Thursday, March 28, 2013 , Updated 12:11 p.m., April 2, 2013
UPDATED: Bishop Cider Company reached its fundraising goal
Think cider's weak? John Adams drank a tankard for breakfast and then founded America.
OAK CLIFF Its hazy origins date back to the Middles Ages, and references to it pepper the diaries of American founders, but in contemporary local culture, ordering hard cider is often met with a look of skepticism -- or worse: accusations questioning one's Americanness or masculinity. Relegated to malt beverage status, or perceived as a mere mixer for bad beer, it may come as a shock that hard cider sits on the cusp of popular rejuvenation. That's what one local business owner believes, at least.
Among the overwhelming wave of local microbrewery openings in North Texas, Joel Malone plans to open Bishop Cider Company in Oak Cliff's Bishop Arts District this spring. Looking to dispel myths and disabuse ourselves of any unwarranted prejudices, we caught up with Malone for a little education about why cider is the next great libation to hit DFW.
"To the people that say cider is girly, I would like to pour them a glass of my Fence Sitter," Malone said. "It is a dark cider with a high IBU, ABV, and is very hoppy. It'll put hair on their chest."
Malone isn't worried about cider's ability to cross gender lines, nor is he concerned about snobbery within the community. Unlike beer -- which starts, of course, with four foundational ingredients: barley, hops, water, and yeast -- cider starts with a fruit juice, typically apple, that is fermented with yeast.
Cider is just as versatile as beer, Malone explained. Since fruits take the major role in its development, there is a wide range of options for experimentation, he said.
According to Bishop Cider Company's Kickstarter Page, the cidery's goal is to infuse more creativity into current cider making that is similar to the local beer market's "boundary pushing" ingredients that are sometimes "downright shocking."
To that end, the cidery will utilize ingredients from local farms and Dallas-based businesses as much as possible.
"We hope to incorporate east Texas pears and sugar plums, Fredericksburg peaches, and melons from the [Rio Grande] valley," Malone said. "Don't be surprised if we use jalapeños from the farmers market or chocolate from Dude, Sweet."
As of this writing, Bishop Cider Company is a little more than halfway to a $10,000 Kickstarter goal, with an April 12 deadline. The cidery has already completed most of the licensing and permitting hurdles, and funding will help create a national distribution program with online ordering.
[UPDATED: As of April 2, 2013, Bishop Cider Company hit its fundraising goal on Kickstarter.]
If all goes according to plan, Bishop Cider Company products will be available on local taps in late April or early May, with plans to open the cidery for tours and private parties to follow.
For those familiar with microbrewery tours, cidery tours will differ logistically. Unlike beer, it is legal to sell cider on-site for consumption. Legally speaking, the cidery operates as a winery, which means no "purchase the glass for free samples" machinations.
Malone is hopeful, however, that such open houses will create a community and allow the company to get to know Dallas' budding alcohol aficionados on a personal level. He chose the Bishop Arts District, specifically, as the cidery's home in hopes that the location would infuse the neighborhood's artistic and creative energy, he said.
And, he's eager to return cider's good name through education and progressive recipes.
"John Adams drank a tankard of hard cider at breakfast every day," Malone said. "There's nothing girly about a man that drinks alcohol for breakfast, puts his pants on, and then creates a country."
Learn more about hard cider and Bishop Cider Company's project here:
Dallas' first hard cidery, Bishop Cider Company, is coming soon in Oak Cliff
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