Colorado’s Cider Scene: 4 Questions

The cider world is continuing to grow in a tremendous way. It makes sense that apple-rich areas like the Washington, Michigan, or New York would gravitate towards hard cider as their choice of alcoholic beverage. But Colorado has identified itself as one of the emerging markets for the mystical medicine that is hard cider.

We reached out and were able to speak with some of the leaders in Colorado, Colorado Cider Company, C Squared Ciders, and Stem Ciders to see how they are moving the needle in the Centennial State.

Why Is Colorado’s Cider Scene Developing So Rapidly?

Colorado Cider Company: “It’s been slower than the Northwest (hasn’t everywhere?), but I think our booming craft beer scene as well as Spirits these days shows a consumer base that’s into craft beverages. Denver is very geographically isolated and tends to develop their own sub-cultures around local. I think Craft Beer Drinkers are open to cider in general.”

C Squared Cider: “I would have to say our success is due in part to the vibrant craft brewing scene in Colorado, whose fans are really open to experimentation and trying new things and form the core of our business.  We really don’t get much support or respect from our state-funded wine development board, and until recently our Colorado state cider makers association was headed by a luddite hobbyist with no commercial experience who considers our best selling, GLINTCAP gold medal winning, Ginger cider a “flavored” cider of the “lowest common denominator”.  Despite the negatives, if you look at the real growth in the Colorado wine industry cider is where it is at, and I have to give props to Colorado Cider Co. for being the pioneer and Stem ciders for raising a ton of capitol for their new facility, both of which raise awareness for cider as a whole in our state.”

Stem Cider: “Colorado has long been at the tip of the spear when it comes to the craft movement. An active lifestyle and a love of the outdoors has always been a way of life here, and that leads to a “work hard to play hard” attitude which makes it fertile ground for craft breweries, cideries, and distilleries alike.”

What Makes Your Cider Stand Out From Others In The Country?

Colorado Cider Company: “We have our own spin on things and were early trendsetters. I think there’s our own balanced sensibility in a lot of our ciders that occupy a spot between sweet and dry. The concept of Dry for us is more of a cider apple and non-dessert fruit conversation than dessert apples. We started an orchard at the same time we opened the cidery in 2011 and are dedicated to developing Colorado grown cider apples. It’s a long-term project.”

C Squared Cider: “I make a fairly wide range of ciders, from dry to semi-sweet, and always with bold, interesting, expressive flavors that are memorable. I think our packaging is also quite attractive. We also have always kind of taken the approach of letting people decide what they like without telling them “this is (fill in the blank) cider” that you should be drinking.”

Stem Cider: “Our ciders stand out because of our focus on quality ingredients that allow us to create ciders with integrity while honoring the cider traditions we cherish.”

Where Do You Source Your Apples?

Colorado Cider Company: “We buy as many Colorado apples as we can but it depends on the crop year. To have a consistent supply we rely on the Northwest.”

C Squared Cider: “All over really, but I take what I can get as far as real cider apples. Primarily we source apples from Washington state, but I have made cider with all Colorado grown heirloom apples as well. We just don’t have a very large apple growing industry in Colorado. The weather and the altitude are kind of rough on those fragile apple blossoms.”

Stem Cider: “We source apples for our smaller batch specialty products from the Western Slope of Colorado as well as from a few select orchards in Michigan. The apples for our core brands are from the Pacific Northwest.”

How Does Your Cidery Stay In Tune With The Cider Culture When Outside The Cider-centric Regions?

Colorado Cider Company: “We don’t really react to what the other parts of the country are doing per se. We believe we know what we’re doing and can make great ciders of our own design.

People ask when we’re going to make a pineapple cider and I tell them when we have a good crop here in Colorado I’ll consider it. All kidding aside we travel and have friends all over the country and know what’s going on. I was part of the group that formed USACM so it’s not like we live in caves. It does take a while to ride my horse to Michigan. (Kidding, it only takes a couple of weeks…)”

C Squared Cider: “Colorado is kind of a crossroads between the west coast and the midwest, so I feel that to some extent, we have to develop our own cider culture.  However, in this modern age of connectivity, we stay in touch through social and print media and websites such as CiderScene.

Stem Cider: “We don’t feel isolated at all, in fact, we are at the center of the craft movement. Colorado boasts over 300 craft beverage producers that employ over 22,000 people across the state. The Colorado cider scene may not be as established as some other regions, but it is vibrant, dynamic and fast-moving.”

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