Brothers Jason and Patrick Spears grew up in Fort Worth. After a successful launch of their Locust Cider in Washington state three years ago, they are about to open Fort Worth’s first cidery in the up and coming South Main Village.
The Fort Worth location will be the first cidery and taproom in the area. Four shiny, new 1000-gallon fermenters are in place and ready to report for duty. It will open its doors next Wednesday, Oct. 24. UPDATED: On Oct. 24, the cidery posted on Facebook that the opening has been delated because of a final inspection. It is still expected to open before the end of October.
If you haven’t sampled hard cider in a while, you might be surprised by the variety and the fact they are not all syrupy sweet or overly fruity. Take for instance, the New England Amber, which Locust Cider recently debuted. It is a tasty 7.1 percenter with all the notes you would expect from a New England style lager beer. It sweetened with brown sugar and dates, but it’s not too sweet and with no fruit-forward flavors at all. Other ciders are explicitly dry – so there is really something to entice every taste.
Co-owner, Jason Spears graduated from high school in Fort Worth, and attended college in Golden, CO, where he developed a fondness for the hometown beer. He then moved to New York, and back across the country to Seattle – landing in Starbuck’s corporate. “That’s when I developed an allergy to hops and explored cider as an alternative,” Spears says.
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As the story goes … he liked it, but found that there wasn’t enough on the market, so he took a few classes and began home-brewing his own varieties. Jason’s original dry cider recipe was perfected in his garage in Woodinville, WA. It’s still the same one they use today.
Around that time his brother Patrick, had just graduated from Arizona State with a journalism degree. Jason invited Patrick to visit him and his family in Washington and that’s when the idea of opening their own cider company was hatched.
Not long after opening their first cidery and taproom in Woodinville in 2015, Locust Cider began winning awards; like the two silver medals at the 2015 World Beer Championships for their dark cherry and sweet aged apple ciders. In the years since, the awards have steadily multiplied, and two additional taprooms have opened – one in Seattle and another in Tacoma (that just opened this fall).
Locust Cider sources apples mostly from Washington state’s Yakima valley. They use white wine yeast and blend their varieties with other juices, using no essences and nothing artificial. They plan to begin sourcing more local Texas products now that the Fort Worth cidery is opening.
The duo always had an eye on bring Locust Cider to Fort Worth. With that in mind, they began wholesaling their wares in Texas in May of 2016. You can find them at Central Market, Total Wine and in restaurants and bars around the state, so there is already some name recognition and a growing following.
All canning will still be done in Woodinville, WA., but now all kegs distributed in Texas will come out of the new Fort Worth production facility. Patrick Spears recently moved back home to Fort Worth to oversee operations, while Jason and his family will remain in Washington.
The adjoining taproom is “where our customers get to experience what we do,” says Jason. “You can try ciders right out of the tank, before anybody else. And we hope folks will hang out and play games.” The taproom will have some old-school Nintendo video games to enjoy with friends. The minimal design will be reminiscent of their other taprooms.
“For the uninitiated, our taproom is a non-committal way to sample cider,” Patrick says. They will have ten rotating taps, including Locust Cider’s five core ciders (original dry, dark cherry, honey pear, sweet aged apple, and vanilla bean) along with five interesting seasonals.
“We do really small batches, so we can try and fail – no big deal,” Jason says. “If it’s no good, we can simply try again.” They are always experimenting on something new, with multiple trials weekly, so when people visit the taproom, they know there will always be something new to try.
Guests can sip on a flight or a pint and then take home a growler or grunt (smaller size) back home. There will also be cans chilled and ready for purchase in the cold case.
For $125 guest can become member of what they call the Swarm. The membership entitles you to half-off growler fills, and a free sampler of all 10 taps to share with a friend.
A portion of every membership is also donated to Locust Cider’s charity recipient – Hydrocephalus Association. Jason Spears daughter was born with the condition, which requires constant monitoring and care. Locust Cider also takes part in the annual Walk to End Hydrocephalus in both Seattle and Dallas.
While our area has exploded with breweries and distilleries in recent years, cider is still a bit unknown. Whereas you “brew” beer and you “distill” spirit, the proper term is simply to “make” cider. I know, because I had to ask.
Hard cider is such an untapped market that Jason and Patrick Spears expect Locust Cider to be one of the top three cider producers in the state of Texas when they open.
You find the libation popping up on menus and many multi-tap establishments now reserve at least two or three for the growing throng of hard cider drinkers. Like Locust Cider’s burgeoning South Main neighborhood, it’s a beverage that’s just on the verge.
710 South Main St., 817-344-7035
Hours: 4 p.m.-10 p.m. Wednesday-Friday, 12 p.m.-10 p.m. Saturday, 12 p.m.-8 p.m. Sunday.