Cider is on the rise.
Cideries across the Northwest openly refer to the explosive growth in business as the cider revolution .
As the popular stastics blog FiveThirtyEight wrote in January, “Hard cider is having a moment”:
Per Chicago-based market research firm IRI, cider sales zoomed 75.4 percent to $366 million….through the end of November 2014.
And according the University of Vermont, “hard cider production in the U.S. has increased an average of 73 percent annually since 2008.”
All this growth has a side effect: cider fans are getting sophisticated quickly and that means increased demand for beverages that venture outside the traditional. Let’s take a look at a few regional cider entrepreneurs taking this ancient beverage in bold new directions.
Finnriver Cidery was founded in 2008 by partners Eric Jorgensen and Keith and Crystie Kisler. The roots of the cidery began in friendship and farmland and now, with several thousand heirloom cider trees in the ground, farming and fermenting continue side by side on 80 acres of Chimacum Valley soils, on the north Olympic Peninsula of Washington state.
Their first foray into adding non-traditional fruits to cider was plucked right from their backyard: Finnriver grows a few acres of organic blueberries every year and so the materials for experimation were right on hand! After a little trial and error, they stepped into seasonal crops like fir tips and rose hips and, for springtime, tried dandelions and nettles before finally settling on lemon balm.
Some ingredients are added during ferment, so the added fruits are producing alcohol, and others are added after the ferment so they only provide flavor.
Partner Crystie Kisler added:
We started to realize the unlimited potential for new ciders, so the crew came up with an idea: they do small batches on their own, and, if they succeed, they take a percentage as part of a bonus program.
Honey Moon in Bellingham started as a mead company before joining the “cider revolution” and now they’ve seen cider sales double each of the past two years. They have also enjoyed tremendous growth in flavored ciders; last year, they bought 800 pounds of Olympic Peninsula cranberries, and this year they upped their order to 3,000 pounds!
Honey Moon are big fans of cysers – a blend of apple cider and honey wine. They mix and serve them both in their cider house bar.
Owner Murphy Evans said,
We operate in a space that was a glass warehouse for a hardware company. It had these two sets of wooden doors that went twenty feet up and opened out so glass could be loaded in by boat. The cider house used to the be the cutting room.
They have live music and readings five nights a week and are quickly becoming a community hub.
Cider culture is on the rise! If you want to check out some innovative flavors from Northwest producers, check out Finnriver and Honey Moon and try a bottle today. And if you’re in the great New York area, try our friends Aaron Burr Cider who produce perry (made from pears), ginger-carrot, elderberry and more.