Why the hell are you doing this?
Several years ago, our founding member Christian was misdiagnosed with Celiac disease, meaning that he couldn’t have anything with gluten without getting terribly sick. Unfortunately for him, gluten is in one of the best things in the world: beer! Being the ever resilient lush that he is, Christian opted to try drinks that are naturally gluten free. Drinks like hard cider and mead. And being the great and supportive bunch of guys that we are, we decided that we wouldn’t let him walk down that path of beer alternatives on his own. To our dismay, what we found on the market was pretty lackluster. Most of the big name ciders on store shelves were overly sweetened and had an almost artificial apple taste while products being sold as mead were actually just white wine with honey added. Being avid homebrewers at the time, the four of us solved this problem the only way we knew how…drinking, brewing, and of course drinking our own brews!
Say it Frenchie
What we learned after making many batches of cider, is that the apple is incredibly versatile, and hard apple cider does not need to be pigeonholed into an offensively sweet beer alternative. The ciders that we made ranged from incredibly dry, almost champagne like, to sweet and juicy like you were taking a bite from an apple right off the tree. And the meads were just as diverse; some were flavored and barrel aged to make the honey character extremely subtle, while others were bold and complex with the full flavor of the honey and added fruits and spices shining through.
Thankfully, Christian’s diagnosis was incorrect, and he has since returned to drinking beer and homebrewing. But we all came out of his experience with a greater understanding of hard ciders and mead, and a newfound drive and passion to create our brews on a larger scale. All that's left to do is share them with the world, or just New Jersey for now (Got to start somewhere!)
The four of us so strongly believed in the cider and mead we were creating and the more traditional French and English methods we were employing, that we all decided we’d try to do it professionally and show the world just how great these two beverages can really be. There was only one issue…being the proud New Jersey sons that we are, we were set on opening up in our beloved Garden State, but making hard cider and mead was illegal.
Taking on the man
Ok, maybe not technically illegal, but the stipulations and requirements needed in order to produce it were outlandish. Requirements like owning at least 3 acres of land to grow ingredients on. Ingredients that needed to make up at least 51% of what went into the hard cider. And there were no laws on the books for mead, making it effectively illegal to produce.
Well, we weren’t about to just give up, so we changed the law. It was a long process (starting in January of 2014) and at times seemed like an impossible task. But throughout several years of meeting with legislatures, drafting the bill, making concessions, and with the unwavering support of our local community as well as our local government, and some new friends in the alcohol industry. On May 11th of 2017 our bill was signed into law, making the production and distribution of hard cider and mead in New Jersey legal!
Crafting our product
So, you’re probably familiar with hard cider. It’s a fermented beverage, like beer or wine, that uses apples instead of grains and grapes. But you may be wondering what mead is. Mead is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world, dating back to over 8000 years ago. In it’s simplest form, mead is water with honey in it that is left to ferment. While the idea of honey water may make you think of an overly sweet drink, mead has all of the complexities of wine, meaning it can range the gambit from mouth puckering dry to lip smacking sweet and juicy.
What makes our hard ciders and meads different is that we strive for perfection. So much so that we have an experimental pilot orchard and hives where we grow a variety of cider apples to see which grow best in certain conditions and which juices go best with each other. Of course, quality is paramount to us in this endeavor as well and we employ completely organic and holistic farming techniques and methods to ensure the purest, best tasting fruit and juice we can produce.
When it comes to our standard line up of ciders, we only use the best ingredients available and try to use as much organic locally sourced produce and honey as possible. But aside from what goes into the fermenter, what comes out is just as important. We’re making a variety of ciders and mead to please any and every palate. From mead with faint subtle notes of the added fruits and spices, to bold in-your-face ciders bursting with crisp apple and other added natural fruit flavors. From incredibly tart and dry, to extremely approachable and drinkable. We are making the best beverages we can to satisfy everyone’s taste buds.