Cider Corner: How Blake’s Farm Stand Series Squeezes Team’s Creative Juices

A farm stand is nothing new to Blake’s Hard Cider. The cidery was born out of a farm concept that had been in operation in Michigan for 75 years, so bringing a nod to that was easy this year with the new lemonade-base flavored ciders, including Strawberry and Blueberry Lemonades (6.5% ABV) which are sold in 12-ounce 6-pack cans.

In addition, the Blueberry Lemonade will also be available in a single-serve 16-ounce can. The company plans to introduce additional hard ciders to the Farm Stand Series this year.

​”We already thought a cider-based lemonade had enough complexity to it,” explained Blake’s Operations Director, Matt Wiles.

The cidery uses 100% fresh-pressed apples, so Wiles said a touch of strawberry or blueberry was all it needed.

“We didn’t want to overcomplicate something so new to our fan base,” he said. “These initial profiles are a great place to start, and more adventurous/eccentric flavors can follow.”

The creative flow is important to help in creating new brands for the company. Wiles said they look to empower all employees to join the creative process no matter the position they hold.

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They have two employees dedicated to product development that help the team bring their ideas to life through a tried-and-true formulation system.

“When we approach a new product, we first consider the base,” Wiles said. “We immediately must decide how to marry the final flavor profile to the base which has its own complex flavor profile.”

With the example of the lemonades, Blake’s looks at the process of making regular non-alcoholic lemonade and then applying that to the base.

When that initial step is complete, they establish a baseline from which they add or remove puree, concentrates, and natural flavors to achieve the goal of a harmonious flavor profile that represents the concept and quality that the team set out to create.

Large-scale production allows Blake’s the purchasing power to make even the most expensive ingredients feasible for products. Wiles said they utilize purees, fruit concentrates, and all-natural extracts in products.

“When building flavor profiles each of these will lend an important piece of the puzzle,” he said.

Knowing that they would be retiring the Rosé cider this year — which is infused with strawberries — Blake’s knew the Strawberry Lemonade was an option to go forward to continue using those flavors.

“We grow strawberries at Blake Farms and it’s a pretty big deal in June, people drive hours to come pick them, so our customers enjoy seeing us use them in our beverage offerings,” Wiles said, but added that since Blake’s already has a strong lineup of ciders, this new Farm Stand series needed to be seen as an extension of the brand, not a replacement.

“We wanted to gain space on the shelves with our Lemonade Ciders, not offer an option to be swapped with our other offerings,” Wiles said. “The Farm Stand Series is a place for fruit-forward flavors to excel.”

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