The Saint Louis Brewery has a new draft Hard Apple Cider pouring from taps throughout our distribution area and we wanted to take a moment to tell you a little more about this offering. We’ve asked James “Otto” Ottolini, our Head of Brewery Innovation and Technology to give us all the cidery details.
Q: To begin with, Schlafly has been making ciders for years, can you give us a little history of what has come before.
A: We have made cider at Schlafly since 2003 and have had a lot of fun playing. We have worked with all sorts of fruits: Pears, peaches, strawberries, cherries, red currants, blackberries, raspberries, Italian plums, blueberries, etc. We have brewed some to be quite dry akin to Brut Champagne and others more on the sweeter side. We have found through customer feedback that the right balance was a sweetness that allows the apple and other fruit characters to come forth and yet not stick around on the palate. Our cider is remarkably refreshing.
Q: Tell us about the new Hard Apple Cider itself. How is it made?
A: We take the apple juice and ferment it with an ale yeast. There is no gluten in the process and the resulting cider is well below thresholds of 20 ppm for those managing intake of gluten for medical or social choice reasons.
Q: Compared to some other ciders on the market, 7% seems like a pretty big cider. Why did Schlafly go big, and does it taste “boozy”?
A: Our cider is higher in alcohol than normal ciders since this is a more premium cider and can be enjoyed as you might a sparkling wine. 7% is very practical as well for ensuring shelf life and stability of the cider in the market.
Q: Seems like Hard Ciders run the gamut of sweet to tart, with some being quite dry. How did you dial in on where you wanted Schlafly Hard Cider to be?
A: Yes, we like to play and experiment. As we meandered through our own versions of sweet to tart, we found that once again we really like to make things that people enjoy drinking. The real hand on the dial we use to help fine tune our cider (and beers for that matter) is our customer and feedback has helped guide us to make a well-balanced, refreshing cider.
Q: What led to the decision to finally make Schlafly Hard Cider available outside of the two Schlafly breweries, and why only on draft?
A: We have had requests for years, especially as the cider market has grown. For various reasons we chose not to focus much energy on producing more cider and putting it out in the market. Now though, it is very clear that there is a wide variety of cider in the market which is lower in alcohol and quite sweet. We woke up one day and realized that the world needs more than a little balance and at times a little elegance. In the most modest way possible, we realized more people needed to have such a great beverage to enjoy. Who are we to deny them that opportunity and desire?
Q: Are you considering releasing any other flavor/fruit variations of Schlafly Hard Cider outside of the breweries?
A: You bet! We have had some great success along these lines and we intend to keep innovating and providing luscious, juicy offerings as long as everyone loves savoring them and toasting great times in their lives. We will be there right along with you bubbling in the glass. This is who we are, this is what you can count on.
Q: What is the distribution area for Schlafly Hard Apple Cider, and is there a plan to grow it?
A: We have our cider in both Missouri markets and in the Washington DC area. We customarily walk before we try to run and these two distribution markets allow us to watch a much larger customer base and how they enjoy our Hard Apple Cider. Again, if we feel we are on the mark and the world lets us know it wants more we will certainly grow our distribution.
Q: Any chance we will see Schlafly Hard Cider in bottles in the near future?
A: That would be really cool. We would love to put our cider in bottles. Optimistically, yes there is a chance we will see Schlafly Hard Apple Cider in bottles. Pragmatically, we will need to build enough demand to bring bottles of cider into the market. I’m liking the idea more and more. Let’s do this thing!