Hard Cider Newsletter

Shoal Hope Ciderworks Opens Taproom

Shoal Hope Ciderworks announced the opening of a taproom in the Cape Cod Beer, Hyannis, location where samples of the award-winning ciders will be offered to the visiting public.

Scaling a local manufacturing business on Cape Cod, MA can be complicated – especially in places like Provincetown where commercial space is at a premium. Shoal Hope Ciderworks founder and cider maker, Rob Brosofsky, realized the importance of having a place for the growing number of cider drinkers to sample his products and has teamed up with Cape Cod Beer owners, Todd and Beth Marcus, to open a taproom within their brewery in Hyannis.

The Shoal Hope Ciderworks taproom officially opened at Cape Cod Beer this month with Monument, Honey Baby, Little Tart, and Empty Barrel on tap for tasting. All four of these ciders medaled in international competitions in 2018 and Little Tart was named one of the “98 Best Ciders of 2018” by CiderCraft Magazine.  The taproom is located at 1336 Phinneys Lane in Hyannis (MA). Visitors will have the opportunity to sample at least four styles of cider at any time although the offerings may change.

“This year has already been very busy as we’re growing our production facility and started a distribution agreement with Berkshire Brewing to expand our hard cider distribution throughout Massachusetts,” explains Brosofsky. “I am committed to making my product in Provincetown and hope to someday be able to open a tasting room in town, but that can’t happen in 2019.  When Beth and Todd tossed out the idea of featuring Shoal Hope Ciders in the Cape Cod Beer taproom, it seemed like a perfect interim solution. We already do business together, as Cape Cod Beer has been selling my cider since May of 2018. This helps them expand their offerings and gives me a place to send people to try my ciders. It’s a win/win.”

“We’ve been committed to selling locally made products since we opened our space in 2006. Once we got our license to serve tastings and pints, we added local wines from First Crush and Truro Vineyards. We then added a cider to round out the alternatives to welcome cider lovers, the gluten intolerant and non-beer drinkers that visit our brewery. This co-branded taproom is a natural next step,” explains Cape Cod Beer co-owner, Beth Marcus. “We’ve developed a great relationship with Rob over the last year.  While making beer is a different process than making cider, there are lots of similarities in what we do.”

Brosofsky adds, “The advice and support I have received from Beth and Todd, and others within the Cape Cod Beer organization has been invaluable.”

Brew Crew members who staff the tasting room at Cape Cod Beer have been learning everything they can about making and tasting cider, and are even shadowing Brosofsky as he makes cider in Provincetown. Sampling Shoal Hope Cider will work similarly to the way visitors currently taste beer at Cape Cod Beer: $6 for 3 samples with a takeaway souvenir sample glass. Pints and 10oz pours will also be available during retail hours and during events at the brewery.

For taproom hours and directions, please visit CapeCodBeer.com.


Carlton Cyderworks Rebrands as Slake Cider

A decade after launching Carlton Cyderworks, the Bailey family announced a complete and total rebrand of the business.  The award-winning cidery began operating as Slake Cider earlier this year with a new logo and new labels for all packaged products.  This new look celebrates 10 years of innovative cider making while embracing the old world traditions that originally inspired the family to make cider.

“We’ve been making and selling cider for over 10 years, watching as the cider market has grown and developed in ways that most never expected.  We are always adapting to this changing market, while still maintaining our cider-making standards and our vision of what cider should be here in the Pacific NW,” said cider maker and owner Keenan Bailey. "During this decade, Carlton Cyderworks also has grown and developed in ways that we did not expect.  While we do have a small orchard in Carlton, our production has always been in McMinnville (OR).  Our tap room, Slake House, which features all our ciders in bottle and draft, and other local beer and wine options, is also located in McMinnville.  In the future, we see amazing potential for growth at our 15 acre orchard near Dundee, where we can focus on making the highest quality traditional ciders.”

To keep up with the incredible growth of the cider market in the NW, the Bailey’s and other partners decided a rebrand would be the best option.

