Unlike the rest of their artisanal hard cider offerings, Liberty Ciderworks' co-founders and cidermakers don't have an exact idea of what's in their latest creation, the Spokane Scrumpy Cider. Known for their award-winning English-style ciders, Liberty's latest special batch, a limited release produced last fall, is made from a literal mash-up of apples picked from local backyards, roadside trees and abandoned orchards — apples that would otherwise have gone to waste.
Scrumpy was made using more than 6,000 pounds of apples collected by volunteers with Spokane's Second Harvest Food Bank. A portion of bottle and keg sales proceeds from the blend is being donated back to the regional food bank.
Cidermaker Austin Dickey describes Scrumpy as slightly sweet and buttery, reminiscent of a white wine. He and co-founder Rick Hastings allowed the cider to ferment using the naturally occurring yeast that arrived on the fruit, rather than adding a cultured yeast strain.
The idea to brew a cider from salvaged apples first arose a few years ago, Dickey explains, after a conversation with the local nonprofit Spokane Edible Tree Project, which collects unwanted fruit to distribute around the region through Second Harvest.
"Our idea was to try to do a hyperlocal cider using overlooked and underappreciated apples," Dickey recalls. "We knew there would be some apples we didn't know, and the hope was that we got an interesting cider out of it. And we ended up with a fairly pleasing product that is not like any other ciders we make."
While this year's Scrumpy is a limited release, customers can find it in bottles at the Liberty Ciderworks tasting room downtown, and on tap at some local restaurants.
In keeping with Liberty's adherence to Old World cider traditions, the name Scrumpy is also a nod to a historical type of English cider. The word "scrump," Dickey explains, means to collect, steal or scrounge.
"So 300 years ago, if you were poor you might grab apples from an orchard at night," he says. "That was scrumping."♦