A cider company started by students from the University of Minnesota is now opening a taproom in Minneapolis.
The company itself isn't new – Lionheart Cider has been around since 2015, and it was making its cider out in Washington state.
But it's always been cidermaker Jason Dayton's goal to open a production facility and taproom in Minneapolis. And now that's what he's doing, a news release says.
Lionheart Cider will also be rebranded as Minneapolis Cider Company.
“Starting the business in college presented unique challenges. We had to establish a level of credibility before we were able to convince investors and banks to put forward the capital required for the new facility," Dayton said in a statement.
Minneapolis Cider Company hopes to open in the first half of 2018 in northeast Minneapolis, although an exact date and location haven't been finalized yet. Dayton told GoMN they're working on finalizing some things, and hope to announce the location "within the next few weeks."
And when it does open, it'll be the first taproom in the Twin Cities where people can buy cider in 12-ounce and 16-ounce cans.
(This all comes down to alcohol licensing – cidermakers are typically licensed as wineries, so they're not restricted to only selling growlers or crowlers out of the taproom like breweries are.)
Which ciders to expect
Currently, Lionheart/Minneapolis Cider Company is making three ciders, but more are in the works.
Here's what the cidery currently offers (they're all naturally gluten-free):
– Semi-Dry, which is described as "crisp, clean, refreshing," and tastes like you're biting into a freshly picked apple.
– Rhubarb, which is rhubarb mixed with semi-dry cider that makes it "tart, balanced, refreshing."
– Citrus Hop, which is cloudy, dry-hopped and infused with fresh citrus fruit that's "basically summer in a glass."
Semi-Dry and Rhubarb are Lionheart staples. The company has been making the Citrus Hop infusion for beer festivals, but the plan is to start making it all the time.
Until the facility opens in Minneapolis, these ciders will be sold under the Lionheart brand, with Dayton telling GoMN "if it says Minneapolis Cider on the front, we want our consumers to know that it's made here in Minneapolis."
Hard cider is growing in popularity
Dayton told GoMN it's "exciting" to see cider becoming more popular, and noted while craft beer ends up on more tap handles, the actual amount of beer people are drinking has stayed flat – or even dipped.
He said cider is benefiting from millennials, who are shifting from craft beer to wine and spirits.
That's backed up by a recent Goldman Sachs report, which said millennials are drinking less overall – and when they are drinking, it's more often wine and spirits rather than beer, according to CNBC.
Dayton said part of that reason is because people are turning to healthier options. He said cider is positioned to be that healthier, lower-alcohol alternative – especially craft cider, which typically has less sugar than big-name brands.
The growth of cider has been seen in Minnesota. As of 2016, there were 78 licensed farm wineries in the state of Minnesota (so that's wineries and most cideries), according to state figures. In 2011, there were just 46.
Earlier this year, cidermakers in the state launched the Minnesota Cider Guild.