“We love the town of Carlton, and my family and I continue to live just outside town,” said Bailey. “But as we’ve grown, we’ve expanded throughout Yamhill County.  We also wanted our brand to connect with people, no matter where they live or come from.  So with that in mind, and after a lot of deliberation, we’ve decided to rebrand as Slake Cider.  We have some great memories with Carlton Cyderworks, but we’re confident about the future of Slake Cider, and are incredibly excited to showcase our cider throughout this coming year.”

The Slake Cider logo conveys the focus on orchard-based cider and traditional cider making.  “Slake Your Thirst,” the previous slogan, will remain, and continues to express the company’s view of cider - an approachable thirst-quenching beverage.

The first products released will feature a dry Northwest style cider, a medium-sweet cider from the same blend, an English-style cider, and a seasonal pomegranate cider. 

“We greatly appreciate everyone who has supported the Carlton Cyderworks brand throughout the last decade,” Bailey said. “We look forward to sharing a pint of Slake Cider with you in the future.”

‘Slake your thirst’ and learn more at SlakeCider.com. Photos courtesy of Slake Cider.


Saint Arnold Brewing Co. Launches Cider

Having already cleansed the water and saved the townspeople with his divine ales, Saint Arnold turned his focus to man’s original nemesis: the apple. And so he ventured into the orchard, cast away the serpents, harvested the trees’ finest fruits, and created a saintly cider. The townspeople were delighted and the apple regained its rightful place among the earth’s most delicious gifts. Or so the legend goes …

Saint Arnold Brewing Co., Texas’ oldest craft brewery, released a cider for the first time last month. Saint Arnold Original Dry Cider is now available on draft and in 12oz cans throughout Texas and Louisiana.

With the opening of the Beer Garden & Restaurant and the diverse set of customers coming through the door, the demand for a variety of drink options was mounting. The brewing team’s creative juices started flowing to develop a new product.

“Many of our customers have asked us for something gluten-free; and I’m not a fan of gluten-free beers. We decided to experiment with cider making especially since there are not a lot of local options for ciders,” said Founder/Brewer Brock Wagner. “We love the challenge of learning how to do new things well. Our team succeeded.  The most important part: when I finish one pint, I want another.”

The process for developing the cider was just like the process for developing a new Saint Arnold beer, except a bit lengthier because no one had prior cider experience. Team members brewed over 100 test batches experimenting with different blends of culinary apples, yeast, and sugars until the right combination was discovered. Original Dry Cider is comprised of a proprietary blend of apples from the Pacific Northwest, Saint Arnold house brewer’s yeast, and a combination of Belgian candi syrup and Burleson’s Honey from Waxahachie, TX. It has a bright apple flavor and aroma with pear, citrus, and melon notes throughout. Mild acidity balances the flavors and a touch of sweetness delivers a refreshingly light but complex balance and clean, dry finish. It is a most saintly cider at 5.5% ABV, 150 calories per serving and 5g of sugar – of course, it’s also gluten-free.

“I believe because we did not have any prior experience with cider, we were able to come up with a more creative and better cider,” said Head Brewer Eddie Gutierrez. “Cider makers insist you must use a cider or wine yeast, definitely not a brewer’s yeast, but our house Saint Arnold brewer’s yeast was the favorite during blind tastings adding a distinct fruitiness and roundness.”

Original Dry Cider joins the award-winning lineup of 13 year-round, seven seasonal, and two specialty series beers for Saint Arnold, entering its 25th year of operation.

“It was a huge learning curve and we’re aiming to create a product with the same caliber as our beers,” said Brewing Operations Manager Aaron Inkrott. “The weight of creating that is heavy, but I think we’ve achieved it.”

Patrons of Saint Arnold are able to enjoy Original Dry Cider at the Beer Garden & Restaurant. Wagner mused about one other key difference between beer and cider learned during many long cider research and development sessions: cider gives you a gigglier buzz.

For more information, please visit SaintArnold.com.


Swilled Dog Announces Date of Grand Opening for New Facility

After a record year of growth and demand, Swilled Dog Hard Cider of West Virginia, announced they were expanding and relocating from their current facility in Franklin, WV, late last December.  The award-winning, family-owned hard cider company moved into a new 20,000 square foot facility in Upper Tract, WV, in the Upper Tract Industrial Park, less than 10 miles from their current home. This move allowed the company to greatly increase production, plant additional apple orchards, and offer an exciting new tasting room experience. The move to this specific facility also allowed the company’s home base to remain in their home of Pendleton County.

