They say an apple a day keeps the doctor away. But they never said those apples couldn’t be fermented.
Two Modesto friends are betting on apples as their business. Wells Mounday and Corey Martin founded Tapped Apple last year and are making craft hard cider in Salida. What started as a crazy idea between two friends at a party has become a seven-year passion project. And now it appears to be the first combined apple cider house and cidery to open in the Central Valley south of Sacramento.
“Our kids went to the same school and we started having barbecues together and were like, ‘What do you like to drink?’ And I was like, ‘You like cider? Oh, I like cider, too!’ ” Mounday said
So the men looked up how to make hard cider on the internet, and gave it a try. The results, at first, were “absolutely terrible,” they both agreed. But they kept trying and trying, making batches in their garages.
“A few people started requesting it. People would come to my home specifically to drink cider,” Martin said. “So I was like, ‘Oh, this is something people want at their barbecues.’ This could be something.”
Last month Tapped Apple expanded the hours for its tasting room off Pirrone Road to two days from one and this month they will begin ramping up production thanks to a newly installed 30-barrel fermenter. They have a rotating selection of hard cider flavors on tap in the tasting room to sample or purchase. And it’s also currently on tap at The Fox Pub in downtown Modesto, though the business partners hope to be in about 20 area locations by the end of the year.
Unlike beer making, the process of making hard cider is relatively simple. It takes juice, yeast and time — no boiling or cooking needed like in breweries. But unlike beer, it generally takes longer to ferment and mature, from three to six months, at minimum, and requires careful temperature control.
Tapped Apple uses pasteurized fresh-pressed apple juice it purchases from growers in the Pacific Northwest made from Jonagold, Honey Crisp and Fuji apples among others, up to four kinds of yeast and organic nutrients in its cider. The end result is free of sulfites and preservatives. The taste is crisp and sweet, but not sickeningly sweet. And it packs a punch at 6.9 percent alcohol content.
“Lots of people have this perception of cider as Jolly Ranchers. Just this overwhelming flavor,” Martin said. “We didn’t want to be like that.”
The cider house currently has six flavors to sample: Its original apple, Concert in the Park (cranberry-apple), Stone Fruit (peaches, nectarines and apples), Blue Pom (blueberry, pomegranate and apple), Razz (raspberry-apple) and ginger. In the fall and winter they serve pumpkin spice and brown sugar-vanilla ciders. So far, they’ve produced about 16 flavors in all. Their most popular are the plain apple and Concert in the Park, named after the summer MoBand festivities each year.
All of the tastings are done in the shadow of the cidery’s fermenters and bright tank. The men make, ferment, store and serve the hard cider all within their small, packed 1,100-square-foot warehouse space. They had originally looked for a place in Modesto, but could not find a location that would work. The Salida site is in a business park adjacent to Full Throttle Motorcycle Shop.
The tap room is open from 3 to 9 p.m. Friday and 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday. A glass costs $5 and a flight is $7. Or, you can take home a jug (the same as a growler for beer) for $10, plus $5 for the bottle. Then the next time you stop in you can return it and receive another filled jug for $10.
With the new 30-barrel fermenter (which can make 930 gallons of hard cider) in addition to their existing 10-barrel fermenter, they plan to start making a new batch of cider each month. Both men left their day jobs, Mounday in tech and Martin in construction, to work on Tapped Apple. Since getting licensed January 2017, the men opened the tap room last October. In between they’ve brought their cider to charity and special events, spreading through word of mouth.
Elsewhere around the Business Beat:
Got a stack of sensitive documents at home in need of shredding?
Central Valley Community Bank is offering its free, annual document shredding event at all of its 20 local branches. The Modesto event will be from 9 a.m. to noon Tuesday, April 10, at its location at 2020 Standiford Ave., Suite H. You’re allowed to bring up to four banker boxes, which will be returned for personal recycling. Paper documents only, so remove all binders, clips and other items in advance.
And if you happen to miss that free shredding opportunity, there will be another one a little later this month at the city’s annual Earth Day in the Park celebration Saturday, April 21, in Graceada Park.