Raleigh’s first cidery will open this spring. And Raleigh Magazine gets the exclusive look inside.
Raleigh is finally getting its first cidery. It’s about time, right?!
When East Bower Cider Co. (originally known as Shady Grove) opens inside the new East End Market near Atlantic Avenue and Capitol Boulevard late this spring, it will seize on a growing market for hard cider in the Oak City. Co-owner Oliver Koch saw that rising demand firsthand last year while managing State of Beer.
“When we put cider on draft, more people were willing to try it than I’d ever seen before,” he told Raleigh Mag in an exclusive interview.
Koch, who’s spent 15 years in the craft beer industry, quit his job at Terrapin Beer two years after Miller acquired it. Craft beer used to feel punk rock, he said, but it’s lost some of its edge. That’s partly why, when he quit, he planned to open a cidery. The pandemic froze that plan, and Trophy Brewing Co. offered him a soft landing until he could work out the details.
“They’ve been instrumental in every way with helping me launch this,” said Koch. “Trophy is the reason that East Bower Cider is going to exist.”
After another major setback—a potential legal battle that forced him to scuttle the planned “Shady Grove” name he’d been using for years—Koch is set to open East Bower Cider Co. in May or June.
But Raleigh may not be ready for a standalone cidery. That’s why East Bower will feature a full bar with beer, wine and liquor, in addition to making up to 60 barrels of cider at a time. Expect frozen cider drinks to cool off with in the summer, cider-based cocktails and some snack options as well.
As patrons enter the taproom, they’ll see the cidery’s production tanks through glass windows on the left, and the space will be practically littered in plants, a nod to “bower,” which means a shady area of a garden. Half of East Bower’s footprint is dedicated to its 3,000-square-foot patio, much of it covered, while the inside will feel relatively cozy, said Koch.
East Bower will fall somewhere between Bull City Cider’s more straightforward commercial operation and Botanist & Barrel’s experimental and wild-fermented approach. Koch wants to focus on “dry, easy-drinking ciders” derived from apples in western North Carolina and parts of nearby Virginia.
“When we talk about craft beer, a lot of the time the word that comes up is ‘local,’ but the ingredients are mostly coming from the West Coast or Europe,” said Koch. “With cider and us being in North Carolina, there are over 400 different varieties of cider apples. This will truly be a representation of our state
and our agriculture.”
Like hard seltzer, cider is a growing segment of the beverage industry. There are only about a dozen cideries in the North Carolina Cider Association, but with clusters in Charlotte and Asheville, and more consumers realizing that cider can be much more than a Woodchuck sugar bomb, no doubt East Bower will soon have company. Koch certainly hopes so. “The more people drinking cider,
the better for me,” he said.
Brewers often agree, pointing to Asheville as an example of the strength in numbers. The same is true in East Bower’s future neighborhood, which could be called the Brewery District, thanks to Nickelpoint Brewing Company, R&D Brewing, Neuse River Brewing, Lynnwood Brewing Concern and several others nearby. Developments like Raleigh Iron Works and East End Market are also transforming the area into “basically a city” of its own,
luring in more patrons.
“If I could throw a dart at the map, this is where we would want to land,” said Koch. We hope you’re thirsty, Raleigh. @eastbowerciderco