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On this episode, host Zach Geballe speaks with Caitlin Braam, the founding father of Yonder Cider. Braam begins by explaining that she grew up homebrewing beer together with her father, and ultimately gained an curiosity in cider after transferring from Minnesota to Washington. There, she labored with native cideries to be taught in regards to the several types of apples utilized in cider and find out how to make a product that defied the same old expectations for cider.

Whereas many shoppers could draw back from cider due to its supposed sweetness, Braam explains that her cider is tannic, dry, fragrant, and full of lovely, balanced acid. She discusses the difficulties of competing with craft beer, however factors out that, on the finish of the day, cider is technically wine.

Armed with a earlier profession in PR and advertising, Braam launched her model final yr alongside one other firm, The Source. Right here, she discusses how the pandemic compelled her staff to reevaluate its campaigns, and why she’s grateful for the issues she discovered alongside the way in which.

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Zach: From Seattle, Washington, I’m Zach Geballe and this can be a “VinePair Podcast” “Next Spherical” dialog. We’re bringing you these conversations in between our common podcast episodes with the intention to concentrate on a spread of points and tales within the drinks world. And immediately, I’m talking with Caitlin Braam. She’s the founding father of Yonder Cider right here within the state of Washington. Caitlin, thanks a lot for your time.

Caitlin: Thanks for having me immediately.

Z: Yeah, my pleasure. So let’s begin out with perhaps a bit bit about you and about Yonder. So how lengthy have you ever been within the cider business, and the way did you come to it?

C: So I’ve been in beverage for about 10 years now and cider for a bit over six years. I obtained into craft drinks as a result of I used to truly homebrew with my dad as a child, and I’m from Minnesota. And so after I moved to Seattle, I used to be simply blown away. And it was a nanobrewery season then and simply actually obtained into the craft beer scene.

Z: Cool, after which form of what made you transition, or I imply, not that you simply don’t have curiosity in beer, I’m positive you do in some sense. However, beer and brewing is clearly an enormous business. Cider is, even in a state like Washington with tons and many apples, nonetheless a comparatively small business. Sort of what drew you to cider?

C: Yeah, so I used to be doing a ton of freelancing for totally different breweries round city. After which I really began working with a brewery the place the founder really couldn’t drink beer anymore as a result of it wasn’t agreeing along with his system. So he began wanting into beginning a cidery and that was Seattle Cider Firm. And so I didn’t know a lot about cider on the time, however we simply threw ourselves into it and began studying increasingly more and seeing what was on the market. And I used to be simply enthralled by how rather more data there was and the way a lot schooling there was to present, as a result of not lots of people knew rather a lot about cider. And so it was more durable for us to search out the data. And we needed to do a variety of “the consuming analysis” on our personal — I do know, form of a tough a part of the job. However I simply actually fell in love with it. There are such a lot of breweries, such as you talked about, and there weren’t a variety of cideries on the time. And I simply beloved cider. It was what I most popular to drink at that second. And I simply threw myself into it and requested each query I may ever consider.

Z: Gotcha. And so I’m curious, I wish to discuss what’s occurring within the right here and now and sooner or later. However I do wish to look again a tiny bit past simply your personal trajectory and speak a bit bit in regards to the positioning, as a result of I feel Seattle Cider Company, which in Seattle on this a part of the nation is a reasonably large deal. One of many bigger producers of cider domestically. The query I’m asking is: You got here to cider, and I feel lots of people got here to cider from beer, proper? It was a substitute for beer within the sense of it being for individuals who perhaps wished one thing that was gluten-free or one thing that agreed with their system greater than beer did. However cider, and we will speak extra about this in a minute, is form of this attention-grabbing beverage the place, relying on perhaps the way you make it and your strategy to it and philosophy, even is perhaps extra like wine than like cider. And so I’m questioning, did you see that both your relationship — or extra broadly, both the manufacturing or simply shopper facet of it — has the connection to cider modified in your time within the business?

C: It has, yeah. I’ve discovered a lot extra and I’ve tasted a lot extra. And so after I first obtained into cider, I used to be very into trendy cider. So I used to be consuming merchandise that have been primarily culinary apples and perhaps had fruit in them or one thing alongside these traces. And that’s what I knew. However then I began touring extra and exploring extra and beginning in Washington, consuming issues like Snowdrift and Dragon’s Head after which touring throughout the nation after which touring internationally to England and Spain and attempting cider from there. And so my data base of cider and my palate has modified a lot through the years. But in addition from a enterprise standpoint, understanding what folks can afford and what’s going to get folks into the class, it’s been actually attention-grabbing to look at and see how my perceptions have modified. And that’s form of why Yonder was born. I like a phenomenal cider that’s made solely with cider fruit and is tannic and dry and has a phenomenal acid steadiness and a variety of aroma. However these cider apples are actually costly and that makes the cider when it will get to the patron actually costly, too. And so after we’re attempting to tug extra folks into the cider class, if the one factor they’ll discover is a phenomenal bottle, a 750 of cider, however it’s $20, that’s not essentially going to get them into the class. On the identical time, there’s a variety of stunning culinary-only ciders on the market. However what you typically miss is among the aroma and the complexity that may include these “cider” apple ciders. And so what we’ve achieved at Yonder, and the rationale I began Yonder, was to discover a steadiness between the 2, have a product that was nonetheless fragrant and had stunning complexity to it and had a variety of these traits I beloved, however was nonetheless in a format and at a worth level that made it approachable and consumable on a reasonably common foundation.

