By Ty Hillis
Photo courtesy of Locust Cider
The name may not initially give off a pleasant picture. A locust is a loud, large and loutish bug that invades southern states for months on end. Even if you cant see their large bodies, the swarm they travel in sings constantly, engulfing you in a never-ending hum of noise. But to Locust Cider co-owner and cider maker Jason Spears, it is a sound that reminds him of the resilience of life.
Spears did not initially choose cider when given the option. He was a fan of the craft beer scene and the variety that was offered within. But when he began to develop an allergic reaction to beer, he had to look elsewhere for a new type of drink. He looked into ciders, but at the time they were far less popular than they are today. His options were limited, until he stumbled upon a bottle of France favorite Dupont Cidre Reserve. He then realized first hand the potential cider had.
The only problem was that the Cidre Reserve was both hard to get and hard to afford. Spears decided to begin experimenting with making cider on his own, and after about six months, he had realized that it was something he would love to do for a living. His plan was to make a cider that was high in quality, but low in cost.
But again, why Locust? It seems like an odd name to put on a bottle. To Spears, it is the perfect name. When he was 13-years-old, Spears had a run in with some terrible people. While out hitting golf balls with his younger brother, a group of men came up and began to beat him with his own golf club. Luckily, the club snapped in half and Spears was able to get away. As he lay near the side of the road waiting for the ambulance, the one thing he focused on was that locust hum. And in that moment, Spears realized how fragile life could be, but also how great you could live it.
That philosophy now lives on in every bottle that Locust Cider produces, an endeavor Spears launched with his younger brother. “There’s no excuse for accepting less than the best,” Spears says. “People deserve that, life is short.”
The mission behind the cider is to make the best accessible to everyone. The best for Locust comes in the form of three currently featured ciders. The first, the Original Dry, is a session cider meant to be easily enjoyed and paired with just about anything. The Dark Sweet Cherry cider is the sweetest that Locust has to offer, and uses Granny Smith apples with Washington Cherries to produce a wonderfully flavored drink. And finally, the more experimental of the bunch, is the Green Tea Infused cider which may sound strange, but has receive extremely positive feedback. Locust is to release a Thai Ginger cider this weekend, and has plans for a Chipotle Prickly Pear cider down the line.
Although Locust cider has been open for a little while, they are having an official Grand Opening on Saturday, July 30, at their cider house in Woodinville. The event will feature free cider tastings, live music, live paintings and a fundraiser. All of the donations received will go towards Seattle Children’s Hospital, as they are currently caring for Spears’ daughter.
“Everyone at Seattle Children’s Hospital has been so generous and caring for my daughter,” Spears says. “I figured it was time to give something back to them for all their hard work.”
This fundraising event will become a regular event for Locust Cider, as Spears wants to continue his support.
Spears looks back on his childhood encounter in a positive light. Sure, it was a horrible thing to go through at the time, but he is thankful for the results that came from it.
“Every time I hear that locust sound, I am reminded of how short life can be,” he says. “But also of the great things we can do with the time that we are given.”