Cider Corner: No Taproom? Lift-off After Launch is Still Possible

Traditional avenues for debuting your cider often  include bars and restaurants, but they’re not the only show in town. 

Yonder Cider in Seattle started in a neighborhood garage during the pandemic and launched with a strong to-go business bolstered by its early efforts to work with Seattle’s city officials.

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 and has grown exponentially.

Starting in a small neighborhood garage as a to-go bar, founder Caitlyn 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.

Yonder Cider celebrated two years in 2022, managing to survive despite getting its start during the COVID-19 pandemic.

​”​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 told Brewer. “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.​”​

Typically, for a cidery’s launch, the biggest target for product sales is bars and restaurants initially. A cidery that wants to get the word out will be draft heavy and look for lines outside of its own taproom to help create a buzz in its area, which can help lead to a product launch in retail down the line.

In the Buffalo, New York area, Clarksburg Cider also got its start during the pandemic. The cidery had plans to do the textbook launch, but by the time Robb and the Clarksburg team got things going, the pandemic had reared up and halted the plan by 18 months.

With bars and restaurants out of the picture, they went with a chain launch — an uphill climb, if you ask many cideries.

The  additional time spent in building up the volume to accommodate retailers and working with the right distribution partner helped Clarksburg develop a lineup that would be attractive to new consumers. The cidery reaped the rewards by building  a strong local base that now can visit a fully laid-out taproom and restaurant space along with having a strong retail presence in Western New York.

Being a startup, CEO Michael Robb said they didn’t  have huge marketing dollars so instead, Clarksburg focuses very heavily on social and digital campaigns when they can, and picking and choosing what events they go to.

“Getting our name out there with people tasting our product, that’s the best thing that you can do is get it in their mouth,” he said. “Once you do that, it kind of sells itself. So just getting as much exposure to consumers as possible is key.”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *