Skip to comments.Downeast Cider Revs Up
Posted on 06/16/2012 5:06:01 PM PDT by nickcarraway
Ross Brockman and Tyler Mosher used to wake up at 7 AM to study for the GMATs. But one morning, Mosher turned to Brockman and admitted he hadnt looked at the test materials for two weeks.
I was like, me neither, Brockman said in a phone interview. This was a turning point for us.
Instead of pouring their efforts into getting into business school, the two former Bates College graduates along with another former classmate, Ben Manter were in the midst of building Downeast Cider House, a hard cider company currently based in Waterville, ME, but set to relocate to Leominster, MA, in two weekss time.
In their senior year at Bates, the trio realized none of [them] wanted to get real jobs, as Brockman put it. While having dinner with Moshers father one night, they talked about job prospects, what they wanted to do, where they wanted to go upon graduation day.
Manter then voiced his frustration about not finding good cider anywhere outside of the apple orchard he grew up on in Vassalboro, Maine.
We went back to the dorm and started talking about it, Brockman said. It had a life of its own.
Brockman and Manter were no strangers to cider, having attended the 2010 World Cup in South Africa. There, cider played a much bigger role in bars and restaurants than wed ever seen in the United States, according to Brockman. They saw an opportunity gap in the U.S. market for cider that didnt taste like apple juice with alcohol in it.
The team settled on Leominster as the best city for their new production facility. But moving is no easy feat, since Brockman, Manter and Mosher are already working 15-hour days as in-house electricians, marketers, lawyers and their own sales representatives. And, like any start-up, Downeast Cider isnt exactly flush with cash. As of now, their ciders are only available on tap in cities like Portland and Brunswick.
The revenue comes with canning our cider and selling it in stores in cans. We dont make any money from the draught accounts, Brockman said. Its very difficult to get draught accounts, especially where theres a lot of beer companies fighting tooth and nail. For now, were kind of setting everything up to be in a good position.
That includes perfecting their recipes and expanding. Downeast Cider currently sells Original Blend a farm cider made with fresh local apples, available on tap and in a bottle and is close to launching a Cranapple option with a dry snap of cranberry. The team also plans on experimenting with different fruits and Belgium yeasts.
Making cider is similar to making wine, Brockman said. When theyre running out of product, he and his partners send 300-gallon tanks to a local apple farm, where workers fill them up with fresh-peppered sweet cider and bring them back to Downeast Cider. There, the trio adds yeast, natural sugars and other ingredients to produce alcohol. After the allotted time, the cider is dumped into another tank where it gets carbonated and, at last, funneled into kegs.
Brockman and his team hope to get more popular when they move to Massachusetts, even if it takes some time.
We want to be available on draught and in stores nothing outside of the biggest companies, he said. This is a real job.
I do like me some hard cider.
I just wanna change my name to Dickens and open a cider mill.
Homemade hard cider is naturally carbonated. I never set out to make hard cider. It just used to happened when I left a jug of fresh cider out on the kitchen counter too long. Hard cider is distilled into apple jack. Apple jack was also made by leaving a barrel of hard cider outside in the winter to freeze. The alcohol would separate from the cider into a bubble.
But Johnny wasn't producing tasty apples for baking in pies. Johnny was basically making sure that the folks on the frontier had plenty of hard cider. They didn't mention that in elementary schools when I was young. Of course, they may not mention him at all these days. I suspect they only teach about Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Frederick Douglass, and Martin Luther King. We don't need any other folk heroes.
Yeh, but these guys are making it in LARGE quantities. They don't have the time to let it naturally carbonate.
And applejack is just a little too stout for this country boy.
May as well make brandy.