Downtown New Albany already has a pair of breweries and a winery to go with its many restaurants. Sometime in early 2016, the Southern Indiana city will add a craft cidery to that mix.
Matt McMahan, owner of Big Four Burgers + Beer, says the project is only just under way, but he hopes that by spring, the 9,000-square-foot space at 432 Pearl St. will be a place where people can come in for a good meal paired with cider.
A popular alcoholic beverage from Colonial times until Prohibition, cider has begun to regain widespread recognition in recent years, with the largest beer companies releasing ciders to catch up to the growth. In fact, cider is now the fastest-growing alcoholic beverage, up more than 75.4 percent last year, according to market research firm IRI.
“It started with cider,” McMahan says. “It’s crazy it has taken this long to become this mainstream.”
While the cidery is still in the early stages of build-out and planning — a crew was working on wiring early Wednesday afternoon — McMahan has purchased the building and already added a garage door and a third storefront window to the space that once housed offices and cubicle farms. He will consult with Rick Otey of Donum Dei Brewery, also located in New Albany, for the brewing end of the business, while chef Charlie Starcher, who designed the menus at Big Four and McMahan’s other restaurant, Charlie Noble’s Eatery & Draft House, will create the food offerings.
The future cidery doesn’t even have a name yet, and McMahan says he is researching what kinds of permits will be needed to make cider in New Albany, given that cider is somewhere between beer and wine in the eyes of the law.
He believes the business will be a complement to the existing winery and breweries, saying he sees success “if we can be in the middle — and, obviously, with cider being so popular now.”
Since there is no kitchen in the space, that concept will be created once the type of food to be served — “Something that pairs well with cider,” McMahan says — is decided upon.
The cidery and restaurant also will serve wine and craft beer, with a focus on guest ciders and, obviously, the ciders made on-site. The dining area will be along the perimeter of the building, while the brewing equipment will be in the back; the space will be designed so that the brewhouse is visible from the dining room.
The future, McMahan hopes, will include canning and distribution once the business is established and the core ciders are developed. From there, he says, it depends on how well the products are received and how much cider’s general popularity grows.
“The ultimate goal is to make this a production cidery,” he says.