First Look: Rhine Hall Brandy Distillery

By Sarah Freeman  |  November 1, 2013
Credit: Nick Murway

Brandy is most certainly having a moment in Chicago. Thankfully, one of the hottest fall booze trends in town will have a new home on the West Side starting tomorrow. We got a sneak peek at Rhine Hall, a father-daughter owned brandy distillery making apple brandy from locally sourced apples.

2010 W. Fulton St.; 312 243-4313

  • Credit: Nick Murway


    Father-daughter duo Charlie and Jenny Solberg have been making brandy for decades. The passion project started in the 1970s, when Charlie played pro hockey in Austria at a facility called Rhine Hall. During his free time he worked for a fruit farmer and was taught how to make brandy by the local experts. After returning to the states, he opened Solberg Manufacturing in Itasca, but eventually moved his family to Germany to expand the company. During that time, Charlie passed his brandy knowledge onto his five children. Originally, the team used a bike that Charlie designed to chop the apples, before loading them into a press and turning the correct ratio of cider and mash into brandy. Now, the process is a bit more efficient.

  • Credit: Nick Murway


    The facility pays tribute to the Solberg's European ties not only with the name but also with a Holstein still imported from Germany. This still’s name is Stanley. Another member of the Solberg clan - Chad, who works with his father at Solberg Manufacturing - designed the steel tanks used to ferment the mash. The distillery is producing four products: apple brandy, oaked apple brandy, grappa and oaked grappa. Initially the distillery will not be open to the public, but plans to soon expand to offer Saturday tours. During these tours, guests will see how 7,300 pounds of Michigan apples are chopped, pressed, fermented and distilled. Rhine Hall is unique in the fact that its entire product is made from apples, not from concentrate and is not diluted with any neutral spirits.

  • Credit: Nick Murway

    Brandy Bar

    “When you smell and taste our product, the apple flavor is dominant,” Jenny said. Want a taste of what Rhine Hall has to offer? That is where the Brandy Bar comes into play. Open on Thursdays through Saturdays, the bar serves flights as well as cocktails made with Rhine Hall’s products. Even more of the Solberg siblings get involved at this part of the process. Lisa Solberg, an artist based out of Los Angeles, did an abstract painting that acts as one of the focal points of the space. The cocktail menu is designed by Travis Solberg and will feature three rotating cocktails on a chalkboard menu. Opening cocktails include the Bixby’s Double, a cider-based cocktail named after the orchard where most of the apples are grown, as well as the Bobos, a take on an apple brandy bramble.