Energetic, young, enterprising entrepreneurs Andy Petek and Corey Haugen made an educated decision in choosing Woodinville’s Warehouse District as its headquarters for Grizzly Ciderworks, the latest entry in the adult beverage market in the Puget Sound area.
Grizzly is the brainchild of Haugen — who turned his passion for perfecting hard cider brewing into a business opportunity –— and his friend Petek, who brought his background in alcohol sales, marketing and brand management to the mix.
Coupled with both of them having the desire to become entrepreneurs, the partnership became the perfect blend of collaboration to start Grizzly Ciderworks when the two agreed to turn a dream into reality in 2012. A silent co-founder rounds out the team at Grizzly.
Grizzly Ciderworks is just the third craft hard cidery in the region to open, considering there are over 30 craft hard cider producers in operation in the Portland area. Nationally, sales of U.S. hard cider have tripled in the five-year period between 2007 and 2012 to $600 million according to a June 3, 2013, post on the website Brewbound.
Woodinville was the perfect fit because of its established reputation as a destination for premier quality wineries, breweries, distilleries and now a cidery.
Historically, hard cider was the most popular beverage in the U.S. until Prohibition, according to Petek. It’s taken years for a resurgence in the drink’s popularity to occur. Locally, Seattle Cider Company, based in Seattle’s Industrial District, was the first operating cidery within the city since Prohibition when they opened their doors in late August.
Since its inception, Grizzly has set its sights on bridging the gap between beer and cider. With an abundance of sweet ciders on the market, Grizzly set out to expand cider’s reach by introducing beer drinkers to the world of dry cider.
"At Grizzly, dry-hopped cider is our thing," says Petek, adding, "We didn’t seek out a niche to make a differentiating statement, but rather explored what we could do to continue growing the cider-drinking community. We don’t want to battle with our neighbors in the cider business who we have so much respect and admiration for. Rather than producing products similar to the existing and successful cider companies, competing in a ‘Coke vs. Pepsi’ type arena for the same consumer, we looked at how to bring in a new group of consumers."
Grizzly wants to be known for its specialty Dry-Hopped Ciders (DHC’s), which contain apples from the Skagit Valley, Yakima and Wenatchee along with hops and other ingredients sourced from the Northwest.
The apples are crushed and juiced, then fermented with yeast for a couple of weeks until the yeast has consumed virtually all the natural sugars in the juice, making it completely dry, explains Haugen.
He then finishes each cider by adding some special ingredients to create a unique flavor blend.
The resulting beverages are aimed at beer drinkers who are looking for a new twist on old tastes, cider drinkers who are looking for a full-bodied step-up in the market, along with drinkers who are sensitive to glutens, as hard cider is gluten-free.
Grizzly’s three founders, including the company’s cidermaker, Corey Haugen, all hail from the Pacific Northwest. "We’re really proud to be a part of the craft cider movement," said Haugen. "With so many great ciders on the market today, we’re hoping to gain traction with cider and beer drinkers who want to try something a bit different. People who’ve never tried cider don’t quite know what to expect. We go ahead and tell them to set their preconceived notions aside. So far, our feedback’s been overwhelming and folks are really excited for Grizzly to hit the taps. We think we’ll make a lot of conversions to the brand," he said.
Yes, indeed. Set your preconceived notions aside like my husband and I did on a recent test tasting. My husband, an avid beer drinker was sure he wouldn’t enjoy any of Grizzly’s offerings, while I, with an avid aversion to beer, was doubtful I’d enjoy something made using hops. We were both surprisingly wrong, and quickly became the newest fans of Grizzly Ciderworks hard ciders. Endowed with the nation’s largest supply of apples and hops, Washington state is an epicenter of the nation’s growing cider movement.
"The world is rediscovering cider, and the Pacific Northwest has established itself as one of America’s leading cider regions. We are excited to welcome Grizzly Ciderworks as the newest member of our Northwest cidermaking family," said David White, president of the Northwest Cider Association and co-owner of Olympia-based Whitewood Cider Company.
Grizzly’s path to craft took an interesting turn earlier this year when it crossed paths with Vessel Wines, a Northwest producer of kegged wines, which shares the same commitment to local sourcing and production. A unique partnership was born, with the two sharing resources to target new markets. Thanks to Vessel’s state-of-the-art kegging equipment, Grizzly plans to be on tap in bars and restaurants across the Seattle metro area within a few weeks. They have plans to hit retail markets early next year.
Grizzly and Vessel’s shared facilities are located at 19405 144th Ave. NE in Building D, which fronts 144th. They include a tank room and mezzanine taproom, both of which are frequently filled with interesting people, music and other live events. Grizzly is poured nightly in the taproom usually from Thursday through Saturday, unless a private event is scheduled.
The company has three varieties in its Founders’ Series available before year-end: The Ridge, its original dry and crisp cider and The Bruin, a dark and dry hopped cider, are already available in the Vessel Taproom. Meanwhile, the Hopclaw, a triple-hopped cider beaming with citrus and aroma hops will debut on December 12 at a special release party at Capitol Cider, located on Seattle’s Capitol Hill. The Bruin and The Ridge are also offered at Capitol Cider leading up the release party in December.
RazzBear, a dry-hopped cider based on a Northwest raspberry purée, will make its debut next spring. For more information, including the taproom’s weekly schedule of the days and hours of operation, visit www.grizzlycider.com.