Z: In order that makes whole sense to me as being form of the genesis of the thought behind the model. It’s one factor to say, “Hey, I’ve this concept. I wish to make a cider that’s someplace between these,” as you mentioned, actually stunning however comparatively costly cider-apple primarily based ciders, and one thing that’s perhaps extra on a regular basis priced but in addition culinary-apple-based and perhaps rather less complicated. You will have the thought, however then how do you go from that to a product in a can? I imply, you don’t should take me by each step. However form of what have been the main hurdles or milestones alongside the way in which?

C: One of many advantages of my profession is that I began in PR and advertising. That’s my data base. And I grew up in craft beer and cider by asking one million and one questions and speaking with one million and one folks. And so what Yonder has been is the mix of these two components. I choose cider now, and I style cider, and I do know cider apples, and people are all issues six years in the past I knew nothing about. And so what Yonder is, is me taking that advertising and PR mind of mine and mixing it with these years of speaking with consultants and consuming a variety of nice cider and studying extra about cider as a beverage. And so after we began Yonder, I wished the surface to be as stunning as the within. We wished folks to see yonder and seize it for the way in which it appeared and it felt and the can. They usually simply spoke to the model. However then they opened it up and so they drank it and it was simply as stunning and it made them buy it once more. And so I feel a variety of occasions, you may get one or the opposite, and you’ve got folks which are perhaps extra expert in a single facet or the opposite. It’s the good thing about my staff. My different two co-founders are our inventive director, Maddy Porter, and my head cider maker Tim Larsen. And I’ve identified them each for about 10 years as effectively. They usually’re each consultants and implausible at what they do. And so by constructing Yonder on these two pillars, we have been in a position to bridge either side of the business and either side of that coin.

Z: And so let’s speak a bit bit about that design aesthetic, as a result of I feel really that’s a extremely attention-grabbing level and one thing that, I imply, you’ll be able to communicate as freely otherwise you may be as diplomatic as you need. However I feel a factor that has been attention-grabbing with the cider business, specifically, is craft beer has a wealth of actually inventive, attention-grabbing, typically additionally very poorly executed can artwork. However can artwork is an enormous a part of craft beer in a variety of methods. And cider to me has form of, I imply, you see rather more of it than I do, however it’s undoubtedly not seized upon that strategy to standing out on a shelf, giving somebody one thing to seize on to moreover simply the merchandise within the can. So, once you have been establishing the aesthetic and the design for Yonder, what have been you fascinated by? And does my tough generalization in regards to the cider business appear to be it’s true?

C: It does. And I feel what occurs is you’ll be able to’t be good at all the pieces. Proper? And so you’ve orchardists who’re rising fruit and making stunning cider, however then it involves the advertising, and perhaps that’s an afterthought, as a result of they’ve already made this stunning cider. Why would folks not get pleasure from it? And so it may be an enormous problem and there’s a purpose that Yonder, once you have a look at it, doesn’t scream “cider.” It’s additionally as a result of folks have a preconceived notion a variety of occasions of what cider is or what it tastes wish to them, proper? Lots of people suppose it’s going to be candy. And in the event that they see cider, they only don’t even take the time to choose it up. And so after we designed Yonder, you’ll be able to have a look at it and you might inform it’s cider in the event you look shut. However we wished craft beer drinkers, wine drinkers, exhausting kombucha, seltzer drinkers to cease and check out the model in its personal proper and choose it up after which be like, “Oh, that is cider,” and provides it a strive. And I feel by doing that, we’re in a position to overcome a few of these preconceived notions that folks have about cider and at the least have them give it a shot. In the event that they don’t prefer it after that. Nice, that’s nice. They’ve obtained numerous different drinks to select from, however cider has this primary hurdle a variety of occasions of what folks have already got of their thoughts from what they’ve had earlier than. And so after we constructed Yonder, we wished to construct a model that folks may stand behind A) even when they hadn’t tried the cider but. Like I’m an enormous merch individual so we have been promoting sweatshirts and hats and all the pieces about our model earlier than we even had the cider on the market. However we wished folks to only recover from these fears of cider. And I feel a branding alternative is huge and it’s what we form of took an opportunity on. And I feel what we’ve succeeded with and had a variety of enjoyable with, actually.

