At Whiskey Barrel Cider Company, owners Trent Maier and Brian Augdahl like to keep it simple. A plain, black-and-white aesthetic defines their logo, a stick figure illustrates their labels and the hard cider is made from nothing but filtered juice and yeast that's fermented for about three months.
"I have a pretty minimalist approach to the cidermaking process," says Maier, who started the company in Pullman with his friend Augdahl in 2012. "I don't add any chemicals and don't have a lot of stabilizers. I work with the fruit we get and let it do its own thing as much as possible."
Maier notes two schools of thought on cidermaking: a newer model, which Whiskey Barrel exemplifies, where cidermakers use apples that are easy to get, and the older approach.
"The old-school thought process more closely resembles more traditional winemaking, where they use traditional cider apples," says Maier.
Those traditional apples are a bitter variety that's hard to come by, so he sources apples grown mostly in Washington in varieties commonly found in grocery stores.
At the Cider House — their tap room that opened almost a year and a half ago — you'll find a lineup of about eight ciders ($3.71 to $5.56 per pint) made from blends of sweet and sour apples such as Golden Delicious, Bala and Braeburn.
Granny Smith apples are featured in the tart-tasting Granny Cider, while the Whiskey Barrel Cider is aged in Rogue whiskey barrels. A seasonal cider flavored with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves is currently on tap for winter, and there's a non-alcoholic fresh cider that's tasty either hot or cold. You can down your cider along with something from what Maier calls their "little-bit-beyond-an-appetizer menu," which features salads ($4-$7), hummus plates ($5-$7) and pita pizzas ($3-$6) with a variety of bread, meat and veggie options.
Outside of the Cider House, bottles of Whiskey Barrel can be found at Dissmore's IGA, the Moscow Rosauers and Moscow Food Co-op. Soon — Maier estimates around March — cans of their cider will hit store shelves all around Eastern Washington and North Idaho as they move away from bottling by hand to a larger-scale production of 16-ounce cans. ♦
The Cider House • 588 SE Bishop Blvd., Pullman • Open Sun-Wed, 3-9 pm; Thu, 3-10 pm; Fri-Sat, noon-10 pm • whiskeybarrelcider.com • 339-6102