Greg Hall of Virtue Cider: Interview Transcript

The guys at Aleheads have posted a podcast featuring an interview with Greg Hall of Virtue Cider. Hall is the former brewmaster at craft brewing pioneer Goose Island and is bringing his vast experience from the craft beer world to the craft cider world. There’s much of interest in the 40-minute interview, particularly Hall’s desire to release many different styles of cider based on the various English, French, Spanish, and New World cidermaking traditions.

I agree with Hall’s vision for craft cider and believe that Virtue has a nice blueprint for success in the American market, but I’m interested to hear other viewpoints. Please start the conversation by leaving a comment! (If there are any obvious errors in the transcript, please let me know so I can fix them.)


Aleheads: Hey, everybody. Welcome to the Aleheads podcast. I’m your host Slouch Sixpack. And today I’m delighted to be joined with a true craft beer pioneer and legend, Greg Hall, former brewmaster at Goose Island. His latest venture is Virtue Cider. They’re looking to produce heirloom apple ciders using modern craft fermentation and aging techniques. Greg, welcome to the show!

Greg Hall: Hey, thanks a lot! Thanks for having me on.

Aleheads: Well I’ve been following the story of Virtue pretty closely ever since it was announced. There was a recent announcement that you’re coming out with an initial offering called RedStreak. Is this going to be the flagship cider for Virtue?

Greg Hall: This is going to be our first one. This year, because of the turnaround from leaving Goose Island until the apple harvest season was only a few months, so we didn’t have time to get our facility up and running. So we are partnering with a winemaker in southwest Michigan [St. Julian] who is making our cider this year. And in the future we’ll be doing that at our own facility. But with that in mind, we thought it would be best to stick to one to start with. So we’re making an English-style, kind of a farmhouse-style cider. My experience in traveling England and trying a bunch of wonderful ciders there…it’s going to have some English varieties and some nice acidity and also a little bit of tannin. And that’s called RedStreak.

Aleheads: In the development of this particular recipe, have you found that designing—or coming up with a cider offering—is more akin to what you experience making beers with Goose Island, or is the reliance on having to source fruit…is making cider more similar to wine?

Greg Hall: Well, I’ve never made wine, so I can’t speak to that. Of course there’s obviously similarities. But I approached it like we’ve been doing making beer at Goose, where we just try to control as many different variables as possible. And use different apples and different levels of ripeness and different yeast varieties and different temperatures—and all those different things to really influence different flavors in the cider. We actually started off with about 24 different varieties that we tested and 18 different yeast strains, and boiled that down to five apples we really liked and three different yeast strains. So we did three separate fermentations and blended those together and are aging some of that in wood. So we’re trying to develop the complexity that you get in a native-fermented cider, one that’s fermented with yeast that’s native to the orchard. And do that by crossing different yeast strains rather than relying on one strain. And we think we’re getting pretty close.

Aleheads: So there’s going to be five different apple varieties in the RedStreak. And I’ve read that cider apples have almost no utility for consumption, just eating, that they just don’t taste good. How have you been able to get a hold of enough apples to be able to get this thing going?

Greg Hall: Well, one of the things that worked out really strongly in our favor is the fact that we’re making our cider in Michigan. And we relied on a lot of Michigan apples and some Illinois apples as well. But the big apple farmers typically are growing the varieties that you’ll find in most supermarkets all over the country. And if you go to a supermarket in Washington state or Washington, D.C. or Los Angeles or rural Kansas, you’re going to get the same varieties everywhere, about nine varieties. So the big commercial apple growers grow mostly those. But in Michigan there are still over a thousand family farmers growing apples. So a lot of those are multi-generational, and they’re growing apples that their great-grandfathers were growing. So they’ve got some of those older varieties still growing in Michigan.

And then we’ve got a nice partnership with a farmer in the Chicago area, about 40-50 miles outside of town, called Nichols Farm. And he grows a bunch of heirloom varieties that we tried a bunch of. And one we decided to use a lot of is called Cox’s Orange Pippin, which is an old English variety. And it contributes a nice acidity and some tannin—it’s actually a pretty good eating apple, too. You don’t see a lot of them, so we got as many as we could, we got about 20,000 pounds of those. It turned into a pretty good cider.

