Durham, N.C. — In a time when craft beer was booming, John Clowney helped open a cidery.
Clowney, one of the owners of Bull City Ciderworks in Durham, knows his ciders are good. They can be slightly sweet and a bit spicy; crisp and easy drinking; or dry hopped and tropical.
A hard apple cider provides a clean, delicate background that lets other flavors bloom. Ferment the apples with cranberries for a more tart finish, or use pumpkin puree and vanilla bean for a cider that tastes like fall. If that's not enough, mix a couple of the flavors for something entirely new.
The creativity flowing through taps at Bull City makes the cider as varied and interesting as craft beer.
The craft cider industry, though, is still in its infancy, and it’s trying to crawl out from under the shadow of bigger brands, such as Angry Orchard and Smith & Forge. Taproom manager Melissa Chieffe said those brands have left a sickly sweet flavor in some people’s mouths, which might have turned them off from other ciders.
But, she notes, most people are quick to change.
“(Once they try it,) everyone wants to know more about cider,” Chieffe said.
Cider education is one of Clowney’s primary goals, too. From the cider making process to introducing bankers to the product, Clowney wants more people to know about the beverage. His introduction to cider school, though, is simple.
“Taste it,” he said.
Bull City Ciderworks is holding its grand opening on Saturday almost one year after they had to leave their original location on Elizabeth Street in Durham. The new digs are just around the corner, and the cidery brought its old vibe—and its old, yellow door—with it.
The taproom was empty on Wednesday morning. Picnic tables arranged in neat rows lined the inside, and new equipment sat in the cidery’s smaller production space that Clowney calls the “cider lab,” where they’ll experiment with smaller batches. The cidery has a much larger production and storage facility in Lexington.
Food trucks and live music will be on hand when Bull City Ciderworks rolls up it's big garage door on Saturday.