Tim Robson and Ian Carleton are the latest cider pioneers making products in what would typically be known as a “cider desert” (Springfield, MO). The area has recently seen the boom of the craft beer industry and these two gentlemen are knocking on the door of untapped potential with cider.
Their approach is an echo of expert cider or wine craftmenship with a high level of respect for the nuances of cider like terroir and focus on the structure of the apple. When Robson lived in the Scotland for some years (for work with his wife’s family), he found cider was part of their every day drinking culture. He then met Carleton at a local joint called Hurts Donuts. These two went on to do farm-to-table dinners and experimented with making hard ciders in the process.
This well-rounded approach of food and drink is all part of their mission to develop the Springfield area and teach the locals about their own food culture, growing it in the process. This was definitely the focal point of their mission during our conversation and tasting. Their passion for the area and the local products was electric.
As they have developed their craft, they have created wild yeast fermented made from locally sourced apples to decrease traditional apple waste. This results in the traditionally bone dry cider that can be naturally sparkling (or not) and the truest apple character comes through. Being in a conscious mindset, their team even looks at what they can do with the apple pomace after their pressings including second ferments.
When I made a trip down there, we met up at The Coffee Ethic, one of the local shops with their ciders available. We sat down with their Saint. Fox team and a few employees from The Coffee Ethic to do a tasting and talk cider. Outside of learning about their local passion and reduction of waste, we discussed their tagline “Long Live Rebel Saints” which is a motto that the pair utilize often. This epitomizes their approach to doing things differently especially in a market that has been seen ciders that are sweet and relatively unnatural. Saint Fox has been producing around 20 brewers barrels out of a 150 square foot space. That is all it takes to create and experiment with their flavors.
I was able to taste their products that were offered at the space. They had their Rosé and Fox Light on hand.
This cider was made with 12th generation old yeast, wild fermentation, and 0 sulfites combined with Missouri wine grapes, blended and balancing their rosé . Not only does this lend to a well-balanced cider but the flavors are fantastic compared to most other Rose ciders we have tried. The flavor opens to both benefits the light wine tannins and the delicate flavors of cider. This cider comes in at 6.2% ABV.
Fox Light is a 3.5-percent “session” cider that is lightly hopped. This is made from re-hydrating apple pomace that is then repressed. The version I had was made with Brewer’s Gold and Centennial hops. The hop notes were very light but pleasant against the wild fermented flavors of the cider. This created an “easy drinker” that would be pair nicely with food or the start of a meal. This year the team pushed to mimic Belgian Wit with orange zest and a touch of coriander and juniper berries!
If you are in the area made sure to visit some of the local spots like the Coffee Ethic or check out Saint Fox’s Instagram, @saint_fox_cider.