Urban Forage Winery and Ciderhouse is a taproom five years in the making. On Thursday, its doors on Lake Street officially opened to the public.
Jeff Zeitler, owner of Urban Forage, started making cider 25 years ago in his college dorm using ingredients he purchased at the grocery store. Since then, he's fermented everywhere from broom closets to basements.
Now, Zeitler is producing cider in a 100-year-old building on Lake Street, just below his newly opened taproom. In addition to upgrading from a 12x14 college dorm, Zeitler also upgraded his ingredients. The cidermaker foregoes the grocery store to “crowdsource” his ingredients, meaning he forages for the fruit, flowers, and hops he uses.
“Yes, we do pick apples, pears, apricots, and cherries off of local residents’ fruit trees, with permission,” Zeitler explains.
He adds, “Everything is made from fruit that would have gone to waste. It’s what I did as an amateur for years.” Now, Zeitler’s foraging practice is building a sustainable, natural cidery. “[Foraged fruit] isn’t very pretty, but that doesn’t matter when you put it through a press,” he jokes.
Urban Forage ciders and mead have been available in Twin Cities and metro liquor stores for years, growing the cidery a reputation for its organic approach. The unpredictable variety excites Zeitler rather than distresses him. He comments on the dry cider’s natural funk, “That’s the thing with wild yeast -- you never know what you’re going to get!”
Like the cider served within its walls, the Urban Forage taproom is filled with reclaimed and reused objects. The Lake Street taproom is located just six blocks east of Hiawatha. Unassuming on its exterior, the space creates a quiet nook in a busy area.
Zeitler doesn’t plan to incorporate food. “We’re fortunate to be in a neighborhood with lots of good restaurants," he explains. "We’re pretty well served as far as food goes!”
Upon opening, Urban Forage offered two ciders: semi-sweet and dry. The dry cider is truly bone dry, but it finishes with a light apple crispness. Zeitler plans to expand the list to four offerings in the coming weeks, with the additional taps rotating seasonally.
Until new ciders are tapped, they're also pouring several bottles, which is an opportunity for patrons to sample a variety of the flavorful, quirky ciders.
Urban Forage Winery and Ciderhouse
3016 E. Lake St., Minneapolis; 651-235-2726