Aleheads: Are there really any examples of ciders that are available to consumers in the US right now that are similar to what you’re doing? Or is nobody in the country really making cider the way that Virtue intends to?

Greg Hall: Well, I think we’re going to go about it a little bit differently, but there’s really a lot of great cider in the US. Typically it’s pretty small producers. Theirs might be local or regional—some of these guys are really sub-regional. This guy up in northern Michigan named Dan Young who’s got a company called Tandem Ciders, and he makes fantastic cider. But they really only sell it in one county. And then there’s Farnum Hill from Lebanon, New Hampshire. They make some great ciders that are starting to get out there on the East Coast. Steve Wood makes that cider, and he grows all his own apples—so when they run out of apples, they can’t really make any more cider. There’s other people like that. Diane Flynt down at Foggy Ridge in the western part of the state of Virginia, she makes terrific cider with some heirloom varieties, and they’re really great ciders. But you’ve got to be in the neighborhood to get them. And what I thought was, there’s an opportunity to make these real traditional ciders and give them a little bit broader audience. And that’s what we’re trying to do with Virtue.

Aleheads: Of course from your work with Goose Island…when did you become head brewer there? Mid or early ’90s, or before that?

Greg Hall: I think it was ’91 or ’92. I think it was ’92 when our first brewer left…it was so long ago it’s hard to recall. But I started working there in ’88, I went through Siebel in ’89, and then I took over in either ’91 or ’92. Back then, the craft beer world was a lot like the cider world today. There were some good brands scattered around the US, but if you went to most bars or most restaurants or stores, there wasn’t a whole lot of availability.

Aleheads: Yeah, I was thinking about that sort of natural similarity, where the craft beer world now, of course we’re approaching—or maybe we’ve actually hit—2,000 craft brewers in the country, it’s just impossible for everyone to know each other. But I guess in the world of cider—as you say, there’s only handfuls of really small, sub-regional kinds of ciderists out there—so it must be exciting to getting into a second fermented beverage at this kind of state in its history in the US.

Greg Hall: Yeah, it is a lot of fun. There was actually a craft cider conference in Chicago just a couple weeks ago. And there were probably a little over a hundred people in for that. And I got to meet a lot of cidermakers that I hadn’t met before from all over the country. And we talked a lot about growing pains. And people asked me a lot of questions, because I’d kind of gone through that with the beer side. And one of the fun guys I got to catch up with is Brad Page, who’s at Colorado Cider Company. And he was one of the early brewers at Wynkoop when they first opened back in ’88. So I think we were both at our first craft beer conference in Chicago in 1988, and it was about the same size as the craft cider conference. But that was a long time ago.

Aleheads: I grew up in southeastern Michigan, and the economic challenges that that state has faced over the past couple decades with the auto industry moving out is pretty well known. So it’s exciting to see—obviously, there’s lots of strong craft brewing in Michigan with companies like Bell’s and Founders and tons and tons more. But I’m excited to see that it looks like Michigan’s going to be part of this cider revival as well. Did Virtue purchase some land in Michigan, southwest Michigan I believe?

Greg Hall: We’ve got some land we’ve identified, we’ve got an offer into the bank, they’re reviewing the offer, and we hope to be announcing something in the next few weeks. But we’re looking at southwest Michigan—I bought a house up there—so I’m kind of going back and forth between that area and Chicago right now. It’s only a couple hours away, so it’s not too bad—the commute to go up there for a few days a week and then come back. But Michigan’s a great apple state, with all those different apple farmers.

One of the things that I really loved about the brewing world was the two or three days a year I got to go out and meet hop farmers, and go out on the hop farms. The only thing I didn’t like was it was only two or three days a year. Making cider, I’m three miles away from one of our apple growers. So I’ve been sleeping in his orchard [?] for the last seven or eight years. So it’s really fun to be around the farmers and the trees all the time, instead of just a couple times a year.

