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Fresh pressed: Cider comes to Colorado’s Apple Valley

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A long, winding drive through the mountains on the way back from Grand Junction gave Kevin Williams time to reflect and think about his future. Inspired by a brewery he had recently visited, Williams was racking his brain for a way to incorporate a location or aspect related to Pueblo into a nano brewery he had long planned to open. And as the winding roads continued to clear Williams’ thoughts, it hit him: Penrose is known as Apple Valley. Why not open a cidery there?

Kevin Williams, former brewmaster at Walter’s Brewery in Pueblo, wants to put Penrose on the beer map with his Apple Valley Cider.

A week later he mentioned the random idea to his dad, who a few days later had a building picked out for him just off of Highway 115 next door to Broadway’s Bar & Grill. Starting with a blank space, the building owner worked with Williams and has built the location to fit the needs of a cidery.

Floor drains have been installed, a large walk-in cooler has been constructed, and an office is in place. A few more finishing touches and Williams will begin making cider under the aptly named brand Apple Valley Cider. His current plan is to have bottles of his three ciders: a semi-sweet, peach, and black currant on store shelves near the beginning of February.

No stranger to what it takes to come up with craft recipes, execute on the tasty ideas, and then market and sell, William’s started his professional brewing career at Walter’s Brewing in Pueblo. He has since moved on, citing the desire to move from employee to owner of his own business as the main reason.

Williams has been experimenting and making cider almost from day one of his homebrewing days, and has continued to do so even when he moved on to brewing professionally. It has been a learning process, but one that he feels has led up to the point where he’s ready to share with the outside world.

Brewing beer and making cider are similar in a few ways, namely starting with a sugary substance that you add yeast. However, the process is vastly different when it comes to the amount of labor required during the brewing process itself. Instead of long, hot, and heavy brewing sessions where larger burners and heavy bags of grain are required, making cider consists of mixing juice with water, adding some yeast, and waiting for nature to do its thing. That may be a bit simplified, but you get the point.

The more intense part of the process is going to be bottling and kegging cider for distribution. Currently, Williams plans to distribute everywhere he can within an hour drive of Penrose. So, that means Pueblo County, El Paso County, and Fremont County. Salida and Buena Vista will potentially be included in the first round of cities he will self-distribute in.

As a member of the Steel City Brewers homebrew club, I’ve known Williams for a couple of years now. During that time, I’ve had the chance to taste some of his ciders. More recently, he started asking the club to taste what (unknown to us at the time) would soon become his first three cider variations for Apple Valley Cidery. Over the course of several months and several iterations, I tasted ciders that went from decent to OMG YOU NEED TO SELL THIS.

Apple Valley Cider

The semi-sweet cider has plenty of apple flavor with a pleasant amount of sweetness. The peach cider is, in not so many words, delicious. It tastes exactly like the peach candy rings you can get from a convenience store—only better. It’s not overly sweet, and the peach is clearly present from start to finish. As for the black currant cider, there’s a notable tartness to the cider that’s rather enjoyable.

Apple Valley Cider won’t have a formal taproom. Instead, the Broadway’s Bar & Grill next door will serve as an informal taproom where you can try out any of the currently available ciders. Williams will have a grand opening party and special tastings as new flavors are released in the front room of Apple Valley Ciders.

Speaking of special tastings, Williams is working with Jenkins Farms to create a special release Apple Valley Cider made with apples from the Jenkins’ orchard. Exact details and timing are still being worked out, but I could tell by the excitement on his face that it’s going to be big.

If you want to keep tabs on Apple Valley Cider, like the Facebook page where Williams will post more details about his impending launch and release party.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
  • Kevin Williams, former brew master at Walter's Brewery in Pueblo, wants to put Penrose on the beer map with his Apple Valley Cider.

  • Apple Valley Cider

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Beer

The Seal of Craft Beer Independence

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The next time you pick up a six-pack of your favorite craft beer, it’s possible you’ll notice a new seal on the carrier or bottle.

The Independent Craft Brewer Seal was announced in June of 2017 by the Brewers Association as a way for craft breweries who have remained independent to easily display their freedom from Big Beer corporations.

Breweries, small and large, (including the well-known Dogfish Head) were quick to adopt the seal. Since then, over 3,000 independent breweries have signed up to start using the seal according to the Brewers Association.

So, why use a seal to proclaim independence anyway? Because the likes of ABInBev (owner of Budweiser, Cerveza Corona, and Stella Artois) along with Molson Coors (owner of Coors, Blue Moon, and Keystone) have made a habit of buying successful craft breweries to capitalize on the trend.

Smaller breweries need help with finances to boost production and reach nation or international markets, and often times being bought out is the most effective way to get to that point.

But the problem remains that when a locally owned craft brewery is bought out for that “localness,” the new conglomerates don’t broadcast or want to tell beer drinkers that they aren’t so local.

For example, Breckenridge Brewery was bought by ABInBev at the end of 2015, but from its marketing and packaging you wouldn’t know it unless you keep tabs on industry news.

Now, Breckenridge beer is everywhere. In grocery stores, at the state fair, and cheaper than ever. Not necessarily a bad thing if you’re a big fan of a brewery with new overlords.

However, the rub is when instead of supporting someone who is local with each bomber or sixer you pick up, you’re supporting a mega-corporation with a history of less than appealing practices. Jobs are cut or moved overseas, smaller breweries are pushed off shelf space, and prices can’t be matched.

The seal, in part, is supposed to help reassure craft beer drinkers they are buying a sudsy beverage from an independent brewery. In order to use the seal, breweries have to fall within a specific set of craft brewery guidelines from the Brewers Association.

If you’re ever in doubt about a breweries independence and you can’t find the seal anywhere on packaging, there’s a handy website that curates breweries.

Point your phone or computer to IsItBigBeer.com and enter a breweries name. Entering Wicked Weed, for example, will show it’s owned by ABInBev. However, searching for Odd13 will return nothing — which is good news!

On Tap: Speaking of Odd13, the local (and, yes, independent) brewery is known for a myriad of New England IPAs. Also called hazy IPAs or juicy IPAs, NEIPAS typically have a lower level of bitterness, can be a tad sweet, but still have a ridiculous number of hops. Odd13, Epic Brewing, and New Belgium each have their own hazy IPAs on shelves throughout town. Even if you aren’t a big fan of hoppy beers, give a NEIPA a try. You may find a new appreciation for hops.

One more thing...

Local and independent journalism is under threat in the West and you change that.  With corporate raiders slashing newsrooms across the West, the PULP is one of the "Last Locals" in Colorado to produce original, compelling journalism missing in today's profit hungry world. But that costs money, time and hard work. We don't believe in spamming you with ads or putting up restrictive paywalls and that's why we need your help.

For every contribution, we put 100% back into producing original and amazing journalism. That's a promise only a local and independent newsroom can promise. Take heart because you will fuel stories just like this one and the future of journalism.
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