Cherry Graham has always had a fascination with science. While she started homebrewing beer before getting into cider about eight years ago, she fell in love with cider but was displeased with how most she found on the market were sweeter rather than dry. Deciding she couldn’t take it and to start her own business, Graham’s cidery, Hye Cider Co. which she co-owns with her husband Travis, has been making dry cider ever since.
Situated in Hye, Texas, Hye Cider has been transforming what is traditionally thought of as wine country in the Lone Star State. Producing cyser, a cross between cider and mead, Graham has learned a lot about the business since opening 16 months ago.
“What I am really enjoying seeing is that I get a lot more people interested in cider and cyser, and people trying something new and really enjoying it,” Graham says. “I didn’t know how successful we’d be considering where we are — deep in the heart of Texas wine country.”
Setting out to create a dry cider option, Hye Cider’s focus on cyser might be confusing but Graham sets her record straight. “It’s actually a subcategory of mead,” Graham says. “But what it actually is, is that instead of just fermenting apple juice to make cider, you do apple juice and honey together to dry it out.”
Reflective of Graham’s personal taste, Graham’s favorite of her cysers is the Hye Stylin’, which is the original cider made by the company. Exclusively producing cyser, she says consumers have been thrilled to try something so out-of-the-box.
“Because so many people are not familiar with this product, they are really excited,” Graham adds, noting customers enjoy the higher alcohol content, her cysers averaging around 9 percent ABV. “At first they are expecting it to be a lot sweeter when I tell them we use honey in it, but they are always really enthused when they see how dry, crisp and light it actually is.”
While solely making cysers makes her company already unique and different, Graham also believes customers should expect the unexpected when tasting her cidery’s product due to the unusual ingredients used.
“Instead of focusing on fruit-forward styles on the sweeter side, we also put in our bases, a chef-inspired twist on everything,” Graham says. “We have one that is a bayleaf cyser and one that is made with Turkish figs and four different types of toasted peppercorn.”
Hoping all her customers leave with a memorable experience, Graham is deeply pleased with the vibe and attitude her company gives off. Functioning in an 800-square-foot barn that encapsulates both the tasting room and the production facility, she wants her customers to feel like they get a closeup look at the making of the cyser.
“We are kind of the punk rock renegades of the Hill Country,” Graham says. “We are itty bitty, but we have big shows and a lot of fun and I want people to leave with that.”
For the future, Graham wants to expand distribution into other states, but doesn’t want to be sold in every supermarket. Rather, she says she wants her customers to feel surprised when they stumble upon her business.
“This is a close family network with us,” she says. “We work very closely and love what we do.”