For enthusiasts of everything craft, Duluth is living up to its name as the Zenith City. Breweries and distilleries are flourishing and have quickly become fixtures of the city’s cultural and nightlife scenes. With all of these great beers and spirits available, it seems only natural to ask: Where’s the cider?
Duluth will soon be able to point to the Lincoln Park Craft District in response, where the city’s first cidery, Duluth Cider, is on track to open in mid-November. Owners Jake and Valerie Scott, along with longtime friend and production manager Christian Fraser, have been working nonstop on furnishing their space on West Superior Street and finalizing plans for the grand opening. “We’re really excited to invite everyone out for Duluth’s first night of [locally made] cider—ever,” Jake says.
The trio met while attending college at the University of Minnesota–Duluth, where they shared a passion for homebrewing. The Scotts moved to the Boston area in 2014 and honed their craft with the help of the staff at Far From the Tree Cider in Salem, Massachusetts, where Valerie worked as taproom manager. Their dream of opening a cidery back in Duluth eventually blossomed into a reality, and they secured the space for what would become the city’s first cidery in 2017.
According to Valerie, the East Coast is home to a burgeoning cider scene. In comparison, the craft cider industry in Minnesota is relatively young. There are signs of growth, though: In the months following their big reveal about Duluth Cider, another cidery—Wild State Cider—also announced that it would be taking root in the city and opening later this year or early 2019, just two blocks away from Duluth Cider on West Superior Street.
“From the beginning of this, we just knew that other cideries were going to follow,” Jake says. “We would love to see a dozen cideries pop up in the next decade in Duluth and introduce more people to what good cider can be.”
Duluth Cider will have seven ciders on tap for opening day and will be offering tasting flights, full pours, and growlers of all four. There are a variety of styles in the works, ranging from semi-sweet to dry-hopped and dry. “We plan on having something that will appeal to everyone on the spectrum,” Jake says. Seasonal ciders and smaller, more experimental batches are planned for the near future; the Scotts hinted at an autumn chai cider and a berry-mint variety for next summer.
The past few months have been hectic for the trio as they’ve worked to renovate their century-old building (once the stables for the post office, which is still located across the street), develop recipes, install equipment, and do all the other things that go into opening a taproom.
There have been legal hurdles to navigate, as well. Legally, cider is regulated as a type of wine. So, the Scotts approached the City of Duluth seeking a winery license. It was then that they, along with the city officials, discovered that there was no such thing in Duluth—yet. Eventually, everything got squared away.
“I would say it is comparable to running a marathon,” says Valerie of the process of getting everything in order to open. “It really is a daily emotional roller coaster, because nothing is guaranteed,” Jake adds. “It’s a big risk. But it’s also incredibly exciting.”
In addition to the Scotts and Fraser, Duluth Cider will have about a dozen employees. Plans for distribution to local restaurants are in the works, and they intend to get the ball rolling on kegging and canning once the taproom is open.
The rustic taproom will be able to accommodate 115 people, sporting a stage for local musicians, which the Scotts consider an important part of the Duluth community. They’ll serve snacks from local vendors in the taproom, and guests can also order food to be delivered to their table from Duluth Grill, OMC Smokehouse, and Corktown Deli.
Duluth Cider’s official opening date is November 14.
Cidermaker: Matt Lynn
Cider: Zenith (dry with hints of oak, lemon, and butter); Gitch (sweet with rich apple flavor and notes of honey); The Navigator (hopped semi-dry with hints of sage and eucalyptus); Chai (traditional cider infused with blend of chai spices); Bliss (semi-sweet with cranberry and herbs); Sawtooth (single-hopped with Saaz hops, semi-sweet); Loral (single-hopped with Loral hops, semi-sweet)
Address: 2307 W. Superior St., Duluth, MN 55806
Hours: Mon–Thu: 12pm–10pm; Fri–Sat: 12pm–11pm; Sun: 11pm–7pm
Online: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram
Grand Opening: November 14, 2018