1857-1897: John S. Bielfeldt Brewing Co.
John S. Bielfeldt was born January 27, 1834, in the town of Hemme, Holstein, Germany. He emigrated with his parents in 1851 and settled in Blue Island, IL.
In 1857, John Bielfeldt relocated to Thornton, Illinois, and erected a brewery with a ten-barrel kettle and a cooperage. The grain was ground by horses on a small-scale grist mill. The Bielfeldt family then built a residence above the well and adjacent to the brewery’s grain tower. Both buildings remain today as the core of Thornton Distilling Co.
In 1876, he increased production capacity to a 20 barrel kettle.
While many came to Thornton to extract the valuable limestone, John Bielfeldt utilized the stone as a filter to improve his fermentations. The minerality of the limestone-filtered water provides a desirable effect on the production of fine spirits, both then and now. Thornton’s limestone geology means that iron is filtered out of the water as it passes through the permeable stone.
Because we have an artesian well, the water is naturally pressurized and flows up from a deep limestone aquifer 1500 feet underground. Thornton Distilling Company continues to utilize the same artesian well today for all of our distillations.