Cider Corner: Key Strategies ​Yonder Has Stuck to From the Start

Starting in a small garage at the start of the pandemic, Yonder Cider is a fast-growing cider brand in Seattle that founder Caitlin Braam says made the brand what it is today.

In just two years, Yonder has expanded statewide, growing by more than 240% in the past year, with an anticipated 200,000 gallons to be produced this year.

Braam shared with Brewer’s Cider Corner on the celebration of two years as Yonder Cider and what two key strategies have been important to the brand’s growth.

A priority, she noted, was ensuring that they put the same amount of care and attention into the branding and marketing of Yonder Cider as they do to the cider itself.

“Cider tends to have a lot of preconceived notions around it and we wanted to remove as many of those as possible,” she said. “Our packaging doesn’t scream cider, but it does grab your eye.

“If we can get consumers to fall in love with our brand and give our cider a try, we’re one step closer to changing some of those thoughts and showcasing how amazing cider can be.”

Thinking outside the box and rolling with the changes is a cornerstone of Yonder as well, she added.

Starting in a small neighborhood garage as a to-go bar, Braam worked with Seattle’s City Council to pass the “Bringing Business Home” bill, loosening home business regulations and allowing small businesses entrepreneurs like Yonder to get started in their garage. Later that year, she worked with Bale Breaker Brewing Company to navigate and take advantage of a new bill allowing distilleries to share their taprooms with cideries/wineries and breweries. After opening a small distillery, Yonder Cider and Bale Breaker were the first to be able to take advantage of the bill. Their joint BBYC taproom, located in Ballard’s popular Brewing District, opened in September 2021 and has quickly become a hot spot to grab a beverage and gather friends, offering expansive indoor/outdoor seating, retail space, a vintage photo booth, cider slushies, and 32 taps of beer and cider.

​”​We are constantly adapting and rethinking how we’re approaching a situation or opportunity, whether that be a new cider, reworking a current one, an unusual taproom concept, or how we present our brand on social media,” she said. “We launched in August 2020 and I don’t consider one thing we’ve done ’normal’ — from garage bars to cocktail-inspired ciders and beyond.”

​Braam said they still stand by those key drivers and strategies as they are specifically designed to allow for change and flexibility.

​”​We adapt as we need to, no matter what the world throws at us​,” she said. “Launching in a pandemic, this wasn’t really a choice, but our team embraced it and it became what Yonder is now known for.

​”​We come up with an idea and find a way to make it work. Sometimes that means passing a new bill with the City Council or finding a fun loophole that allows you to open a joint taproom with a brewery. We continue to challenge the norm and people notice.​”​

​Of course, all business operations find pits to climb out of. The same for Yonder and naming a cider ​Semi Sweet was a learning experience.

“While the cider isn’t sweet and it’s actually a popular style of cider, just seeing the word sweet on a can made consumers wary of trying it,” she said. “It didn’t even cross my mind when we launched that it would be an issue. What’s sad is it’s my favorite cider.”

That same cider is now called Vantage and is a touch less sweet, making it semi-dry, and Braam said they are slowly seeing a shift in its sales.

“And yes, it’s still my favorite,” she said.

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