Cider

LDB Beverage Opens 90K Contract Production Facility and launches Jester & Judge Cider

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The hard cider industry is white hot right now and no one knows that better than Bruce Nissen who founded both Fox Barrel and Crispin Hard Cider only to sell them to Miller-Coors for what only could have been a hefty paycheck. But Bruce did not just sell-out, he bought back in, building a 60K capacity production facility in Stevenson, Washington that will soon jump to 90K and launched his own new Jester & Judge cider brand. From his impressive new facility in the Oregon/Washington gorge, Bruce will eventually be able to produce beer too, though he has no intention of making his own, and open his own ambitious cider pub and restaurant. Until now, Oregon especially has not had a serious contract production facility as our neighbors do, this could allow smaller brewers out of capacity to make more beer through Jester & Judge or perhaps even out of state breweries to make their beers or ciders here and widen their distribution footprint without the costs of trucking.

Bruce Nissen has demonstrated his true love of ciders by getting back in with the recently launched Jester & Judge Cider, using fresh apple juice and no concentrates. Their two flavors American Apple and Sharp Cherry also have a unique flavor twist for such straight-forward styles, the the American Apple is fermented with Wyeast Laboratories 1056 American Ale Yeast, famous for it’s use as Sierra Nevada Brewing’s strain and the Sharp Cherry is fermented with a Trappist Ale Yeast strain adding extra rich fruity and phenolic qualities. They are also relatively dry, ranging in 1-1 1/4 Brix. Jester & Judge sources all their fruit, even non-apple fruit like the cherries in Sharp Cherry or Marionberries for their upcoming Marion Perry are whole not concentrated or flavored and later down the line they want to have an extensive cider barrel-aging program and mosaic and citra hopped ciders. On standing out in the increasingly crowded but still relatively small cider market, Bruce says ” I think quality always has a place in the market. If you want to be the next angry orchard volume wise, I think you’ve a pretty tough row to hoe. If however you stand for something, have quality on your side and actually care about the craft, I think there are people out there willing to care with you. If you light yourself on fire, people will still come to see you burn.”

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Perhaps most exciting about this fruitful new venture is plans for a riverside cider focused restaurant and pub centrally located in Stevenson with a beautiful view of the gorge. The restaurant would feature guest ciders from all over the world as well as those produced in-house with an eye and ear towards cooking and pairing with ciders. With an operation at that scale and the gorge already becoming a fresh apple and cider hub this could become a major destination for cider lovers and add some much needed travel-worthiness to Stevenson outside of Walking Man Brewing.

On the production brewery side of Jester & Judge, under the name LDB (Let’s Dream Big) Beverage the facility is already operating and brewing and packaging craft sodas that seem like it could be a substantial area of growth. Alcoholic soda, or really handcrafted alcoholic anything is hot right now, from Not Your Father’s Root Beer to Portland’s Hi-Wheel Wine & Mead. With state of the art equipment and a full bottling and canning line that can do anything from 12oz bottles to 22oz or cans there is going to be a lot of draw to contract production to Stevenson. Hopworks is already utilizing LDB’s pasteurization equipment by trucking up batches of their new hard cider in cans to go through a low heat level pasteurizer for shelf stabilization. Right now LDB lacks the equipment for hot-side brewing though, they have the tanks and bottling equipment but no mash tun and hot liquor tank but those are planned to be added down the line. With their soon to be 90K barrel production capacity, LDB could take small brewery/cidery up to serious regional player with a contract brewing operation, the kind that is common in California and many other parts of the country. The production plant is located in a unique spot on the gorge in a warehouse and offices once used to build drones for the government.

Despite it’s impressive launch size, LDB and Jester & Judge is still a family operation under Bruce’s Let’s Dream Big vision that brought him and his family to relocate to Stevenson. Find Jester & Judge Ciders now in Oregon in 12oz bottles, 6-packs and on draft

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Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding. Contact: SamuraiArtist@NewSchoolBeer.com

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