Exploring the Harmonious Marriage of Tequila & CiderAugust 18, 2023
Getting to Know Lost Horizon CiderNovember 4, 2023
The food and beverage industry, much like other industries across the globe, is finding new and innovative ways to minimize waste and increase sustainability. While most of these efforts come in the form of recycling or using less packaging at the orchard, we have to recognize brands that have a full-circle approach beyond taking basic measures.
Brix Cider is a small-scale cidery with a focus on making a local impact on their community and region in Mt. Horeb, WI. The products are made of 100% Wisconsin-grown apples and adjunct products like black currants, cherries, honey, and more. We were able to get some better insight into their process of how they are looking to save time, save money, engrain themselves in the community, and follow a more sustainable model.
Can you tell us more about your cidery and philosophy on cider flavors?
We are still a small cidery by production, but I really feel like we are having a larger impact in/on our community through our thoughtful sourcing, community events, and overall leadership as a small business owner. We are active in the local food movement, we support live music and other local art and we are outspoken when it comes to political positions that support small businesses, young families, and the environment. Our support of locally sourced ingredients impacts our flavors because we limit ourselves to ingredients grown in Wisconsin. We are also willing to try new ingredients and experiment with unusual fruits that other manufacturers may shy away from.
Tell us more about your orchard, the apples you grow, and what your favorite apples are that you grow.
We moved to a new farm in 2021 and started a new orchard. What is unique and fun about this new orchard is that it incorporated a 100% native prairie understory which is definitely unique for an orchard. We are also planting all semi-standard trees, which will take longer to produce apples but will be hardier and more resilient to climate variations. All the apple trees in the orchard were hand-grafted and raised in our tree nursery.
I know you said you feed the pigs from the apple remains and then there was a full-circle approach. Can you tell us more about this and why your team is taking those extra steps?
For the past 2 years, we have taken the pumice from apple pressing and fed it to our pigs and sheep. We then use the pork in the restaurant. Waste is always a bummer and usually means an additional cost for disposal. Feeding this “waste” product to the farm animals makes both “sense” and “cents”!!!
What does no waste or sustainability mean to you and the team?
Minimizing product going into the commercial waste stream is so important for both efficiency and profitability. By saving food scraps, or feeding manufacturing by-products (apple/fruit pumice), we are saving money and increasing the profitability of each sector of the business.
Favorite cider you make?
I like some of the small-batch wild apple ciders we make. There are a lot of wild apples in Wisconsin, many growing in old pastures. A farm that has a few apple trees often has those trees spread by cows eating the apples, and then wild apple trees grow where the seeds are spread. After foraging the apples, we typically let these ciders spontaneously ferment, and I find their uniquely individual flavors and aromas endlessly intriguing.
About the team
We (Marie and Matt Raboin) met in graduate school, both in agriculture, and our interest in fermenting things goes back to the days when we were first dating. We made cider, beer, wine, mead, and more – pretty much anything you could ferment, we tried it. We landed on cider because we really liked our cider. Back then, all you could find in the store was Woodchuck which we had no interest in drinking, so we were pleasantly surprised that cider could be really good! We got hooked and the hobby eventually grew into the business it is today.
What other community focus do you have?
We have a Local Food Promotion Program (LFPP) grant that we use to not just promote ourselves but also promote other farms and local food businesses in the area. We’ve done a LOT of events with guest chefs, guest speakers, and film screenings to try to build a better local food community. We have also done a series of short films that feature farms and local food businesses that we work with the goal of helping mutually promote our respective businesses and share the connections between us.
We also host an Open Mic every Thursday which is super popular in the community. People come and play music, recite poems, and just hang out. Almost everyone knows each other and it feels like a weekly reunion! We also host free Sunday afternoon music each week. In addition to supporting local music, we feature local artists’ work, hold space for community events, open up our space for educational events, and community organizing, and even hold space for the community to hold rallies for causes that we support. We also took out all the non-native landscaping plants and replaced it with native prairie plants as an example for the community!