Distiller, Fair Game Beverage Co.
By hannah Lee | PHOTOgraphy BY Beth Mann
When Rose Dyer realized the 9-to-5 work life of a chemistry lab was not for her, she dropped out of her chemical engineering program at NC State University to pursue another calling for her love of math and science: distilling.
In April 2014, Rose started volunteering at Fair Game Beverage Co. in Pittsboro, drawing on her chemistry background to learn how to produce Fair Game’s signature pepper-flavored vodka.
Now Rose is Fair Game’s head distiller, responsible for its growing line of vodka, apple brandy, amber rum, seasonal rum agricole (made from sugarcane instead of molasses), and a special rum called No’lasses made from sweet sorghum.
“It’s a very dude-heavy industry, so it’s a lot of fun for me to go and surprise people out in the industry with the fact that I am a younger woman,” Rose says. “It’s fun defying people’s expectations and being like, ‘Nope! I’m actually back here doing all this work.’”
Fair Game’s small distillery is in an old industrial building on Lorax Lane. Beakers, test tubes, scales and hydrometers cover a long table in her office, and two chalkboards on opposite sides of the distillery are thick with Rose’s handwritten chemical equations. Inked on her right forearm is a complicated and famous math equation. Rose’s grandfather, Dale Sayers, was a pioneer in X-ray science and helped develop the equation. Rose keeps it as a reminder of how science has shaped her life.
“I try to do what keeps me happy,” Rose says. “I prioritize being happy over money or anything else.”
And while she calls her work fun and laid-back, Fair Game’s reputation is growing. The Flying Pepper Vodka was named a finalist in the spirits category of the 2019 Good Food Awards, a national competition of craft food producers. Fair Game’s four employees annually produce two or three batches (each about 70 cases) of each spirit, all bottled by hand. “I feel like our spirits are getting better and better,” Rose says.
“And it’s really, really gratifying to actually be able to see that and taste that.”
Read the original article from the April/May 2019 Issue:
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