Z: Do you suppose then that the 750-millimeter bottle is — that is form of perhaps a tough query to reply — however it appears to me like, except you make a really particular form of cider, it’s perhaps a mistake for folks to go. As a result of the 750 is, not solely is it a variety of liquid and that all the time generally is a drawback for somebody, particularly in the event that they’re not sharing doubtlessly given simply their circumstances. But in addition, yeah, it has a sure set of luggage, I suppose, in our tradition. Is that one thing — did you by no means for a second take into consideration large-format bottles or have been you all the time like, we’re getting into can?

C: I’m positive we’ll do a 750 sooner or later. I undoubtedly suppose we’ll. And I feel one of many challenges with 750s is what we’ve talked about already is that worth level. However give it some thought this fashion: Should you purchase a bottle of wine and that’s 750 milliliters and typically it’s 12, 14, 15 %, Cider is definitely lower than that. You’re normally getting 7 to 9 % in there. And so it’s only a method folks take into consideration cider a variety of occasions. Cider doesn’t fall in any class effectively. We’re technically wine, lots of people drink us in pint glasses like beer, and it simply form of will get muddled. And so it’s all of those hurdles that cider has to recover from. I additionally suppose, after we’re taking a look at it, there’s a place for the 750s, there’s a spot for the cans, there’s a spot for all the pieces in between. As a result of the cans are what get folks into the class, proper? And a variety of occasions that’s true, or draft. However once you begin moving into cider and also you begin loving the cider, you’re gonna begin looking for extra stuff out. I imply, beer drinkers are the identical method, proper? When you’ve had the can of one thing from some native little native brewery and so they come out with a launch of one thing loopy and barrel aged in an enormous bottle, you’re going to purchase it, since you imagine in that model and also you belief it. And so I feel there’s a variety of alternative. Some legal guidelines have handed just lately to permit cideries to place ciders over — I feel it’s over 7 % ABV — in 12-ounce cans now. Which goes to make a few of these huge, stunning, cider-apple-only ciders out there in smaller codecs. And hopefully, then, folks will begin to department out extra. So I do suppose 750s have their place. I additionally suppose advertising goes a extremely good distance. And it’s why after I speak to of us inside cideries, I inform them, don’t rent your brother’s buddy to do your designs. Please, please just be sure you are investing in your organization, each from a cider standpoint and a advertising branding standpoint. We just released a special cider in cans referred to as Stokes, and it’s Stoke Crimson apple with 70 %, after which 30 % red-fleshed apples. And people are apples that most individuals don’t know. However folks have been pumped about it and it’s dearer, however no person blinks an eye fixed. And so it had a terrific label. We really designed the character on the label after our manufacturing supervisor, who has fairly the “snowboarding look” to him. So we mimicked him on the can, however it simply confirmed how far America can go, simply transferring product and transferring cider — it doesn’t matter what format.

Z: So I wish to speak a bit bit extra about the place the present state of the cider business is. So I’m going to say this, and you’ll inform me if I’m utterly mistaken. It’s completely advantageous. However my sense is that, in regards to the time you have been moving into cider was actually form of when cider was choosing up steam, you already know, 10, 15, 20 years in the past. My sense is that there was nearly no home — I imply, there was this home cider business however it was very small. And the thought of cider being a significant, or at the least noteworthy class in beverage alcohol, was, yeah, some folks drank European ciders, however that was about it. And that has modified for a variety of causes. But it surely’s additionally my sense now, and that is the half that I undoubtedly would love your suggestions on, that the notion from the surface — and simply my notion — is that issues have plateaued, perhaps? Or the expansion isn’t fairly as explosive because it was. And I imply, that’s the pure factor for nearly any new product. I’m positive that ultimately we’ll attain that time with exhausting seltzer, too — it gained’t develop perpetually. However the place is your feeling? I imply, clearly you suppose there’s progress for your model since you began one. However I assume what I’m wondering is A) does that ring true? Or B) if it doesn’t, the place do you see continued alternatives to develop both for Yonder, or for cider extra typically?

