Cider Corner: Keys Schilling Shared for Making Lemonade Cider

Schilling Cider is no stranger to the fruited cider category, having explored fruit profiles beyond traditional apple and pear offerings for more than a decade.

Their latest release is their Big Zesty Tangy Raspberry Lemonade Cider, and owner Collin Schilling said that while fresh pressed apple juice is the start of all of the company’s ciders, there are some tricks they employ to get flavors to shine through in special varieties such as Lemonade Ciders.

“One of the tricks we implement for the lemonades is using a specific yeast strain that can tolerate a higher fermentation temperature than other strains,” Schilling said. “This allows us to intentionally remove a decent portion of the apple aroma while still having a fresh-pressed juice base that retains a really fruity flavor, unlike a lot of lemonade brands using a sugar wash or malt base which we find a lot less compelling for a fruit-forward product.

“We then add real lemon juice and Pacific Northwest-sourced raspberry juice, making those ingredients really pop vs. being muddled by too much apple aroma.”

Schilling said tunnel pasteurization was another critical step in the process. 

“Our cans of hard lemonade, of course, have some residual sugar, but unlike mass-market brands, we don’t use any preservatives,” Schilling said. “Right after the cans are filled, they go through our tunnel pasteurizer, so they are shelf stable and get an accelerated aging that we feel makes them perfect to drink immediately, or six months later. Our process results in delicious hard lemonades that are nearly 100% fruit juice with only a few ingredients.” 

The lemonade line began with the Big Zesty Guava seasonal six pack before the Big Zesty Raspberry 19.2 was added this summer.

Right now, they plan to keep it in their line of ciders rather than flex it into its own product line, although Schilling said he believed it had crossover appeal and would follow the same roll-out strategy that all of the company’s new beverages have.

“At its core, this lemonade is still a cider and will remain in the Schilling family with our Legendary and Excelsior ciders,” Schilling explained. “That being said, we do think this will attract some consumers from the Flavored Malt Beverage category looking to trade up for a better-quality offering with a more real and authentic flavor profile. In terms of rollouts — as a craft producer without national brand resources, we will also slow roll new things and make sure they are well received before we bet too big on them. 

“We successfully followed this path in the Imperial Cider category with Excelsior Imperial Apple back in 2018 as the first imperial cider in a 6 pack that was multi-state legal — canned in standard of fill sized cans— and now Imperial Ciders are driving growth for the whole cider category.”

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.