Charlotte continues to welcome new breweries, with Wooden Robot Brewery and Free Range Brewing recently opening their doors. But this weekend, the city will see its first cidery open.
Red Clay Ciderworks will open 1:30-10 p.m. Saturday at 245 Clanton Road, smack dab between The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Triple C Brewing in South End.
For the last year or so, Jay and Deanna Bradish have been hard at work inside the building that once housed the Englishman’s Outlet Centre. Like Charlotte’s breweries, the front of the building will feature a taproom, and through glass visitors will see the stainless steel tanks in which apple juice is fermented and turned into cider.
And like many of the city’s breweries, the taproom is covered in rustic, warm lumber – much of it pulled from shipping pallets. In addition to the bar seating, there are a variety of tables: long, communal ones that invite conversation, smaller ones perched atop wooden barrels, and a couple of leather couches in a corner.
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Prefer something a little more active? The cidery acquired a custom-built shuffleboard table, and for the grand opening on July 18 there will be cornhole as well.
Behind the bar, Jamie Bradish (Jay’s sister) and Jonathon Repholz will pour a variety of ciders. On opening day, visitors can try Queen City Common, a semi-dry cider, or opt for the South End Sweet. Additional ciders will be added in the weeks following. Jay Bradish plans to scale up some of the award-winning ciders he has brewed at home for years, with ingredients like tart cherries, blackberries, thyme and even hops making an appearance in future offerings.
The city’s breweries have played a large part in educating the drinking public about beer, and Red Clay wants to do the same with cider.
“We’re hoping to educate people,” said Repholz. “People can come in here and we’re going to have our ciders, as well as guest taps from other cideries. We want you to drink our cider, but we also want you to drink all cider.”
Many ciders found on grocery store shelves tend to land on the sweeter side, but Red Clay will produce ciders ranging from bone dry to sweet. The alcohol percentage, too, will vary, though most will fall between 5 and 8 percent ABV.
The cider industry is growing rapidly, with small operations popping up all over the nation and larger brands like Angry Orchard (produced by Boston Beer Co.) experiencing record growth. Despite North Carolina’s reputation as an apple producer, the state boasts only around 10 operating cideries.
That will change soon, however, as several are being planned across the state. In their attempt to be a rising tide that raises all ships, Red Clay will add a cooler in the coming weeks that will stock bottles from other cideries as well.
“We want to have the biggest variety of cider we can offer, outside of our own,” said Repholz.
Daniel Hartis is the digital manager at All About Beer Magazine in Durham and author of “Beer Lover’s The Carolinas” and “Charlotte Beer: A History of Brewing in the Queen City.” Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter, @DanielHartis.
Event of the Week
Red Clay Ciderworks Grand Opening
WHEN: 1:30-10 p.m. Saturday.
WHERE: Red Clay Ciderworks, 245 Clanton Road.
In the last few weeks, Red Clay Ciderworks has been selling advance drink tickets online. But if you haven’t yet purchased yours, don’t worry; these will be available at the door as well. Drink tickets are $5 each, and admission into the event is free. The grand opening will feature giveaways, live music, shuffleboard/curling, cornhole and several food trucks parked outside.