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Good Beer Hunting

Sep 28, 2019

Hard seltzer aside, conversations around the alcohol industry still tend to circle the trio of beer, wine, and spirits. Flavored malt beverages, like those seltzers, have recently entered our lexicon, but what about cider? It feels like discussions about cider as the next big step in booze happened far in the past—it might only have been a few years ago, but that timeframe can feel far extended in beer years.

While major cider labels like Angry Orchard, Crispin, Woodchuck, and others have slowly given away a little of their market share, local and regional cider brands have been on fire in recent years. “Macro” versions of the drink have shown double-digit losses around the country for a while, while the more local counterparts have seen the exact opposite, growing in the teens pretty much anywhere you might shop for the apple-based, alcoholic drink.

In this episode of the podcast, we’re going down to the orchard with Amie Fields, the sales manager and a partner at Cedar Grove, North Carolina’s Botanist & Barrel, a cidery and winery. As a self-described “experimental” fermentation company, Botanist & Barrel’s business model wouldn’t sound too out of place if you transferred the idea to a brewery. The Botanist & Barrel team focuses on how one-off and specialty batches react with different fruit, and age their ciders in a variety of wooden casks as a way to lend nuance and terroir to a drink many consumers may think of in terms of a straightforward, sugary-sweet beverage.

There’s a lot of ground to cover with Amie, and if you’re not a cider drinker, this conversation gives you a peek behind the curtain of what that side of the beverage alcohol industry is like right now. Amie sheds light on what it means to convince people to think differently about cider, the challenges of selling the product, and what a career in wine has provided her as she finds new ways to talk about cider, whether bottled for special occasions, or canned for more casual buyers.

It’s always good to step outside our areas of expertise, and I hope you pick up insight into the cider category you didn’t know about before. Amie’s perspective was incredibly valuable to me, particularly in the context of learning about a category we don’t often consider.

This is Amie Fields of Botanist & Barrel. Listen in.