Friday, June 6, 2014

The locals' laboratory

Cigar City Cider and Mead will involve the community in its creative process.

Posted By on Fri, Jun 6, 2014 at 9:47 AM

click to enlarge GLAD SCIENTISTS: (L-R) Cigar City Brewing’s vice president Justin Clark, founder Joey Redner and Todd Strauss of Cigar City Cider and Mead stand in front of the company's cider and mead facility. - MEAGHAN HABUDA
  • Meaghan Habuda
  • GLAD SCIENTISTS: (L-R) Cigar City Brewing’s vice president Justin Clark, founder Joey Redner and Todd Strauss of Cigar City Cider and Mead stand in front of the company's cider and mead facility.

For Todd Strauss, Cigar City Cider and Mead is collaborative as much as it is creative.

Headquartered at 1812 N. 15th St., an address whose former tenants have included Roosevelt 2.0 and Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Cigar City Cider and Mead will invite local businesses to help develop hard cider recipes, dedicating the product to them afterward.

“It goes back to the idea of supporting the people around me,” said Strauss, who runs the company as operations manager.

He defined the establishments that neighbor Cigar City Cider and Mead, including Row Boat Mediterranean Cuisine and The Bricks, in one word: awesome. Strauss said he hopes the company will become a part of the Ybor City community.

Although its cider has been showcased for more than a year, Cigar City Cider and Mead didn’t have a production facility or tasting room of its own until the storefront digs were secured.

Strauss and Cigar City Brewing founder Joey Redner refer to the space as their “lab.”

Unlike the brewery, “There’s more variety here because we can control the ingredients with precision,” Redner said, adding that the state doesn’t have any operating meaderies fermenting mead, or honey wine, consistently.

With floors, drains and electricity in the works, Strauss said the building will premiere by mid-July in three phases. The downstairs portion, composed of the production and tasting space, will open first, followed by a cider and mead garden outside. Later, patrons will have access to the interior’s upstairs balcony.

The meads will be made with Florida honey, and Redner said the company may be able to source apples and other products to crush in house for ciders, too.

Cigar City Cider and Mead will likely re-release its Fight the Power Sour Apple Cider, and is set to can the Homemade Apple Pie Cider next month. Although its facility isn’t large enough to can all of its liquids on site, it will can what it’s able to, in addition to working with Craft Beer Crew, a mobile canning service.

Cans, growlers and crowlers — growler-sized cans that are filled and sealed “on the fly,” as Strauss described — will be available for purchase in the tasting room.

Collaborating with Angry Chair Brewing and other businesses in the area, Cigar City Cider and Mead also plans to partner with Michigan’s B. Nektar Meadery.

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