Saturday, November 16, 2019

My Visit & Tour of Waldschänke Ciders

Life is sometimes more than just whiskey. Wait, what did I just say?

Last week I was in Denver visiting my parents. Last time I came out, my mother wanted to visit a distillery. We visited A.W. Laws Whiskey House.  This year, they heard about a brand new cidery called Waldschänke Ciders (pronounced Vahld Shen Kee) and both Mom and Dad wanted to visit. While I don't drink beer, I do love a good hard cider. But, unlike whiskey, I know virtually nothing about hard cider or how it is made, so this prospect was exciting to me, too.

Waldschänke Ciders is located at 4100 Jason Street just outside of LoDo (Lower Downtown). I met with owners Keane, Kelley and John Dufresne. Keane and Kelley appear in the photo below.

Forgetting for just a second what Waldschänke Ciders has to offer, I was able to speak in-depth with Kelley and Keane. These two young entrepreneurs have their heads screwed on straight. They understand the very long, sometimes brutal hours that lay ahead for them, they know they're not going to magically strike it rich next week, and they have a solid business plan. We bantered about ideas for attracting customers and packing the house. They and father John are in this for the love of making cider and having happy customers. 

Now that tangent is over, let's get to what Waldschänke has on tap.  As I stated earlier, this is a brand new business, open just over a month. They are currently mashing their own cider that will be ready soon. In the meanwhile, they pour 16 different Colorado ciders and two specialty bottles. When their cider is ready, they plan to place it side-by-side with their competing brands. Frankly, I like that idea - let the customer explore what they like best and show how your product can shine. No fear!

Ciders are served in three sizes:  16oz for $8, 10oz for $6, or 4oz for $3.  But, the fun part is you can buy a flight, where you can select any four ciders for $11.  That's the route I chose.

Keane has a lot of woodworking experience, and he created these serving trays for the flights. If nothing else, it made for a beautiful presentation. The menu tells you enough about each option as well as whether it is sweet, semi-sweet, off-dry or dry.  I went with Grow A Pear (a semi-sweet pear cider from Talbotts), Sour Cherry (an off-dry cherry cider from Snow Capped), Blueberry Hibiscus (an off-dry blueberry cider from Wild Cider), and Colomosa (a dry cider made with apples, orange juice and lime from Talbott's).  While I enjoyed all of them, Blueberry Hibiscus was my favorite, but I'm admittedly a blueberry freak, so perhaps it had an unfair advantage. 

There is a lot of construction in the area, with revitalization occurring all over and a 400-unit apartment complex going up directly across the street. Connected to that is a Light Rail station, so Waldschänke has a very good chance of being in a high-traffic area once things are over and done.

John gave me a tour of the back of the house, showing me the mechanics and the private tasting room. 

While this is a different way of doing things than a whiskey distillery, I was able to understand the basics.  They've partnered with Mad Loon Roasters and are getting ready to open up a European-style coffeehouse that will serve traditional pour-overs, french presses, and drip coffees for the morning hours. 

I head to Denver at least annually to see my folks. I made some new friends in Kelley and Keane and it should be exciting to see how much has changed when I visit next. While Denver has a ton of breweries and several distilleries, if you're into doing something off the beaten path, I think you'll enjoy Waldschänke Ciders.


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