2 Fools Cider House targets opening in Naperville

A new take on the craft beverage market plans to make its home in Naperville as long as liquor laws can be tweaked to allow it.

Hard Core Bev., Inc. wants to establish a cidery called 2 Fools Cider House with an “industrial winery” vibe on Quincy Avenue across the street from Solemn Oath Brewery, and the owners are targeting Labor Day weekend for a possible opening.

Longtime home brewers Jeremy Smith of Naperville and Monte Summers of Oak Park want to turn their hobby into a business producing cider with about 7 percent alcohol by volume and serving it in a tasting room. They've been brewing ciders for more than 10 years, winning over the taste buds of friends, including some who run bars. Cider, they say, is a thing of the past — in a good way.

“Pre-prohibition, cider was the beverage of choice,” Summers said.

Then alcohol was banned across America, orchards were torched and tastes changed. German immigrants flooded the country and brought with them their beverage of choice: beer.

Hard cider stayed relatively dormant for years. But increased interest in unusual beverages, along with the launch of national cider brands such as Angry Orchard and Crispin, has led to new popularity for the apple-inspired drink.

“The onset of craft beer has given rebirth to the craft cider industry,” Summers said.

Liquor commission members unanimously said they'd love to have the cidery join Naperville's business community and they anticipate it will draw enthusiastic crowds.

“To have an actual cider-producing facility serving cider only is something I think would be met with a lot of excitement and also be very good for business in Naperville,” Commissioner Marc Blackman said.

Before 2 Fools Cider House gets final approval, the city council will have to tweak its Class P liquor license, which allows up to two breweries to operate in the city. Solemn Oath is the only licensed commercial brewery in Naperville, so there's room for Hard Core Bev. to take the last spot under the cap.

The license so far allows only beer to be brewed at volumes of up to 3.7 million gallons per year. But cider — although associated with craft beers — is actually considered a wine. Cider is made from fruit, not from grains, which leads cideries to be classified as wineries by the federal and state government.

The city council could adjust the wording of the brewery license to allow for wineries during its Aug. 16 meeting.

Until then, Summers and Smith say they'll continue crafting their ciders at home, giving the drinks time to age and soak in flavor.

“The longer cider has to mellow out, the better it tastes,” Smith said.

Outdoor seating likely for Naperville brewery

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