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In 2011, Bates College seniors Ross Brockman and Tyler Mosher found themselves approaching graduation with no job prospects or plan for post-grad life. After growing up on the family orchard and talking with Brockman’s father, they decided hard cider was the way to go. The pair began brewing hard cider in their dorm room until they were busted by Bates campus security. After graduation, Brockman and Mosher moved back to Waterville, Maine to work on their new-found dream. After 56 variations, the pair found the taste they were looking for, and Downeast Cider was born.
The Hub was recently given a tour of the Downeast Cider House from Alfred Link, member of the Downeast Cider Marketing Team.
The cider house, located directly beneath the Tobin Bridge in Charlestown, offers free tours and samplings to those 21+ on Saturdays from 11-7 and Sundays from 12-6. The 9,000 square foot cider house gives off an industrial yet laid back vibe, while tour-goers are quite literally in the mix of cider production, surrounded by eight fermentation tanks, a 52 can a-minute assembly line, and palates of canned cider stacked to the ceiling. If you’re lucky you may even be greeted with a friendly sniff from unofficial Downeast Cider mascot, Morty the dog.
Downeast Cider currently has three year round blends-the Original, the soon to be phased out Unoriginal, and Cranberry. The cider house also offers four seasonal blends, the more recent being the limited edition Pumpkin Blend and soon to be released Winter Blend.
What makes Downeast different from other hard ciders? “It’s fresh pressed, unfiltered, and cloudy. It’s more balanced than other ciders because it’s made with ale yeast, so it’s more similar in style to beer,” says Link.
Downeast uses Macintosh and other dessert apples produced by local farmers to achieve what Link describes as “sweet burst with a tart finish.”
“It’s also sold in cans instead of bottles, so it’s portable,” which Link says is an idea that spawned back when the creators where on their college ski team.
Downeast Cider will also have a booth at the Beer Summit Harvest Fest at Park Plaza Castle November 20th and 21st. Festival attendees can expect samples of 4 blends which will include the Original Blend, Winter Blend, Original Blend Gone Wild (a sour version of the OG blend) and a Saison Cider.
For even more of a Downeast fix, hard cider lovers can also attend the cidery’s public ticketed events, such as the upcoming Ugly Sweater Christmas party and Trivia Night. Downeast also hosts private events in its space, such as corporate parties, weddings, and even the occasional yoga class.
The cider house employs 27 people, but company also boasts 215 people to do outside promotions and events in other states. The cider is distributed throughout the Northeast from the tip of Maine to New York and New Jersey, with Boston being its biggest market.
Downeast moved to the current Terminal Street location in 2013 and has already begun to outgrow the space. According to Link, Downeast recently signed a lease for a second location in East Boston.
“It sells faster than we can make it, which is a good problem to have,” said Link.