Schilling Cider: 5 Questions with Colin Schilling
When you ask to meet with Colin Schilling and he says 9 AM on a Saturday, you just say yes, period. He has been quite busy lately as he is nearing the end of the production of his newest cider house in Portland, Oregon (image below) and his spare time is limited. It takes a lot of work to have the largest amount of cider on tap in the United States! We were just grateful to have an opportunity to chat.
Disregard the general assumptions one makes about a CEO of a company, Colin was casually dressed and rocking his Schilling attire, including a jacket and baseball cap. He was the only person there that Saturday morning and we had the facility to ourselves.
Our meeting took place at the Schilling Tasting room located in Auburn, less than an hour south of their other Washington location in the Fremont district of Seattle. What’s great about this tasting room is how open the space is. Being a 35,000 square foot manufacturing facility, you really get an idea of the magnitude of their cider operations and the room for activities. Cue Step Brothers!
He offered us a tasting of a few of his ciders we had yet to try and we got down to business.
My 5 Questions with Colin Schilling:
Best cider hangover cure?
“More cider,” he said jokingly. “I actually really like a cider mimosa, or we have our cold brew as well.”Their cold brew is a coffee/cider blend that is mind blowingly awesome!”
- Would you rather enjoy a glass of cider on a mountain top or on a beach?
“Hmm…well, I just spent some time on a beach since I just got married in Jamaica, so I am going to have to go with a mountain…for right now, anyway.”
- Why is the camaraderie amongst cider makers so strong?
“Because it was built that way. Nick Gunn, President of Northwest Cider Association, has really led that passion and his saying “All Boats Rise” has been the mindset of most every cidermaker out there. Every cidermaker wants to see every other cidermaker succeed and do well. If each of us does well, we can only build on each other and the industry.”
- Other than your new location in Portland, what is new or on the horizon for Schilling?
“Wow, well Portland has kept us pretty busy right now. We are planning to be up and running mid-June so you will have to check it out! We have also partnered with Street Bean Coffee and are releasing a non-alcoholic, canned cold brew coffee that does not need to be refrigerated.” More on Street Bean Coffee here: https://www.streetbeancoffee.com/He really emphasized their joint mission of giving back and providing training and job security for these young adults that might not have had that before.
- You are an advocate for people opening cider bars, what is the single best piece of advice you have for them?
“Sell good cider and give customers what they want!”
Before we left Auburn, we were able to meet Colin’s friend and co-founder Mark Kornei who was also jetting off to Portland. From what I could tell those two definitely have things dialed in.
After our visit with Colin in Auburn, we felt inclined to visit the Schilling Cider House in Fremont — a spectacular site this sunny Saturday! Look at that alliteration! The staff was friendly, approachable, and knowledgeable. As I was already familiar with some of their ciders on their 32 tap menu, I tasted a few of Schilling’s ciders that I had never had, a few of my old-time favorites from guest cideries, and some new ones.
Following suit, Schillings’s bottle selection is what cider house dreams are made of. Each cooler reads local, American, and global, which makes it effortless to select something tasty! There is something for everyone and it is marvelous!
As these days general unfold, we had a pleasant and enjoyable cider day, from one location to the next. I am looking forward to my next visit at Schilling’s newest establishment in Portland. The class and expertise of Colin and his team showcase the general nature of the craft cider business and the growth to be expected in this space. With great people, comes great product. Cheers to The Schilling Cider company!