And I think that’s going to be one of the really cool things about cider—craft cider in the next five or ten years in the US—is while there are local breweries in every market now, very few of them are able to get their malt or hops locally. Unless you’re in the Northwest, it’s hard to do. But there are local cidermakers in many different states that are using local apples. So the whole local thing—drink local—it’s not just made locally, it’s actually grown locally. And I think that is really going to excite a lot of people. Because the apples are different based on where you’re growing them, you’ll have all sorts of different ciders from all over the country. That’ll be a lot of fun.

Aleheads: That is an interesting aspect of this. There’s tons of excellent breweries all over the East Coast, but they’re all dependent on malthouses primarily west of the Mississippi, and primarily hops grown in the Pacific Northwest. Despite the fact that local breweries have this connection with the community and it’s made right there, there’s a little bit of a disconnect in the ingredients. We’re starting to see some hop growing in New York, and I think they’re doing some stuff in North Carolina and other areas. But there is that disconnect that doesn’t necessarily exist with cider. Tell us about—you spent some time in Europe—can you tell us about some of your experiences with cidermakers over there and the way that cider is viewed culturally in different countries in Europe?

Greg Hall: Sure. It’s a whole different ballgame over there. It’s been part of the tradition of drinking, really as long as beer has, or wine in many of these cultures. Depending on the region, it can be anywhere—like in England, it’s about 15% of the beer market. And if you go the West Country—counties like Gloucestershire, Herefordshire, and Somerset—it might be half of the beer market. So it’s part of everybody’s everyday life. You’ll go in and they’ll have as many ciders on tap sometimes as beers. Wales, too. And then when you go to Normandy, it’s kind of the same thing in France. Normandy and Brittany there, you are driving around and there are cidermakers every couple miles. And a lot of them over there are very small—and they’re family cidermakers—so they grow their own apples, they produce their cider right there, and then the only place you can get it is right there on the farm. So there is surprising variation from one farm to the next, even when they are almost adjacent to each other.

But it shows the different techniques of cidermaking, just controling one or two variables can really change the cider quite a bit. And that was something that was really interesting for me in getting into it. I was a little worried when I was thinking about doing cider that I wouldn’t have the flexibility that I had in beer. With beer, you can make anything from a kölsch beer to a barrel-aged imperial stout, and they are as different as you can imagine them being. And I thought, boy, with cider it’s just going to be apples, how am I going to make apples taste different? And it turns out, between not only different apple varieties but different yeast strains and different milling and aging techniques, there’s lots of different things you can do to really change one cider from another. There’s a lot of variables in there. Just all the test ciders that we did over the autumn here in Chicago, we came up with all these different flavors, it was a lot of fun. I can’t wait to have a bigger facility so I can really play with the different things.

Aleheads: It’s my understanding, at least in England, that in some ways cider is very much a working person’s drink. I’m not sure if that’s necessarily always the case, but that seems to be what I’ve heard. And when you were at Goose Island, part of your philosophy seemed to be to present the idea that beer could be complex and could pair with foods in the way that wine does. Trying to elevate it to wine status, especially with your barrel-aged beers and some of your wild beers and things like that in the large bottle format. Have you given thought as to how you’re trying to present craft cider to a population that doesn’t have that kind of cultural understanding or preconceptions about what cider is? And how are you trying to present it—I assume the crossover is going to be with a lot of people that like craft beer, and trying to introduce them to craft cider—and how are you trying to get them interested and present cider as a product?

Greg Hall: I think there’s a couple things there. One is, like you say, in England a lot of people over there view it as kind of a working class drink. And there are some low-priced ciders that are more on the sweet side than the tart or high-tannin side, that might be used more as an alcohol delivery device than a refreshing alcoholic delivery device rather than something that really enhances a meal. But I think when you get into the West Country, again, the places where there’s the small cidermakers, people really treat it with a lot more respect. And they’re drinking stuff for the complexity and the flavor and the local character, rather than just to get a buzz on. It’s the same way it was, again, with beer 25 years ago, is we have to do a little bit of a job of educating—everybody from the distributor, the wholesaler, down to the retailer, and finally the drinker about how cider can be a little bit different than what they expect.

