Were you aware that our nation is in the midst of a craft cider revolution?
Well, it could be due to the fact that trends are typically a little slower to arrive in Utah. However, I'm excited to introduce three Utah-based cider makers and to announce the state's newest cidery opening in November of 2021!
Growing up in teetotaling Utah, I can attest that it was once a difficult proposition to even enter a bar. In fact, post-prohibition, it wasn't until 2006 that the first legal and licensed distillery opened in Utah, the High West Distillery and Saloon. Rewind a bit and Wasatch Brew Pub was the first microbrewery on the scene in 1988 with Squatters Brew Pub debuting in 1989. It wasn't until 2010 that the Hive Winery and Spirits began offering hard cider to thirsty Utahans.
Nowadays, it's impossible to avoid running headlong into a brand new distillery or craft brewery and most of Utah's newcomers aren't mad about it. Like purchasing private memberships to gain access to a bar, the days of Utah's sad and sober past have faded. On deck for 2021 and 2022, beer lovers can anticipate Prodigy Brewing in Logan, Offset Bier in Park City, Flaming Gorge Brewing in Manila and Helper Brewing in Helper, UT.
It's safe to say distilling and brewing are here to stay in Utah, but what's next...?
As a Utahan, I'll admit that on nearly every holiday I imbibed an embarrassing quantity of Martinelli's Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Apple Cider. In fact, I'm fairly confident that Utah consumes more Martinelli's per capita than just about any other corner of the universe. Luckily, hard cider has arrived in the Beehive State and one must no longer resort to sparkle juice. Grab a gluten-free friend and head to one of our wonderful cideries.
SCION CIDER BAR
An exciting development in Utah's cider history hits the Central 9th district in November 2021. Scion Cider Bar will be the premier place in Utah to experience a vast collection of carefully curated cider. The casual yet upscale atmosphere of Scion will harbor over 20 varieties of cider on tap with an additional selection of 80-100 cans or bottles of craft cider. The rustic and relaxing atmosphere is perfectly paired with Spanish-influenced snacks and pintxos such as fine cheese, charcuterie, tinned fish, fresh bread, fruit, olives and more.
I recently connected with my old college friend and Utah native, Rio Connely, Scion's General Manager, lead Bartender and Cider Maker. I vividly recall drinking his tasty home brew over 15 years ago while we were in college in Washington State. Back then, Rio relentlessly brewed beer and cider, experimenting all through college and it's been so inspiring to watch his journey and passion evolve. With over a decade of experience brewing in Utah for Epic and serving as head brewer and co-owner of Proper Brewing, Rio observed the dearth of cider options locally as an opportunity to expand people's tastes and palates.
Rio explains how in America's early years, quaffing cider was the safest way to stay hydrated before indoor plumbing became widespread. Back then, people drank more cider than water! Rio hopes to lead a cider revolution in Utah by introducing our citizenry to as many craft ciders as possible. When compared to grapes, apples have a far wider range of tastes and more varieties. Scion Cider Bar's mission is to create a hub where guests can cultivate a passion for cider and expand their understanding of what is possible. Rio will also keep busy pressing and making hard cider in the bar, selling small-batch seasonal ciders on draft.
ETTA PLACE CIDER
Debuting in April of 2021, Southern Utah's first cidery has finally arrived. Meet Etta Place, an unlikely outpost in the heart of rural red rock country. Etta Place aims to support local farms and showcase the tang and flavor of red rock orchards. After plucking and tasting a perfect apple from a tree in Capitol Reef National Park, Ann and Robert planted 50 apple trees on their property in Torrey, Utah. After much experimentation, failure, and a few happy surprises, the couple acquired more land and planted more trees. Etta began selling their first batch of cider in April of 2021. Nowadays Etta Place begins a new chapter with tasting experiences, tours, events and a retail bottle shop that highlights the countless variety of apples grown in the region. You'll have to visit to learn more about their Ciderbison and how Etta Place earned its unusual name.
Most cider makers choose to use hyper-local ingredients. You can craft cider with just a couple of ingredients to truly capture the area's local essence. Mountain West Cider Company is a proud member of Utah's Own, sourcing local ingredients to craft seasonal and award-winning hard cider. Husband and wife Jennifer and Jeff Carleton alongside Joel Goodwillie have worked to enliven our local community with good times and good flavor since 2015.
The Cider House features a bar and tours are also offered. The cidery features seasonal cider, local beer and spirits alongside cider cocktails. What better place to woo a gluten-free date!? The Garten features a rotating cast of music and entertainment and it's a lovely place to chill and sample cider. You can expect events or live music during holidays like Oktoberfest or St. Patrick's Day.
THE HIVE WINERY & SPIRITS COMPANY
Utah's oldest cidery, Layton-based Hive Winery, has eschewed grapes for premium fruit wines, brandies, mead, specialty spirits and hard apple cider. Jay and Lori Yahne were engineers that long enjoyed making wine as a hobby. In 2008 they decided to convert their hobby into a reality, opening their doors in 2010 to specialize in unexpected flavor combinations. With an emphasis on flavor, the Hive Winery debuts small seasonal batches that capture the essence of local and regional ingredients. Thanks to strong relationships with local farmers, the Yahnes are able to procure fruit and honey at the peak of ripe freshness that reflect the taste of Utah.
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