In a town of seemingly endless breweries, cideries are making a rise in Bellingham, Washington. By 2018, three new cider-focused operations were open in Bellingham, creating a new type of nightlife in the waterfront city 90 miles north of Seattle.
One of the cideries, Lost Giants Cider Co., is making a name for itself by creating new cider infusions weekly along with its usual ciders. Named after the Lost Giants mountain biking trail in Bellingham by its outdoorsy founders, this cidery is helping to create the city’s cider identity.
FROM GROUND ZERO
According to Chris Noskoff, Lost Giants co-owner and operations manager, the desire for cideries was nearly nonexistent in Bellingham when they first broke ground, noting his brewery background as a driver in opening a cidery. Apart from wanting to break away from the mold, Noskoff says he admires how diverse cider can be and the ability to use apple grown in-state.
“I like to be able to take advantage of the agricultural abundance that Washington offers,” Noskoff says. “Cider is very multidimensional, there is a lot of room to play and be creative.”
One of the ways Lost Giants answers the call for creativity is by experimenting each week with new cider infusions. Pointing out how there are over 4,000 known varieties of apples, Noskoff says the ideas are endless. “The whole reason we have the [infusion] program is to get feedback from customers and for us to have the opportunity to experiment with different flavors and see what blends well with apples,” he adds.
Since opening, Lost Giants has produced around 65 infused ciders. The infusion process utilizes a randall — a filter, typically seen in beer with hops, that can be filled with ingredients and infused within minutes. For Lost Giants, the randall is filled up with fruits, vegetables or spices instead of hops and, in 10 minutes or less, a new cider is made.
“We have a lot of diversity in our lineup,” Noskoff says. “I don’t know anyone else who is doing that… We really want to have something new out as often as possible and the infusion program does that perfectly because it’s a new cider every single week.”
Noskoff says in the last year his beliefs over what would work have been dispelled, realizing how different people have different desires for cider. Despite reading about how semisweet ciders are regularly the most popular pick for other producers, Noskoff says their customers’ drink of choice is Lost Giants’ dry cider. “When we opened, I thought a semisweet cider would be our flagship cider, but we were dead wrong about that,” he adds.
As what’s next, the team behind Lost Giants hopes to expand the company out of Bellingham as a regional brand, acquire an orchard with local farmers and to continue to convert people over to drinking cider. “One the comments we hear a lot is that people come in and say ‘I don’t know if I like cider, I am more of a beer drinker,’ and then they try our cider and love it,” Noskoff says. “To me, that’s the greatest part of interacting with customers.”