And one of the things just in the US is there’s a lot of people that don’t realize that cider is a fermented beverage. I can’t tell you how many people I’ve told I’m getting into the cider business, and they’re like ‘Oh, we love—my kids love juice boxes. That’s great!’ And I’m like, ‘Well, that’s not what we’re doing. That’s apple juice, we’re not making apple juice, we’re making cider!’ And I think just about everywhere else in the world, cider or cidre or whatever they call it locally is fermented and apple juice is unfermented. But here, I don’t know the roots of that—people think of cider as a sweet, unfiltered apple drink you have in the fall. [Commercial cidermaking became illegal during Prohibition and farmers had to get creative with semantics to sell the juice.] And that’s great, too, but we will have to do some education.

I think it’s a lot different than it was in the late ’80s and early ’90s. Because back then, finding someone who was really into beer—maybe Belgian beers or English ales—it was very hard to find people like that. Not as many people traveled, you didn’t really have the whole Internet thing and BeerAdvocate and all these wonderful resources like yourself to educate people. You had to basically go find an out-of-publication Michael Jackson book, The World Guide to Beer. I think every brewer in America had The World Guide to Beer back in the late ’80s and early ’90s. And that’s the only way you could find out about other beers, that was it! Today it’s really easy to disseminate information, so it’s a little bit different time. And people, because they expect so much from beer now, I think it’ll be really easy to transition them into putting cider in their repertoire. We don’t expect anyone’s going to drop beer or drop wine and only drink cider. But we think there’s an opportunity to get people to add it to the list of things they drink. And it works well on many occasions. It can be very refreshing and then, as you were alluding to, it’s a fantastic pairing with food.

I remember back in the mid-’90s when Goose Island first started bottling and distributing. And I’d go into some of my favorite restaurants and I’d ask the chefs—who I’m used to see coming into our brewpub—why don’t you guys carry our beer? And they’d say, well, we’re a nice restaurant, we really sell mostly wine…I like your beer, I drink it at home, it’s just that our customers #1 prefer wine and #2 we already have Heineken and Amstel, so we’ve already got both kinds of beer. And that was a typical response in the mid-’90s. And then in the decade that followed, when chefs in restaurants started putting beers on, maybe do beers they liked to drink and put those on. And some of these wonderful hop bombs—and I’m as much a hophead as anybody—they’re delicious to drink, but they really don’t work so well with food. And what I found is a lot of chefs would try stuff and then they’d say, well you know this beer’s really good, but I can’t really have my staff recommend pairing them with their dishes. We want something that has lower bitterness and higher acidity, and just a little bit of tannin. And you look at cider, and it has exactly that.

So when we at Goose came out with beers like Matilda and Sofie and then into things like Madame Rose and Juliet, we were kind of going to what the chefs were asking for as far as food pairings. And I think we’ve been very successful at Goose making beers that work really well with food. And there are a lot of other brewers doing that same thing, too. Rob Tod [Allagash] for instance, his beers go great with food. And a lot of Garrett Oliver‘s especially—a lot of his cork-and-cage things he’s making out of Brooklyn—are great with food because they kind of offer a little bit more acidity and not quite as much tannin, and then really the complexity that a fine wine would have. I look at cider and I say boy, it’s got no hops and no bitterness, it’s got a little bit of tannin depending on how much you want to put in there, and it’s got a lot more acidity than anything but a lambic would have, and it’s right up the alley of what chefs are looking for to pair with their food. And on top of that, it’s really nice, especially nice, with cheese. I’m actually doing a class at Murray’s Cheese on Bleecker in the West Village in New York Thursday night, pairing both beer and cider with cheese. You talk to the people at Murray’s, they’ll tell you that both beer and cider are much better pairings with cheese than wine is. So I think we’ve come a long way in the last 20 years.

