Here’s a reason to send your kids on a study abroad program: They might come back with a business idea.
David O’Neill and Jason Dayton were juniors at the University of Minnesota when they took off for a semester in England, where they were introduced to British imbibing.
“I came back liking cider and gin and tonic, go figure,” O’Neill said.
Cider, in particular, made an impression on the friends. Back in Minnesota the next semester, they enrolled in an entrepreneurship class, where they hatched a business plan to launch their own cider business. Their professor was their first investor.
Four years later, they are opening their own taproom, along with their co-founder and cider maker Rob Fisk.
Minneapolis Cider Co. opened May 9 (701 SE. 9th St., Mpls., minneapoliscider.co).
To start, there’s their flagship sweet-tart Orchard Blend, the slightly more beer-like Citrus Hop, and the blush-colored Raspberry. Their brew, which is made from juice from a Minnesota orchard, is delicate and drier than the canned stuff in stores, more like prosecco than fruity beer. Though, if Angry Orchard is what people like, they’ll make something like that, too.
“We’re going to be as accessible as we can,” Fisk said. “We’ll give people what they want, even if that’s a craft version of Angry Orchard.”
Still, they hope they can convince people who say they don’t like cider that “not all cider is sweet,” Fisk said. “We want to get people to the drier side.”
Minneapolis Cider Co.’s cavernous taproom is located in a former manufacturing plant that retains some of its original features, including a 10-ton crane. A huge light fixture made from the end of a propane tank hangs from the crane now.
A charcuterie menu of local cheeses (Shepherd’s Way among them) and meats (Red Table) pairs with the current cider menu. And those ciders will eventually be canned and sold in packs from the taproom and, later, in stores.
“Cider is having a moment,” Fisk said. “People want craft beverages made well and local.”