Barry Glover, one of the company’s owners and Director of Operations, had been preparing and hoping for the new facility’s launch with production in the new space at the beginning of the year; and its coming soon! Swilled Dog announced via Facebook that their Grand Opening weekend will be April 26-28. “Our new facility will allow us to expand capacity to keep up with our rapid sales growth as well as give us the ability to quickly scale based on consumer demands and our need for future growth as we continue to look to expand outside of our current footprint. Our Swilled Dog fans have been absolutely incredible and so has the local West Virginia community. Their amazing support has allowed us to do what we love and make an impact in our home state.”

Not only is Swilled Dog looking to expand on production, but looking to expand on consumer experience with the addition of a tasting room.  “Our tasting room will provide our Swilled Fans the opportunity to engage with our brand in ways that they have been unable to do so until now. We are passionate about our community and the state of West Virginia. By providing a destination for hard cider, a place to gather with friends and family, sample new and innovative ciders, become educated about hard cider production, tour our orchards, and actively engage with members of our Swilled Dog family, our Swilled Fans and craft beverage fans alike will have a place to call home and quickly learn why we love calling West Virginia our home,” said Brooke Glover, one of the company’s owners, Sales and Marketing Director and United States Association of Cider Makers Board Member.  

The first step in their new expansion, Swilled Dog will be expanding distribution across its current footprint and into Southwestern Virginia with its new partnership with P.A. Short in Roanoke, VA.  “We are thrilled to partner with P.A. Short to bring the Swilled Dog brand to Southwestern Virginia cider lovers,” Brooke said. “As our brand continues to resonate and expand its reach with national retailers and outside of our home state, we look forward to continuing to produce and provide our fans fun, flavorful, and refreshing craft hard ciders while making an impact in the local communities we serve.”

For more information, please visit SwilledDog.com. Follow the company on Facebook or #SwilledExpansion for facility updates and grand opening information. Photos courtesy of Swilled Dog Hard Cider.


New Cider Consulting Business Founded By Veteran Cider Maker

Brent Miles, former Head Cidermaker of Sly Clyde Ciderworks and original Head Cidermaker at Seattle Cider Company, announced that he started a new venture last month — Brown Hat Consulting. Brown Hat provides consulting for the craft cider industry, specializing in helping new cideries, as well as breweries looking to expand into cider, navigate the start-up process.

“American craft cider is still young, but those in the industry with the most experience are running their own companies,” Miles said. “They are often willing to help newcomers in small ways, but they won’t work in depth with their potential competitors. My experience will allow me to help the next wave of cider entrepreneurs avoid common pitfalls, make great cider, and position their businesses and brands for success in the increasingly competitive marketplace.”

Miles has an accomplished tenure in the new wave of craft cider. He wrote the Seattle Cider business plan, developed their range of popular ciders and managed all aspects of production from the company’s inception in 2013 until he left in 2016, when the company had grown to 20,000 barrels of annual production. In 2017, he began working with the owners of Sly Clyde Ciderworks (Hampton, Virginia). They tasked him with launching their cider business; he developed and produced all the recipes, planned the production facility and tap room, worked closely with their designer on brand development and packaging and sourced all equipment. After almost a year of planning and construction, the production facility opened in April 2018.

“We are excited to see Brent impact the US cider market through his new company,” Doug Smith, Sly Clyde co-founder said. “He has been a tremendous partner helping us launch Sly Clyde, bringing important industry experience that we couldn’t have gotten anywhere else. We are pleased to be the first client of his new company and we look forward to watching him strengthen craft beverage startups throughout the country.”

Brown Hat’s suite of services includes: financial forecasting and analysis, cidermaker training, fermentation guidance and troubleshooting, facility planning and design, recipe development and ingredient sourcing, brand development and positioning, distribution navigation, sourcing used and new equipment, as well as compliance and tax reporting.

To inquire about Brown Hat’s services, use the contact form on the website BrownHatConsulting.com. Photos courtesy of Brown Hat Consulting.