Aleheads: One of the trends or truisms that people talk about in the craft beer world is that “sour is the new hoppy”. People have certainly acclimated to hoppy beers and IPAs and Double IPAs are tremendously popular. It seems to be no matter where you are it’s these sour beers and you said it—Matilda and Sofie and beers like that—that are almost impossible to make enough of because they’re labor-intensive and expensive and they require the barrels and all of this. It seems like there’s a market for ciders with the same acidity—it’s not necessarily the same drink—but it has probably more in common, I would think—some of these ciders you’re talking about—might have more in common with a sour beer like Sofie or something like that than they would with a Double IPA or something like that. It almost seems like a market of drinker who appreciates or enjoys sour or funky beers might be people that’d be interested in trying ciders like the ones Virtue’s going to be making.

Greg Hall: Yeah, absolutely. That’s me you’re talking about. We’ve been saying—I think we’ve been probably one of the first five or ten breweries saying that sour is the new hoppy—we’ve been saying that for about five years. And it’s maybe taken a little bit longer to get into the mainstream, but beers with acidity—whether you’re talking something really sour like the stuff out of Cascade out in Portland or some of the really tart lambics or the stuff like Rodenbach. You know, those beers are starting to really gain some mainstream momentum because they’re so quenching and they have such depth of character. And they’re still good with food, they really enhance so many different types of dishes. And I do believe it’s a great opportunity with cider to do the exact same thing.

Most cider apples, you press apples and you measure the pH of the juice. We’ve gotten anything from about 2.8 pH all the way up to 4.2, 4.4. Most of the stuff we’ve pressed was in the 3.2 to 3.6 range. So it’s already very acidic when it’s just coming straight out of the apple. So it’s a great, great start for making a tart beverage. And then depending on the type of microflora you introduce—if you want to do something like they do in northern Spain in the Basque region or Asturias, and go with a full malolactic fermentation—you can get some real nice acidity that I think there’s really nothing more quenching on a hot summer day than an [unclear] or one of the wonderful Spanish ciders. And I look forward to making ciders like that, too.

That’s one of the cool things—back in the late ’80s, early ’90s, you’d go over to England or Germany or Belgium, and everybody had their own beer traditions. They didn’t overlap at all. There were no hefeweizens made in the UK, and there was really nothing very hoppy other than just a few examples in Germany that I can remember. There wasn’t a lot of crossover. And then you had brewers in America making pilsners and IPAs and brown ales and Belgian ales, all out of one brewery. And that was unheard of anywhere else in the world at the time. And I look at cider and it’s the same kind of traditions. You go to England—I actually took a cidermaking class in England—and the guy (who I won’t name), but the instructor in the cidermaking class, he’s like ‘Those French ciders are all real mousy. They’re dirty, they don’t have clean fermentations. And then the Spanish stuff is lactic, it’s terrible.’ And I look at that and I say, boy these are just different styles. As a cidermaker, I want to make French cider and English cider and Spanish cider and some New World ciders too. I’m sure there’s people doing that, but as I said, they’re so small I haven’t even found them yet in the US. There will be a lot of that.

I have had a great French-style cider from a place called EZ Orchards in Salem, Oregon. And they’ve got a website, but they’re really tiny, I don’t think you can get them outside of Oregon, I’m not sure yet. I’m excited to go out there next month and visit them and try their cider. But they’re making really great French-style cider out in Oregon. And then there’s people like Wandering Aengus making some really traditional English ciders out there. I haven’t had any American Spanish-style ciders yet, but I’m sure there’s somebody out there doing it. We’re going to be one of them in the next couple years, and it’s exciting.

Aleheads: When is RedStreak going to be available and how wide an initial distribution are you going to have?

