Cider House of Wisconsin produces both non-alcoholic cider and hard cider from its apple orchard in McFarland. It's the most local hard cider you can get in Madison -- if you can get it.
Owner Jim Lindemann tells me he has been selling his three varieties of hard cider at Star Liquor and Trixie's Liquor, and recently one of his varieties made it onto a tap at the Malt House. But Star and Trixie's are both out of stock right now, the cider has rotated off the tap at the Malt House, and Lindemann is "scrambling" to keep up with demand.
"Frank [Beer Distributor] has discovered that cider is really catching on," says Lindemann. "Dane County is ready for high quality cider. I don't see a lot of competition with what's already out there."
But year-round cider production is a challenge. "The big guys will use concentrate" to tide them over, says Lindemann. The problem is that apple juice keeps only about two weeks -- it has to be used. And apples themselves don't keep well without specialized storage conditions.
Nearly all the trees in the Lindemann orchard are antique cider cultivars, low in sugar, and intended for cider rather than eating.
Lindemann's cider, both alcoholic and non, is UV treated, not pasteurized, which creates a "significant taste difference," he says, as well as helping to retrain more nutrients. "The more flavor you start with, the more you end up with."
Cider House of Wisconsin makes "Pooch," a sweet cider, "Black Dragon," a dry cider, and "Star," which is a cyser, a type of mead. Nick Quint at Yahara Bay Distillers has also made an apple brandy for Lindemann. The certified organic non-alcoholic cider is available at a variety of local markets.
Right now, Lindemann is interested in feedback on the product, good and bad. "To hear 'wow' is flattering, but it's important to make changes. I'm looking for negative feedback, too."