With the opening of Dan Kelly's Pub, the Twin Cities is getting an infusion of cider options. Owner Matty O'Reilly, who also owns Republic 7 Corners, has a longstanding interest in the apple-derived brew, which he sees following a similar trajectory to craft beer: Once consumers learn there are better, less gimmicky options available, cider will have its day in the sun.
"Basically, the small company is here but doesn't have advertising dollars," O'Reilly says. "Just because the average consumer hasn't heard of it doesn't mean it's not great," he says of Minnesota-based operations such as Sociable Cider Werks and Sweetland, which he serves on tap.
He's trying to help those little guys by getting their name out there, dedicating four permanent Dan Kelly's taps to the product. "Cider has been rooted in Irish culture for hundreds, if not possibly a thousand years," he notes. And while Dan Kelly's menu doesn't carry specifically Irish-made ciders, that's not for lack of trying.
Quality is the number-one focus, and he isn't a fan of the Irish-made ciders that are currently available in Minnesota. He's been reaching out to European companies trying to get them into the local market, but most only cater to the stronger cider scenes on the coasts.
Instead, he happily features locally made ciders. "When the product is awesome and it's local, it's a win-win for me," O'Reilly says. "My dream would be that a slew of French, Spanish, and Irish ciders would flood the market within the year, only to expand horizons and bring a little global knowledge to the Minnesota cider world."
Cider is due for some attention, O'Reilly feels, and not just because of the gluten-free trend that has given it a market boost. "For me it's more of a mirror of macro beer to craft beer, meaning that for a long time a few, very large companies dominated national sales," and consumers were in the dark about options. Dan Kelly's carries Julian Harvest Apple cider, Sociable Hop-a-Wheelie, Sweetland Orchard Sweet cider, and an exclusive product they make with Sweetland, the whiskey oak-aged Bareknuckle cider.
Minnesota has a successful orchard industry, though cider apples and eating apples are different products. Like a vineyard, it takes time before an orchard reaches maturity and can produce quality ciders.
Dan Kelly's has four dedicated cider lines and 24 total draft lines. Republic 7 Corners carries 104 total draft lines with approximately 15 dedicated to cider. Both locations will rotate items based on availability.
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