Not just an alternative to beer, ciders assert their independence at Spokane's One Tree Hard Cider

click to enlarge ONE TREE HARD CIDER PHOTO
One Tree Hard Cider photo

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t One Tree Hard Cider, there's a cider blend for every season.

"We're definitely all about the flavor," says Grant Barnes, who co-owns the Spokane-based cidery with his friend Neal Hennessy.

"Most ciders are lightly flavored and drier, but ours tend to be sweeter and more flavorful because we put as much real fruit as we can into every batch," he says.

One Tree Hard Cider started with a cider-making kit gifted to Barnes for his first Father's Day in 2013. "I'd meant to try brewing beer, but it ended up spawning this hobby, and I've always had an entrepreneurial spirit," he says.

By 2014, Barnes and Hennessy had opened the company's first production facility in Spokane Valley. And in 2017 the two opened One Tree Cider House in downtown Spokane at 111 S. Madison St.

"The cider house is kind of our claim to fame," says Barnes. "We offer 20 taps of just cider — no beer except in cans." In addition to their own products, the selections are sourced from other independently owned cideries throughout the Northwest. "Our purpose in having smaller brands on tap is to give our customers exposure to new tastes and experiences," he says. "But we also believe in the idea that 'All tides rise,' so when we support others in the industry we all benefit."

One Tree's cider lineup includes a set of core blends — lemon basil, caramel cinnamon, huckleberry and staycation (pineapple mango) — as well as seasonal offerings such as cranberry, pumpkin, heartbreaker (raspberry with "a kick of jalapeno) and the festive snowglobe, a glitter-infused cider with an apple-pie-esque flavor. A recent seasonal addition is the Plum Szechuan, crafted with apples, plums and Szechuan peppercorns.

In its formative years, Barnes says One Tree would buy apples from food co-ops and press them for use in cider making. "Once we reached a certain size, it was more practical to use a juicing company to buy and press apples for us," he says. "But we still make sure all of our apples are sourced here in Washington state." The ciders are available in Washington, Idaho, Montana and Alaska.

The full flavors of One Tree's ciders offer lots of options. As a stand-alone beverage, they are perfect for happy hour or pair well with many entrees. But they can also be used in the kitchen. "Our lemon basil can be made into marinade for fish or chicken, and our huckleberry has a tannin that works well in stew or glazes," Barnes says.

One Tree's ciders have also become an innovative element in the crafting of mixed drinks. The ciders pair so well with other types of alcohol that the company has expanded into a whole new market, partnering with local liquor maker Dry Fly Distilling to create mixed drinks sold in cans.

"We've had a relationship with Dry Fly's owners for a while, as they helped us get our start early on," Barnes says. "Our companies also share similar interests in the charities and causes we support, so it was natural to partner with them on a product that combines our cider and their liquor." Two new flavor varieties are set to debut in 2021.

In addition to its canned-drink partnership, Barnes says One Tree has also been supporting Dry Fly by using its hand sanitizer and other cleaning products during the pandemic.

"It's been relatively easy to add safety precautions to our production facility and keep up on that side, but maintaining the atmosphere of the cider house has been harder," he says. "But we do what we can to keep things safe while still being friendly and fun."

Looking ahead, One Tree is working to move into a new and expanded warehouse and production space at 125 E. Ermina Ave. by early 2021.

"We'd hoped to move in sooner, but business has been going so well we're having difficulty shutting production down long enough to make the switch," he says.

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