Curiosity can be a persuasive driver for change. So is the case for Jenny and James Hagemann, the Midwestern transplants that found themselves sipping cider in their new hometown of Seattle at the 2016 Cider Summit. “I got my first chance to discover cider from the U.K., France and Spain,” Jenny Hagemann says of her experience at the Summit and the nearby bar and bottle shop Teku Tavern. “I was blown away by how different and nuanced the flavors were from the heavily commercialized stuff I’d been exposed to.”
This spirit of inquiry ignited her entrepreneurial passion, leading the couple out of their 9-5 jobs in the city to open a cider house in Bellingham, Washington, about 90 miles north of Seattle. Hagemann says she realized how difficult it was as a consumer to find these types of ciders at the time, so sourcing and sharing the drinks was the impetus behind starting Thousand Acre Cider House, the first cider bar in the beer-saturated town of 80,000.
Hagemann says is the “curiosity of drinkers” that kicked the business’ doors open last August. “That’s what cider needs, the curiosity that brings people to the table,” she adds.
Thousand Acre has been getting plenty of curiosity and interest of its own in the past few months, with the plethora of choices for the adventuresome drinker. The bar promises at least 18 cider taps, along with a handful of beers and several reach-in fridges full of bottled and canned ciders.
The 1,700-square-foot space on Grand Avenue is part of a centenarian building with original parts still preserved. “We were able to keep the original masonry and hardwood floors,” Hagemann says. The brick wall makes a nice backdrop for the 20-seat bar and the high ceilings create a larger atmosphere.
Though it wasn’t part of the original business plan, the couple has been renting out and using the space to host events every week. The events include one-offs like a wreath-making class for the holidays, as well as Cider University, a 10-week course designated to spreading the knowledge of quality cider. “The events are a great way to bring people into the fold and get them drinking cider,” Hagemann adds.
After the holiday season, Thousand Acre will relaunch Cider University, which Hagemann has enjoyed immensely with connecting to the community and sharing her passion of cider. She says she’s very pleased with the success of the past few months and is looking forward to continuing to sow Thousand Acre’s seeds into the small community.