Pinehopple? Suburban cider makers take the popular beverage in different directions
Just as independent small breweries have led the way in experimenting with new flavors and beer styles, suburban cideries are moving beyond the traditional taste of apple.
At 2 Fools Cider in Naperville, co-owner and president Monte Summers said his top three sellers are Rosé Hard Cider, Tart Cherry and Pinehopple, a summerlike cider with fresh pineapple and blood orange.
"We started out as a company to make traditional English-style dry cider," Summers said, noting that traditional English ciders are made wholly from apple juice. "But this is what the consumer wants."
Even though other ingredients are present in their three top sellers, Summers said each is nearly all apple cider. He said 2 Fools' Rosé Hard Cider is 99% apple cider with just enough blueberry to make it colorful.
"You might get some blueberry flavor in there if you are a supertaster," Summers said.
Mike Seaman, the taproom manager at Broken Brix in St. Charles, said he thinks the sky is the limit when it comes to new flavored ciders. Seaman's parents own Broken Brix, which produces both wine and cider and sells home-brew equipment.
One of their best-sellers is a rosé cider made with tart cherries from Michigan.
"Most of our ciders are at least 80% apple," Seaman said. "We've been playing around with putting elderberries and so many other flavors into ciders."
Seaman said often if the experiments turn out well they will sell them by the glass in the tasting room.
"There is so much you can do with a simple base of apples," Seaman said.
The exception is Brix's pear cider, which does not rely on apples.
Summers said while consumers have made it clear they prefer sweeter ciders that have other fruit flavors in them, he hopes that people's tastes evolve.
"I think generally people start liking the sweeter things and their tastes migrate," Summers said. "As the craft cider industry gets more mature more people hopefully will mature their palettes to drier stuff."