John and Tolena Thorburn wanted to start a home-based cidery but were short on the space.
Their solution was to squeeze their brewing system into a slice of their South Hill garage.
Fierce County Cider takes up a whopping 97 square feet, so call it a nano cidery.
The couple debuted their first hard cider, Everything Nice, this month. They dropped off a keg each at Wingman Brewers and Copper Door in Tacoma and Rainier Growlers in South Hill.
The kegs blew fast. Earlier this week, they dropped off a keg with Peaks and Pints in the Proctor neighborhood. Get a glass or growler while you can.
As they start their cidery, the third in Pierce County that’s in active production, they’re sourcing apple juice from Yakima customized to their specifications.
For now, Fierce County Cider is producing kegs for wholesale to taprooms, taverns and restaurants or bars that want to pour their hard cider for adults.
Eventually, the Thorburns plan to bottle.
They’ll keep their day jobs — John works for an events and festival company and Tolena works in marketing — as they grow the business.
They call their first cider the “sugar-and-spice cider.”
“It’s labeled as semi sweet. It has a nice depth of flavor with all of the good hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove,” said Tolena.
John added, “It’s a really nice fall-into-winter mulled cider taste. It’s been received very, very well.”
With those pronounced spice notes and crisp finish, it also just happens to taste like a grownup version of mulled cider.
It packs a bit of a punch, so unless you’re used to drinking cider with a higher alcohol-by-volume content, be careful about finishing a pint and getting behind the wheel of a car.
It rates in at 7.5 percent alcohol by volume. Not extraordinary, but a bit higher than some commercial market hard ciders, such as Angry Orchard (those products rate in about 5 percent).
Their next cider will be a bit of a lower ABV.
“We just finished a batch of something completely new that is a Ginger Cranberry Cider with a 5.8 percent alcohol by volume,” said John.
“It is a light, semi-sweet cider with just a touch of tartness from the cranberry, balanced perfectly with that fresh ginger flavor. We will be delivering a keg of that new cider to Copper Door next Tuesday (Nov. 28).”
Fierce County Cider
On tap: The Copper Door in the Stadium neighborhood, Peaks and Pints in Proctor and Rainier Growlers in South Hill, with more taprooms and bars coming soon.