Austin Eastciders Expands Portfolio of Offerings and Distribution

Craft cidery Austin Eastciders started 2019 off with a bang by launching three new products – Brut, Pear Rosemary and Rosé – and increasing distribution to two new states, all within three months.  

The cider company’s new limited release champagne-like Texas Brut Cider, hit shelves officially in mid-December but became widely available after the new year in all Austin Eastciders markets across the country. Texas Brut Cider is a full-flavor, super dry cider with only three grams of sugar and is the second cider in Austin Eastciders’ Limited Release line. “The flavor is reminiscent of crisp apple on the front, and finishes tart, leaving your mouth feeling dry like a sip of champagne,” said Brittany Perlo, R&D Manager at Austin Eastciders. “Texas Brut Cider is perfect for all types of occasions, whether it’s a casual day drinking event or poured into a fancy glass to toast the night away.”

“Austin Eastciders had a great 2018. According to Nielsen, our year-to-date growth is up 67 percent vs 2017 across the US and we’ve had a lot of exciting innovations from Ruby Red Grapefruit to Spiced Cider,” said Brad McKeever, President of Austin Eastciders. “Our Limited Release Texas Brut was the first new flavor to ring in 2019.”

The second cider released this year was Pear Rosemary, intended to brighten up your winter with warm, seasonal flavors. Pear Rosemary is part of the Maker’s Stash series, an experimental line of limited release ciders launched last year with its inaugural Lemon Ginger Cider. Pear Rosemary became available in six-packs last month in all Austin Eastciders markets and on draft at their Collaboratory located in East Austin. The 6.6% ABV cider combines bittersweet apples, a blend of bright Anjou, Bartlett, Comice and Bosc pears with a touch of rosemary.

“Our Pear Rosemary cider is a semi-sweet cider with a slightly higher alcohol content. This complex cider hits the taste buds with the culinary freshness of rosemary on the front, and undertones of sweet pear on the finish,” explained Perlo. “This flavor was first created as a small batch cider for our tap room. It sold out within hours and we knew we had to bring this delicious cider back for everyone to experience.”

Each iteration of the Maker’s Stash series features unique can artwork. The Pear Rosemary can is emblazoned with the artwork of Austin-bred and Brooklyn-based artist Steffi Lynn.

The most recent Austin Eastciders release came this month – Rosé. Compared to other rosé ciders on the market, this one is made with real rose petals. It’s a well-rounded 5.5% ABV cider that also uses hibiscus and black currant for a uniquely light, dry take on a rosé with an aroma that is of sweet cherry and floral notes. Currently available in six-packs and draft, Rosé is a permanent addition to the Austin Eastciders portfolio of mainstay ciders so it can be found in all Austin Eastciders markets.

Looking for these new Austin Eastciders ciders in Arizona or Georgia? Good news – you can now ask for it! The cidery rolled out its line of easy-drinking ciders, starting with the brand’s Original Dry, Blood Orange, Ruby Red Grapefruit and a variety pack, to the Arizona market in January with Hensley Beverage Company.

“The opportunity to partner with a hot brand like Austin Eastciders has us very excited at Hensley Beverage,” said Robert Knutsen, brand manager of Hensley Beverage Company. “We see Austin Eastciders as the perfect complement to our portfolio that offers many of the very best brands in the world.”

Austin Eastciders also selected General Wholesale Beer Company in Atlanta, Northeast Sales Distributing, and Southern Eagle of Savannah (GA) as its wholesale partners for its Georgia distribution venture. The brand’s Original Dry, Blood Orange and Pineapple will be available first in 6-packs and draft.

“We are very excited about our partnership with innovative craft cidery Austin Eastciders. Their authentic craft ciders are just what the Georgia market needs,” said Greg Quinlan, brand manager at General Wholesale Beer Company. “The cider business is rocking, and Atlanta drinkers are now going to have a great southern cider to drink.”

Check out all of Austin Eastciders ciders and where to find them by visiting AustinEastciders.com. Photos courtesy of Austin Eastciders.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Apple Pommeau Cake
From Ciderhouse Cookbook via The San Diego Union-Tribune

Cranberry Apple Cider Cocktail
From Jelly Toast

Photo Credit: Colin Price for Ciderhouse Cookbook

Photo Credit: Emily Caruso