By John Garland
Mitch Leidel’s family has been on the same plot of land north of La Crescent, MN since the mid-1800s. His great-grandfather planted the orchard in 1917, on which his grandfather worked his entire life.
Looking for new sources of revenue to keep the farm alive, Leidel’s Cider was born after consultation with Levi Funk (a family friend whose Funk Factory was producing lambics with O’so Brewing Co. of Plover, WI).
“We’ve drawn a lot of our inspiration for the cider from what he’s doing with lambics. Levi is well-versed in Brett,” says Leidel, who selected a single strain of Brettanomyces for Hebron’s fermentation. “We started playing around with a few different strains and found one with some really unique flavor profiles – complex, full, earthy and clean. You get a little bit of that mustiness to it, but it’s not overpowering like in some Brett-fermented products.”
Hebron begins with Haralson, McIntosh, Wealthy and Cortland, among a few other type of apples. It goes through a four-week fermentation, then two months maturing on its lees before being bottled unfiltered. The finished cider (6.75% ABV, $13 for 750ml) sports a light straw color with a lazy carb from a touch of bottle conditioning (Leidel tells us that for future batches, they’ll begin force-carbonating for better consistency).
The smell is yeast and sweet apples, with a barely perceptible Brett funk among clean apple and straw flavors on the sip. It’s somewhat dry but not astringent, as the natural apple sweetness holds its own against some nuanced tart and sourness.
The product in stores now was from his first large batch. A second is currently in production and is slated for release sometime in the early
summer autumn. Further on the horizon for Leidel’s – Mitch hopes to plant some traditional English cider varieties and work with aging product in bourbon barrels. Check Leidel’s twitter for an array of retail stores where Hebron is available.
Updated May 17th, 2014