C: I feel it rings true, to a level. And I feel why it’s is as a result of form of what we talked about earlier than of cider having a bit little bit of an id disaster and the place it suits. So that you go to a grocery retailer and also you have a look at the cabinets, and craft beer’s obtained its part. However you then’ve obtained this part and rapidly you had cider blended in with kombucha blended in with glowing exhausting seltzers and so they all form of mish-mash collectively. And in order glowing seltzers grew to become extra widespread, the area on the shelf for cider grew to become smaller and also you began to see much less and fewer. They usually don’t actually shrink the craft beer part, as a result of there are such a lot of suppliers and so many brewers. I feel that has confirmed to be a bit little bit of a problem for cider as a result of it’s not as overly accessible, and you’ll’t discover it as simply, to be trustworthy. I do imagine that it nonetheless has an opportunity. I wouldn’t have began Yonder if I didn’t suppose so. However I feel the place it has the largest impression proper now’s what we’re seeing on a neighborhood neighborhood-tasting-room stage. I feel that clearly has gotten hit exhausting due to Covid and everybody having to close down and discover new methods to promote and to maintain alive and open. However my hope is that when all the pieces opens again up, it’s that chance of simply getting folks to style cider for the primary time and show to them that it isn’t candy. There are such a lot of totally different forms of it, identical to there may be beer. And we’ve got a to-go-only tasting room right here in Seattle that we name Yonder Bar, and it serves largely our neighborhood, and we do 4-packs and growlers to go. And this isn’t an exaggeration. Greater than 50 % of the folks that come as much as purchase cider from the Yonder Bar have both advised us they don’t like cider, they haven’t had cider earlier than, however they’re excited to see one thing new and totally different. And so I feel that’s the place the chance lies, is continuous to push the steadiness, persevering with to extend the standard, and supply the alternatives to strive cider. As a result of as soon as we get them over that hump, they’re there and we will present them what cider can do.

Z: Gotcha. Very cool. I’ve one final query that you simply hit on a bit bit, however I wish to get a bit bit extra sense of it, which is beginning a brand new model, beginning a brand new enterprise is all the time difficult, all the time dangerous, all the time has numerous peril to it. However Yonder launched primarily throughout a pandemic. How did that scramble your plans, what have you ever needed to adapt, and what have you ever been in a position to preserve the identical out of your preliminary idea?

C: Nothing. Nothing, besides the cans — the cans are stunning, they have been all the time going to be stunning, that’s the identical. However anyone that is aware of me, is aware of I’m an enormous planner and I’ve been fascinated by Yonder for two years. And so there was going to be an enormous 500-person get together and the media dinner within the orchard and we have been launching on my birthday. It was a complete factor. None of that occurred. None of it. The tasting room, nothing. And so it has taught me a really critical lesson of letting go, and never that it’ll work itself out, however that you’ll all the time discover a totally different method. And that’s what we’ve achieved. And Yonder is rising, and I really feel very, very lucky for it. And I do know that’s not the case for everybody. And we really feel very fortunate and we’ve labored exhausting for it and we’ve modified all the pieces we had deliberate on. However on the identical time, I hope that it solely will get simpler from right here, as a result of it will possibly’t get more durable. Take each timeline that I had deliberate — whether or not it’s cans or manufacturing or transferring the power or getting out with the distributor. Every thing took twice to a few occasions as lengthy, and it was twice as costly. And in order that hasn’t been simple. However Yonder Bar, it’s in my storage. I’ve a tasting room in my storage. That was not the plan. And I can let you know my husband shouldn’t be completely satisfied about it. But it surely simply has grow to be a neighborhood factor, and other people come to it day-after-day of the week. And I labored Christmas Eve and obtained to speak to all my neighbors and see how excited they have been. They usually have been bringing their household to strive Yonder. And we wouldn’t have that. I don’t want Covid and the pandemic to ever occur. I want it hadn’t. However we’ve shifted and adjusted throughout it, and a few actually good issues have come, and our model might be stronger for it’s I assume what I’m attempting to say.

Z: Gotcha.

C: I wouldn’t advocate it. I really opened two companies throughout it. I’ve obtained one other one referred to as The Source, however once more, it will possibly solely get simpler from right here. So we really feel lucky, and we’re simply fortunate that folks have taken to our model and do actually love our cider and are excited to proceed sharing it.

Z: Completely. Nicely, Caitlin, thanks a lot for your time. Thanks for speaking about an thrilling and scary yr, frankly. I stay up for seeing what you and your staff at Yonder have within the works down the highway.

C: Thanks. I actually admire it.

Thanks a lot for listening to the VinePair podcast. Should you love this present as a lot as we love making it, please give us a ranking or assessment on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or wherever it’s you get your podcasts. It actually helps everybody else uncover the present. Now for the credit. VinePair is produced and recorded in New York Metropolis and Seattle, Washington, on my own and Zach Geballe, who does all of the enhancing and likes to get the credit score.

Additionally, I’d love to present a particular shout out to my VinePair co-founder, Josh Malin, for serving to make all this attainable and likewise to maintain Keith Beavers, VinePair’s tastings director, who’s moreover a producer on the present. I additionally wish to, in fact, thank each different member of the VinePair staff who’re instrumental in all the concepts that go into making the present each week. Thanks a lot for listening and we’ll see you once more.

Ed. notice: This episode has been edited for size and readability

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