New Belgium Brewing has almost completed their Asheville, North Carolina brewery build. With that project near completion, the brewery is already looking into a new chapter. Hard cider.
In July, ever-so-quietly, New Belgium released small batches of Side Trip Series cider. Draft appeared in market in Asheville at a special debut event at the well known Thirsty Monk, then cans at local retailers.
Surprised? We were too.
New Belgium has excelled over the years in the ale and wild ale categories. Fat Tire is a beer household name. The wood cellar at the Fort Collins, Colorado brewery is a pilgrimage for many. What does a brewery do when they have done so many outstanding things? They start the groundwork on what looks to be a future cidery.
Right now there are two ciders in the Side Trip Series. Dry, and Semi-Dry. The difference in the two is basically the amount of residual sugar left after fermentation. The “dry” cider has the least amount of sugar. Both styles are clean and refreshing.
New Belgium is canning in Vermont, with the help of renowned cider maker, Woodchuck. The apples, are New York and New England apples. In the future, the brewery would like to use all local North Carolina apples. According to the state’s Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, the demand is already so high for the state’s apples, a national cider program by New Belgium would require new orchards. That’s around a 5 year grow time.
If New Belgium goes national with this cider program, the brewery mentions they will end up adding a full blown cidery facility. That build is a bit down the road right now.
In our opinion, these ciders are already a home run. A fantastic showing of versatility and quality from New Belgium.
If you are in the Asheville area anytime soon, you’ll find these cans exclusively at select retailers.