by Mandi LeCompte
Grizzly Ciderworks, Capitol Cider’s Featured Cidermaker for May, was started by Corey Haugen and Andy Petek. What started as a hobby in an apartment quickly grew to a garage, then a small warehouse…and then a big warehouse. The rest is history.
Grizzly is now launching retail packages and broadening distribution throughout the Northwest with a Founder’s Series of four ciders and a rotating Seasonal Series. Luckily, you can taste it at Capitol Cider, too. Andy Petek gives a glimpse into his life as a PNW cidermaker. We hope you enjoy!
How were you introduced to cider, and when did you first start making Cider?
My partner Corey was the one brewing for several years before we got started with Grizzly. My background (Andy) is in beverage distribution and marketing. I also grew up around a lot of agriculture and commodity business in my family, so when cider took off, Corey and I had already been creating brews in his garage that we thought might be suitable for commercial sales. What started in a kitchen lead to a garage, then a bigger garage, then the basement of a winery in Woodinville and on to several different production and storage/operation spaces from there. We’ve produced our cider in four different locations in three years.
How would your friends describe you?
Corey and I are both passionate about the craft beer and cider community. We both come from marketing upbringing and love promoting local food and beverage products. I also own a small consulting business wherein I design labels, websites, packaging, promotional materials and several other services for beverage companies in various categories. We see ourselves as artists, liquid and visual…and wake up every day with the intention to promote a craft movement and cider education to the masses, not just sales of our own product.
If you could only drink one cider for the rest of you life, what would it be?
Not fair! I’ll go top five
– Eaglemount Raspberry Hop (or regular Raspberry)
– 2Towns Hop & Stock (or regular Rhubarbarian)
– Rev Nat Hibiscus Hymnal
– Snowdrift Cornice
– Sea Cider Prohibition
When you’re not making Cider, what are you doing?
As I mentioned, I do a lot of marketing and sales consulting for different wine, beer, soda and (yes)…some cider companies. I love spending my days designing branding, photo and video shoots and more. I’ve got a drone and I LOVE shoot aerial orchard/vineyard shots. Also an avid cyclist and love hanging with my wife and our two dogs, Rex and Tony.
What goes into making the perfect cider?
Fresh-pressed juice for sure. This is a loosely used term these days, but paramount. Consumers understand “not from concentrate or juice,” but the different between buying (or growing) whole apples from the orchard versus buying a tank-load off of a truck can be very different. With companies like Ryan’s and Fruitsmart in the Northwest, it is possible to get quality cider base without being a farmer or transporting/storing/pressing apples, but in the Northwest…apple capitol of the world, there’s no reason to cheat with the bases. There are certainly economic reasons for some producers to attack market share from the big companies like Angry Orchard…which requires creating cheaper product. That’s also a consumer that can’t tell the difference. Not a big deal. But to me, I like a quality base, love beer yeasts and unique spice/botanical blending, like hibiscus, juniper, mint, ginger… over unique secondary fruits/veggies like marionberry, rhubarb, citrus fruits and more. I like off-dry, but punchy.
What sets Grizzly Works apart from other Cideries?
I won’t hide the fact that I’m a disciple of the “New Cider” movement. Corey and I set out to create hopped ciders and have that be our specialty. We both love beer and thought we’d have an opportunity to create a dry alternative for cider lovers and an approachable bridge for beer drinkers. The first several ciders we made were draft-only, completely unfiltered…hazy, foamy…beer-like, but gluten-free and from an apple base. The trouble is, a cidery that produces only hopped ciders is like a brewery that makes only Imperial IPAs. There’s a small group who seek those out. Furthermore, much like white wine, consumer talk dry, drink sweet. SOOO…we’ve adjusted our product line to still keep our vision and identity, but include more spices, botanicals and some fruit blends. They are still very dry and off-dry at the “sweetest,” but we are leaning more toward filtered, light, easy-drinking blends. Sessionable isn’t the right term because they’re all 6.5-6.9% ABV, but “drinkability” is a big thing to us. You can take down a couple pints of Griz no problem.