Confession: I am a cider fanatic. And a cider snob.
If you’re making cider, I want to know about it, and I’ll probably mentally judge your product somewhat harshly. (Sorry, not sorry.)
Cider-making is the next wave in the alcohol industry these days because of the fact that it’s fairly inexpensive to make and the process is simple and quick.
Even Joe Shmoe down the street can make it in his garage.
West Coast ciders, while not new, are definitely growing in number at a quickening pace, and while California ciders are just OK in my book, the Central Coast ciders that strive for a European dryness are what I avidly seek out.
I recently visited Carpinteria’s newest watering hole, The Apiary, to try out owners Nole Cosart and Rashna Hailey’s new ciders and discovered that their off-the-beaten-path mead and jun beverages are what steal the spotlight.
Cosart, former owner of Jun Brewery in Santa Barbara, met Hailey who had an extensive background in holistic cooking at a pop-up event, and the two joined forces to create The Apiary. It opened its doors in May.
With a low alcohol percentage of just 2 percent, jun is easily argued to be as healthy a beverage as kombucha and is equally as satisfying.
Mead, on the other hand, also known as honey wine, is a strange beast all its own, and Cosart and Hailey are delivering an intriguing, rotating menu of flavors that are worth driving to Carpinteria to check out, like their Hopacado and Hydromelon, fermented drinks with local avocado and watermelons.
Got a beer lover who would rather skip out on cider tasting? There’s something for them, too.
The Bitter Roots mead satisfies much like a toasty, malted beer flavor profile with a hint of coffee and smoke on the finish.
However, I would recommend requesting a tasting order if you’re to try the sampler as the varying flavors can easily compete and ruin your palate midway through your experience.
The California-style ciders on the menu were a nice introductory to the cinnamon, mulling spice, molasses and maple syrup flavors they’ll soon be serving up this winter, but I would keep my eye on the different mead flavors as those are the real showstoppers.
And with Cosart playing with pinot and bourbon barrels for some new brews to be released this spring, there’s sure to be some beverages worthy of taking home that even an old snob like me will likely deem praiseworthy.
— Tara Jones leads Eat This, Shoot That! and welcomes reader tips and ideas for future columns. She can be reached at [email protected]. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.