Sunday, September 15, 2013

Blown Spoke's apples fall close to the Beaver tree

The popularity of craft beer is also helping to spawn another parallel industry here in Colorado - hard cider. Colorado has begun to spring forth several hard cider companies and now Loveland, Colorado is getting into the act. From the creators of Big Beaver Brewing Company comes a spin-off called Blown Spoke Hard Cider Company. This new cidery actually shares part of the same building as it sibling brewery and is connected by a short hallway. Despite being owned by the same people, legally, the cidery's licenses don't allow hard cider and craft beer to mix. And in case you forget, there's a sign on the wall reminding you that you can't take your cider next door to the slightly larger tasting room at the Beaver.

Blown Spoke Hard Cider Company occupies the front end of the building at 2707 W. Eisenhower Boulevard in Loveland, Colorado. The entrance is on the south side of the building facing Eisenhower and there is a small tasting room and taps containing 10 different hard ciders, cysers and coming soon even a mead. What you don't see at Blown Spoke is their production area. Big Beaver and Blown Spoke both share a production room for the time being.

When I arrived just shortly after they opened on a Saturday, I was the only one in the tasting room. The room was dimly lit despite having a big glass window up front. The tasting room had space for about 25 people to sit down. About 30 minutes later, there were several groups in the room trying out taster trays. For most people who are new to hard cider, getting a flight of taster glasses seemed to be the way to go.

I opted to try 5 of their 10 offerings. I tried the 3 variations of their standard apple hard cider: an Apple Dry, an Apple Semi-Dry, and an Apple Sweet. I also selected their Summit Dry (higher gravity with pear, peach and apple), and a Cyser (honey, clove and hard cider combo). Blown Spoke also had 3 variations of a cranberry apple cider, a cherry apple cider and lemon apple cider. Those I'll save for my next visit. All of these drinks are gluten free so for those who can't consume gluten now have an alternative to craft beer.

Blown Spoke tap wall Tasting Room

My server told me that Blown Spoke has also recently obtained a downtown Loveland location at 245 S. Madison Avenue that will end up being a larger production facility with a possible 2nd tasting room. The new facility will be ready in about 6 months, roughly in the spring of 2014. They really don't have much room for production since they share space with Big Beaver Brewing, so they wanted to get their own production room just for ciders so they can make more than they make now. As it stands, Blown Spoke only makes about 10 gallons of cider at a time.

As for the cider? Here's my impression. There's a taste for just about everyone. You can get 2oz tasters, 12oz pull pours and a 32oz cider growler to go. What was nice about having variations of the same cider is that you could taste them side by side. The Apple Dry and Apple Semi-Dry were noticeably less sweet than the Apple Sweet. The Apple Sweet was nearly as sweet as apple juice, but with an alcoholic twist. I enjoyed the Apple Semi-Dry the best of the three.

As for the Summit Dry, that cider tasted a lot different than the 3 regular apple as there was higher alcohol and a blending of pear and peach added to the mix. At first I didn't like the taste compared to the regular apple, but then I found myself finishing the Summit Dry before all of the others and ended up liking that one the best.

Blown Spoke Half Track Connecting hall to Big Beaver

The Cyser ended up reminding me of mead. There was a familiar honey and clove taste that I've seen in mead, but with an apple base. This one ended up being finished off second. If their upcoming mead is as tasty as this one then I'll be sure to be back to try that. Blown Spoke also sells wine by the bottle as well from Canyon Wind in red, white or rose. Cheese plates and Nita crisps were also available in the tasting room.

Overall, I think hard ciders are a great alternative to craft beer, especially when you're looking for something a bit different and slightly fruity. It'll be nice to see how their bigger production facility turns out. They'll need the extra space to keep up with expected demand.

Update: Since this article was originally posted, the name of the business was changed to Climb Hard Cider Company.

Related articles:
- Angry Orchard Hard Ciders review.
- Colorado Cider Company Glider Cider Dry review.
- A visit to Big Beaver Brewing Company. (2011)

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