Apples on their mind.
Hopworks founder Christian Ettinger and Production Manager Tom Bleigh are concentrating on mastering the beverage marketplace one Apple at a time.
The only thing hotter than craft beer right now is craft hard cider, and the team over at Portland’s Hopworks Urban Brewery has taken notice. In June Hopworks will release its first Hard Cider to the public in 16oz tall boy cans with three Portland release parties planned.
The rise of cider and events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival have opened up the market to the possibilities of fruit, and making cider is more similar to beer-making than it is to wine. Despite that, the Feds don’t really understand how to handle a brewery that also obtains a winery license to make cider under the same roof. These twists and hurdles have led to a much-delayed but perhaps more carefully produced launch of Hopworks’s new cider brand. Made from all Pacific Northwest-grown dessert apples (60% from organic concentrate and 40% fresh pressed), Hopworks Hard Cider is cleanly fermented at 53 degrees with Wyeast 4766 cider yeast. To achieve some level of sweetness and tartness, Hopworks Hard Cider is back sweetened to finish as a classic Semi-Dry cider that won’t rock the boat for what the average cider drinker is expecting.
One of the frequent issues cidermakers are running into as packaging becomes more popular is re-fermentation in the bottle or can. Ciders are more susceptible to this than beer because of the natural yeasts and bacteria on or in apples, and because most ciders try to leave a residual sweetness from unfermented juice. Instances of bottles that gush or even explode are common; even Widmer/Craft Brew Alliance ran into this issue in the early days of the Square Mile hard cider brand that necessitated a mandatory recall. More recently, 10 Barrel famously had to recall its radler “Swill” because the grapefruit soda was causing re-fermentation in the bottles. This lead to many months of research on pasteurization and probably a better final product because of the additional time spent learning the best methods to pasteurize without compromising flavor.
Pints of Hopworks Hard Cider at their brewpub
Hard Cider is the latest bit of diversification for Oregon’s 11th largest (by 2014 OLCC taxable barrels) brewery, which plans to dip its toes into many more areas of the beverage business outside of beer. A Venn diagram in the HUB office reveals plans for the company’s own sodas (it already makes root beer and a lemon soda for the Radler), whiskey (distilled locally), and gluten-reduced beer in addition to the cider production.
For now the only Hopworks cider is the flagship Hard Cider, available in 16oz tall boy cans in 4-packs for $10.99 and single cans at the brewery for $3. However, as soon as June’s Fruit Beer Fest and NW Cider Summit, the brewery will preview small batches of peach and blackberry cider, Mosaic & Citra dry-hopped cider, and whiskey barrel-aged cider. Also soon to follow is HUB Hard Cider in 22oz single serving bottles and, later still, seasonal or one-off ciders. With cider’s white hot popularity, Hopworks anticipates on keeping a 80bbl tank full of cider for the rest of the year, yielding an estimated 150 bbls per month.
Hopworks Hard Cider Can Release Parties in June, details below.