Jonathan Moore and Diana Powell opened Broad Street Cider & Ale (2723 S. Broad St.; www.broadstreetcider.com) July 22. The couple discovered a love of cider while traveling in Europe, where ciders are crisper and drier than those commonly produced in the U.S. Their cidery is the first of its kind in New Orleans and includes a pub. Moore spoke with Gambit about cider.
What did you learn about European ciders?
Moore: When we were traveling, mostly in the British Empire, we realized we loved the cider we had all over — in Spain, in the U.K., Australia. I had been brewing beer and making cider at home for a number of years and realized how exciting it was. I took a course at Oregon State (University) in Portland and learned a little bit about techniques. Everyone was making the same type of cider across the U.S., which is one of the things we were frustrated with.
Grapes naturally have about 80 different flavor profiles, while apples have four: perceived sweetness, perceived bitterness, lack of perceived sweetness, lack of perceived bitterness. Just using a simple white wine yeast, which is supposed to reflect the natural nuances within grapes — if you're doing that with apples, it's like cooking chicken with no seasoning.
The craft cider movement is now where craft beer was 20 years ago. What we're focusing on is a lot of fun: using the natural abilities of yeast to provide different flavors. So not reinventing the wheel, but borrowing from craft beer (techniques). So, adding a hefeweizen yeast to cider and then using the same juice and adding a saison yeast, you'd get two totally different flavor profiles. With cider — like beer — you get up to 70 percent of your flavor from your yeast.
How does making cider differ from brewing beer or making wine?
M: It's closer to making wine. We are a bonded winery as far as the federal government is concerned. So we can make wine, cider and mead — essentially anything that's not malted or distilled. With brewing beer, the verb there is to "brew," so you're taking grains, adding hot water, extracting the sugars and then taking the sugars and breaking them down, cooling that liquid and pitching the yeast. Making cider is just the "pitching the yeast" part.
We don't really have any apples around here. ... You have to be 50 miles or less away from an apple (crop) to have it be economically feasible. So we are contracting with some juice companies in the Pacific Northwest. Pretty much everyone in the cider industry uses these companies. It's the other dirty secret of cider makers in the U.S.
Once we get the juice, we bring it up to about 60 or 70 degrees, wait about seven to 10 days for the yeast to do its thing during the primary fermentation stage, and then we rack it into kegs where we do the secondary fermentation, which is the natural carbonation stage. That takes two to three weeks.
All of our ciders are dry or semi-sweet naturally. So things like a Champagne yeast will filter out all of your sugars with not a lot of sweetness at all — it's just dry, crisp and clean.
We're making a hefeweizen (yeast) cider and we're calling it the Cavendish. It looks, feels and tastes like a trashy 1990s hefeweizen, but there's absolutely no wheat in it. It's just juice, yeast and time.
We're always going to have guest taps, too. We'll be carrying eight beers and we're going to try to split it between local and (national) stuff. We'll have a small wine program and we'll have two guest ciders. ... We really want to be at $6 for a 10-ounce cider.
What do you like to eat with a cider?
M: I like it with crawfish and a lot of spicy foods. The acidity holds up very well. It's a good replacement for wine in many ways, but the kind of wines you would drink in big gulps. We're going to have a range of hoppy ciders and those would be delicious with something like a burger.