Cider Corner: Investments to Increase Your Brand’s Quality

Since Swilled Dog is in an extremely remote area — located near the Monongahela National Forest and about 150 miles west of Washington DC — owner Brooke Glover said the cidery had to hire staff that shares in the belief of quality, consistency, and detail.

“We can teach them the process,” she said, noting that many employees have been found through job postings and word of mouth.

“Our belief is that quality should be paramount in any consumer product and you should always strive to get better in all facets of the business, which includes QC/QA,” she said. “We want to continue to invest in this area as we grow.”

READ MORE: Cider Corner: Are Your Quality Practices ‘TMI’ for Consumers?

That means it takes a learning process to go from a new hire to a successful member of the quality team.

“There is a ton of apprentice time,” Glover said, adding that it involves lots of watching, asking questions, and reading.

Over time Glover said that the Swilled Dog team is investing in more formalized training. Glover — who is a board member for the American Cider Association — pointed out that the Cider Institute of North America has some amazing training that she said the Swilled Dog team plans to take advantage of once in-person classes can be safely resumed.

Those classes have five different levels of certification, starting with a Foundation level and working toward Cider Master with a variety of classes at each level.

Of course, you can get as technical or non-technical as you want with your cider. Both can net results as long as you are producing a quality product.

For Brian Dressler of Dressler Estate, he and his wife Olga have invested money by getting a Vinmetrica Free SO2 meter, and a decent pH meter.

“Free SO2 is essential in protecting your delicate cider from both oxidation and spoilage microorganisms. Free SO2 is also dependent on pH,” Dressler said.

He added that he believes cideries should skip what he said can be inaccurate test strips and pay the $500 for decent digital measurement tools.

“[It’s] guaranteed the best money you’ll ever spend in a cidery,” he said.

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