by Mandi LeCompte
Julian Hard Cider, named after the town in which it’s brewed is the creation of Paul Thomas. In the mid 80’s, Thomas first encountered the beverage in England and realized cider was much more than the American ‘apple juice’ that he’d grown up with. He started making small batches in the early 2,000’s, people started getting hooked on his brews, and then he began selling to distributors. Now Julian Hard Cider produces premium, fresh-pressed hard cider, which is available nationwide.
What are the ingredients to success?
Unlike 99% of the hard ciders on the shelf, Julian Hard Cider begins by fermenting with 100% fresh-pressed apples that are grown without chemicals or pesticides and hand-picked from the tree. Each of our blended favorites can take upwards of two years before we let a batch go to market, just to make sure we have the recipe and process dialed to our standards. We don’t come up with flavors every other month just for the sake of calling ourselves “craft”. Sometimes you can actually “out-craft” yourself rushing out blends and flavors and losing the trust of your hard-earned fan-base. It only takes one bad batch or blend to “jump the shark” in this business.
When you’re not brewing up something tasty, what are you doing?
I’m a veteran Navy Corpsman, and started a fun side project called HERO Racing (Helping Everyone Reach Out). We race professional dirt bikes in the Baja 250, 500, 1000 and work to give prosthetics to our amputee American veterans. We have been very fortunate to have now given out eight or so prosthetics, in addition to supporting two orphanages in Mexico for abandoned deaf children and those with mental disabilities.
What are a couple of your must-try ciders and why?
That’s a tough one. It’s like choosing your favorite child! I would say the “must-try” ciders are the ones nothing close to anything on the market. That would be Pearanormal (it’s not your “normal” pear cider) and Apple Pie (blended with multiple hand-crushed spices). These were both ambitious projects that took over a year each to get just right and from what our fans say, we hit a home run.
What sets Julian Hard Cider apart from other cideries?
In this day and age where many in our business are buying apple juice concentrate from China to sell a grossly inferior product at a discounted price, Julian Hard Cider takes pride in being “American to the Core”. From our partner orchards and fermentation facilities in Julian to Oregon, we support our American growers, farmers, bottle and packaging providers. At the end of the day, it costs a little bit more for our fresh-pressed hard cider, but one sip side-by-side with anything in the market separates our best from the rest.