March 8th, 2011
The First Sip: Leprechaun Cider Co.
Usually I focus on beer-centric articles, but for this edition of The First Sip I thought something a little different might be a nice change of pace. When you think of drinking in the UK or Ireland, what beverage naturally comes to mind? Bitters, English ales, stouts, Irish red ales? All undeniably true, but one of the often overlooked treasures of the drinking scene across the pond is the crisp, refreshing apple cider.
For the uninitiated, hard apple cider can come with the unnecessary stigma of being a “woman’s drink”. Whereas I’m certain that apple cider is well liked amongst the female gender, I know of many men (myself included) who would gladly bypass a pint of beer for a pint of cider. It’s one of those drinks you come to love, no matter who you are or what your tastes. In fact, cider is the fastest growing alcoholic beverage in the U.S.
Finding a nice quality American made hard cider isn’t as difficult if you live in the Pacific northwest or in the northern east coast, but, unfortunately for us here in Houston, the cider scene is fairly bare. Oh sure, you can always find some nice imported ciders from the UK at your local liquor store and occasionally you can find a tap of Woodchuck at your favorite watering hole… but it’s just not the same.
Native Houstonian, Jake Schiffer thought so too. He traveled extensively through the UK and Ireland during college, drinking all the cider he could get his hands on. Upon returning to the states, he found himself disappointed with the American offerings (both in quantity and quality) and decided to do something about it. Thus began the life of Leprechaun Cider Co.
Jake has set out to bring all the best qualities of UK ciders and meld them with Texas tastes to make the perfect cider:
“Like any hand-made artisan product, you have to start with the right ingredients. So I sourced the right apples from the Pacific Northwest, and got with a young cider maker up there and developed our unique recipe. I felt like I understood Texas tastes – we have bold, flavorful foods down here, and I wanted Leprechaun to have just the right body to complement Mexican food, barbeque and seafood. So we went with a bold apple flavor, not too sweet, not too dry.”
Leprechaun’s first release is their Golden Cider. Their first tapping was but a few weeks ago at the Red Lion Pub. The Golden Cider can still be found on tap there as well as Stag’s Head Pub, Glass Wall, Taps House of Beer and Benjy’s on Washington. Currently they are a draft only product, but they are working to try and get Leprechaun into bottles and on the shelves as soon as possible. Future plans also include other types of cider as well as seasonal releases and a perry version (pear cider).
As a hard cider fan, I have to say that I am really stoked about this company and love that its roots are right here in Houston! Given the growth of the industry, any Joe Schmoe could come out and try to peddle some alcoholic apple juice that tastes like a sweet wine cooler, but as craft beer geeks, we know that’s never a formula for success. I’m very excited to see Leprechaun Cider Co. taking the time to focus on creating the perfect cider and developing their product to the taste of Texans. Whenever someone puts that much thought and effort into the product, you can be sure it will be something you’ll love!
If you are out and see the tap handle, be sure to grab a pint of Leprechaun Golden Cider. It’s sure to be the pot-o-gold you’re searching for! (Pun intended.)
Be sure to check out their website – http://www.leprechauncider.com/ – and “Like” them on Facebook. According to Jake, Leprechaun Cider will have something going on for Saint Patrick’s Day celebrations, so be sure to check in with The Loop Scoop for the latest on that.
Always support your local brewers, be it beer or cider.
Stay crafty, my friends!