New cidery, Fairweather, finds home in North Austin brewery hub
A new cidery opening the day after Thanksgiving, Fairweather Cider Co. is hoping it’s found the recipe to become your trusty go-to cider producer.
Fairweather, the vision of friends John Staples and Michael Gostomski White, will launch with just a single house cider on tap in the cozy tasting room built out of a warehouse space on Metric Boulevard, in an area of North Austin that has become a bona fide brewery hub.
Behind the tasting room is the small production facility where Staples and White, a two-man operation, ferment the apples they receive from a packing house in Oregon that supplies many of the Pacific Northwest’s cideries with the fruit they need. They rely on dessert apples — common grocery-store varieties, like golden delicious — to make the cider.
The decision to launch with a sole cider, the dry Common, was intentional, Staples said recently. But don’t worry: More Fairweather ciders, including the Tejano Dreams with Anaheim chili peppers, are on their way.
“We want to saturate spots in the city with our name first, proving that we can do the basic things well. This is our dry cider, our bread and butter where the whole concept is derived,” he said.
The Common is very dry. Let’s emphasize that, as the near total lack of sweetness is a crucial component of Fairweather’s philosophy. It’s intended to be the cider you turn to when it’s hot outside and you need some light liquid refreshment. It’s also palatable for beer drinkers, like me, who often find many American ciders to be just a tad too sweet for more than one glass.
With Fairweather, however, Staples and White want to make sure you can’t stop cracking open cans of the Common, which are coming soon to bars and stores in addition to kegs. The Common is intended to be your everyday, easy-drinking cider.
That’s what came across both recently and at the end of last year, when I first spoke with the cider duo and tasted their boozy wares. Common has a funky aroma, like the farmhouse-style ales that Staples and White are emulating, but the apple essence stands out in the flavor so clearly that you can’t mistake it for anything but cider. I could certainly drink more than one glass of the Common.
“So kind of catering to us having originally started as beer drinkers, we’re using ale yeast as opposed to wine yeast,” Staples said in December. “A lot of people are using wine yeast when they make cider, but we’ve found that with the ale yeast we’re using, we can make a really dry cider. It has five grams of sugar per liter, but the cider really shines. It’s still a very fruit-forward beverage.”
He and White — former Fed-Ex drivers and roommates — began devising plans to open a cidery after a 2013 visit to Argus Cidery, which has made a name for itself as a producer of balanced fermented beverages like cider, perry and even tepache (a sparkling pineapple wine). They also appreciate what Texas Keeper Cider, in far South Austin, is doing by highlighting long-forgotten heirloom apple varieties that many commercial growers don’t make anymore.
Staples and White, the main cider maker at Fairweather, aren’t opposed to using heirloom apples or even bittersweet apples, the ones specifically grown to make ciders like the kind that Europe has become well known for. (Austin Eastciders sources them.) At the end of the day, however, Fairweather’s goal is to offer an accessible cider made honestly and not quite like any of the other local options.
It was also designed to stand out. Fairweather’s philosophy is embodied by Common’s can design and in a large wall mural at the Metric Boulevard taproom, both very eye-catching. Illustrated by Paul Windle, the can and the mural feature brightly colored scenes of “this weird sort of utopia,” Staples said.
With the imagery, we wanted to “create a utopia or ‘fair weather’ world,” he said. “That is a sentiment that we are trying to communicate with the cider and what we want the name and image to be associated with. It's very positive and happy. It embraces this weird 1960s, '70s utopia of bizarre elements, like a horse with an eye patch on it, a hole in the ground with a ladder that just may lead to nowhere, things like that.”
The mural takes up one entire wall in the tasting room, which offers seating both at tables and at the bar. In addition to the Common, Fairweather will have a variety of ciders and wines on its dozen taps — including local products from the Austin Winery — once it opens on Nov. 24. Keep an eye out on social media for details about a grand opening in December.
You might also want to consider planning a brewery hop: Fairweather, at 10609 Metric Blvd., is next door to 4th tap Brewing Co-op, a couple of blocks from Celis Brewery and across the street from Oskar Blues Brewery. Austin Beerworks, Circle Brewing and Adelbert’s Brewery are also close drives from the cidery.
For more information, visit fairweathercider.com.