Over the past few years, the craft beer market has exploded. Old news, right? Well I’m no connoisseur, but I am a big fan for many reasons. I prefer to support and explore local breweries, for starters, and I enjoy making my own six-packs. Frankly, I just like the taste more than many of the old classics.
I’ve also sampled my fair share of hard ciders. There are a few good ones out there, but they’re hard to find, and don’t always last long on the shelves. Furthermore, most are too sweet and taste like soda. For those reasons I haven’t had a “go-to” cider similar to my “go-to” craft beers… until I discovered Downeast Cider.
Born in Maine in Fall of 2011, the fresh cider company is the brainchild of two college buddies, Tyler Mosher and Ross Brockman, who were attending Bates at the time. Their dorm-room foundation has a striking similarity to Steve Job’s college days; while attending Reed College in Oregon, Jobs and his friends would get off campus and travel north to a friend’s apple orchard. Tyler and Ross had a friend with an orchard about 45 minutes north of Bates, and their friend’s mom would send them fresh apples from the orchard.
Tyler and Ross soon became intrigued by the many different kinds of apples at the orchard, and after a trip abroad they saw that hard ciders were popular elsewhere around the world, but not in the U.S. After a suggestion from one of their dads, they developed a new hobby (thanks guys!). They owe their success to a few sound principles:
- All of their apples come from local orchards in New England. Other ingredients, such as cranberries, are also locally sourced.
- Unlike many other hard ciders on the market, their cider is made from freshly pressed juice.
- Disregarding advice from others, Downeast Cider is un-filtered, which gives it a robust flavor. According to Tyler and Ross, “filtering took the soul out of the juice.”
- It’s made from ale yeast that the guys make themselves. That, too, gives the hard cider a full-bodied flavor.
In February 2013, after running out of space in Maine, Tyler and Ross moved the company to their current location in Charlestown, MA. Tyler and Ross also welcomed Matt, Ross’s brother, to the team. The new location allowed them to expand production and develop new flavors, including:
- Original (can’t go wrong with this one)
- Cranberry (my personal favorite)
- Hard honey (it’s got less sugar and a honey flavor with coriander and orange peel)
- Barrel Project (aged in bourbon barrels)
- Hard Lemonade
- Keep a lookout for their winter blend launching in mid-November (cinnamon, nutmeg, and aged oak)
You can pick up a six-pack at your local craft beer store. Many local pubs also offer Downeast on tap. For a list of locations that offer Downeast cider, click here. And if you’re interested in visiting the brewery in Charlestown, click here for a tour schedule.