Hangar 1 Debuts New Fog Point Vodka
The brand-new 2018 edition is made with Napa Valley wine and real San Francisco fog.
Images: Kristan Lawson
Last week, head distiller Caley Shoemaker from Alameda's Hangar 1 brought a group of media members to San Francisco's Sutro Tower to view the simple-yet-futuristic technology that allows this year's brand-new limited-edition Hangar 1 Fog Point Vodka to be made with ... well, fog.
Talk about terroir!
Visitors are almost never allowed access to the iconic three-pronged TV-and-radio-antenna tower, which at 977 feet high was the city's tallest structure before that status was swiped last year by the shiny, prongless 1,070-foot Salesforce Tower.
Mounted at the tower's base under the auspices of Canadian nonprofit FogQuest — which with similar setups sustainably provides water to foggy yet arid developing nations — a system called the CloudFisher, created by the German company aqualonis, features finely meshed vertical screens designed to "catch" the fog that surges so notoriously over Mount Sutro from the sea. Droplets falling from these screens fill troughs leading to storage containers.
This process is similar to the natural one by which redwood trees collect and process water to sustain their own survival.
During a typically gray San Francisco summer, Sutro Tower's fog-screens can produce up to 200 gallons of water per week, explained FogQuest volunteer Chris Fogliatti, an East Bayite who said the first syllable of his surname is purely coincidental.
"When we tell people we're collecting fog, they picture us running through the hills waving buckets," Fogliatti laughed. "It's actually a much more gentle process.
"On really foggy days, you can watch the fog collecting in the screens and hear it going drip, drip, drip," he said.
At the base of the tower, Shoemaker served samples of fog-water, noting its ever-so-slight mineral flavor "and absolutely zero chemical content, which gives it a softer mouthfeel than any tapwater."
She first became curious about making vodka with alternative types of water several years ago.
“Given the California drought, we sought out to uncover new, inventive ways to source the water that is so vital to the creation of our vodka," Shoemaker said. "This sparked the idea to create Hangar 1 Fog Point Vodka,” whose premier 2016 edition "sold out in one week and raised nearly $250,000 for local water-conservation organizations."
To make Fog Point, Shoemaker cuts the fog water with California wine. For the 2018 version, she chose Napa Valley-grown Pine Ridge Chenin Blanc + Viognier for its "nuanced notes of honeyed pears, white peaches, and zesty citrus."
Hangar 1 has also experimented with placing fog-catchers in Tilden Park and Half Moon Bay, but the Sutro Tower screens have proven the most productive:
"I’m very excited to share the 2018 edition with even more local vodka fans and continue to drive research and conversation around fog-catching as an evolving technology in the Bay Area.”