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Locust Cider

A new cidery in Woodinville

As with most "new" beverage trends (hard to call spirits or cider 'new'), we have embraced cider fully. So much so that there is now a shortage of cider apples in the state of Washington (we grow more than half of all apples in the US right here). Nonetheless, brothers Jason and Patrick Spears have dived into the cider pool and are now producing in Woodinville. Their canned and bottled ciders can be found at Thriftway and Haggen, and in local restaurants, bars and cider houses.

When Jason tragically contracted some sort of allergy to beer, he needed to find an alternative beverage. He stumbled (just a word, not a statement) upon Dupont, a French cider from Normandy and was hooked. "I love it, but it's expensive. I tried other ciders but they were too expensive, too sweet, too sour or just not drinkable. I started making my own about three years ago and it's taken that long to create our Original Dry." They've had their production and tasting rooms in Woodinville for three months and are one month into selling their cider.

They are producing four ciders now:

  • Original Dry. Smooth, lightly carbonated, hints of apple and pineapple. Low residual sugar. It cuts through rich food like barbecue (they're from Texas, so this is important).

  • Summer Berry. Seasonal, with a hint of blueberry (Washington state berries); refreshing, now sweet.

  • Dark Sweet Cherry: Seasonal and their sweetest cider; all Washington cherries.

  • Green Tea. Infused with Chinese green decaffeinated tea before and after fermentation. Adds a hint of bitterness and creates a nice balance of tea and apple flavors. Good with spicy Asian dishes or bold Italian food.

On the way are two reserve ciders. A cider from desert apples, and a cider using Normandy bittersweet apples, bottle conditioned. These are aged five months. "The Normandy has a bitter mouth feel," explains Jason. "I hate to import apples, but am really excited about this cider, so we'll keep importing." All ciders are slow cold fermented in tanks, below 60° F, to produce fruity and smooth flavors. Depending on the cider, they're aged for a few weeks to a number of months. Each cider is produced with a different yeast. "I really like the wild yeast, but the cider probably won't be repeatable. We need to be able to repeat for consistency, although we will make seasonal and special ciders. With such a small production space, we have the apples pressed in eastern Washington and trucked in as juice. Apples mainly come from the Yakima Valley."

Jason and Patrick come from a fairly large family (four boys, one girl; Patrick is the youngest). Neither of them has a background in beverage, although Jason has worked for Starbucks, in manufacturing, and owned a coffee house, American bistro with a concert venue, and a barbecue joint in Colorado. Patrick recently graduated from Arizona State University (switching from engineering to journalism). While Jason's wife Rebecca is not directly involved in the business, "She is the one who takes care of our two kids, and me and Patrick. She's the star."

L-R, Patrick, Jason, Rebecca

While small, the tasting room is very pleasant with large, light wood tables and black stools. A garage-style door rolls up so guests can enjoy the summer weather while sipping cider. As for the name, when Jason was 13 and living in Texas he had a near-death experience. He could hear the locusts' pulsating sound. "It was a life-changing moment and taught me to take control and never accept less than the best. This is a personal business and I want to offer the best to everyone."

Another interesting Washington apple factoid: Americans eat approximately 19 pounds of fresh apples annually, compared to about 46 pounds consumed annually by residents of European countries. It's unclear if drinking cider equates to eating an apple, but if it does, we are on the road to catching up with those apple-eating residents of European countries. Go USA!

Locust Cider
19151 144th Ave NE
(warehouse winery district)
Woodinville, WA 98072
206-494-5968

www.locustcider.com

Connie Adams/July 2015


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