Greg Hall: Our first year, our first season last fall, we bought almost 300,000 pounds of apples, which seems like a lot of apples…and it is, it’s probably about a million apples. And pressed those. One of the things that’s different about beer and cider is you’ve got a pretty short season to make cider. If you’re using fresh apples, you can start pressing maybe in September and you’re done by early January. That’s where we were at, so we had a limited amount of cider we could make this year. So we’re going to be really focusing on just a few markets. Of course, the Chicago market, just because this is where I’ve lived for most of my life and have a lot of friends here and a lot of contacts, so we’ll kick it off here. We’re also going to do a little bit in southwest Michigan. And I’ve got some friends in New York who have promised to help me out too, so we’re going to put a little bit in New York and see how that goes. And that’ll probably be it for 2012. And then we’ll be looking to add some markets in 2013 and years following.

We don’t plan on being the biggest cidermaker, the guys in Vermont—Woodchuck—do a real good job doing a nice mainstream cider that you can find in six-packs all over the country. And that’s really not the market we’re going towards, we’re going more for the draft and the cork-and-cage style stuff. But it’s really interesting of course with Crispin recently being purchased by MillerCoors, I think that’ll be great for the whole cider industry, the category. You’ll get people who, again, think of cider as something your kid drinks around Halloween, you’ll bring a lot more people into the category. They make some pretty cool stuff too. I know Bruce has been fairly innovative with using different yeast strains and doing some barrel aging, and I think that’s going to be great for cider. You’re going to get other people opening things up a little bit. With Crispin’s leading [?] with MillerCoors, I’m sure they’re going to try to put a Crispin handle next to every Blue Moon handle in the country in the next few years.

Aleheads: Yeah, I don’t doubt that. I’ve read an article in Time Out Chicago that you were featured in, and you talked about—I guess I’d call it a criticism of Crispin—in the use of some extra additives, I think they use apple juice concentrate for sweetening at the end and some other sort of additives. Do you see that as a real problem like the end product isn’t good for cider as a whole? It sounds like right now you feel positive about the move.

Greg Hall: Here’s what I feel. I feel like there’s—just like beer—there are adjunct beers and there are all-malt beers, and they’re all beer and they’re for different drinkers. The people that drink adjunct beers aren’t bad people because they drink adjunct beers, and there’s a heck of a lot of those people. I look at cider in kind of the same boat. If you’re really going to get big in cider, it’s hard to do with fresh apples. And I guess, now that I know what Crispin was trying to do, they probably had a plan to grow pretty big and have recipes that they could recreate on a much, much larger scale. And it was smart to go with apple juice concentrate as their primary sugar for a lot of their ciders, because you can use apple juice concentrate year round. Does it make the same quality that you get with fresh apples? It’s a different quality. Some people like it better. You could certainly argue that most people like it better. Just like most people like adjunct beers better.

Again, it’s good for the category to have somebody like that—even when they are making apple juice concentrate ciders—they’re also playing with different yeasts and playing with barrels and all sorts of cool stuff. And they do make some fresh apple ciders. I don’t know what their mix is, but they probably do a little of both, and they’ll probably—if they’re going to get as big as I’m sure the people at Tenth and Blake want them to get—it’s not going to be 100% fresh apples. It’s going to be hard to do that and make cider year round. It’s kind of like fresh hopped beer, everybody’s had a fresh hopped beer, probably, that listens to your show. And those can be pretty spectacular. But you can’t make a whole lot of those. Cider is going to be kind of the same way. We’re going to see what we can do and we’re going to do our best job with fresh apples. What we’re about is not just making great ciders, but also supporting the local apple growers and keeping them growing apples for another generation or two. If we can do that, we feel like we’re on the good side of things. We’re going to really push that.

Aleheads: It sounds like you’re committed to the idea of classic ciders from various regions in Europe and New World ciders. But I know from your work with Goose Island that you’re always looking to push the envelope—try new things and see what happens. I think you had made some mention about putting some of the initial batches of RedStreak in barrels. Are there any other kinds of experiments that you could talk about…it might even just be a pipe dream at this point, something you’re thinking about doing?

Greg Hall: I only wish we had the apples and the time and the space to do everything we’ve talked about doing. And we will, we will soon. But there’s so many different things you can do. And we just keep thinking of more and more things. One of our cidermakers here, Brian, did a cider with some lager yeast. I didn’t expect that would be that good, but it was super clean and it was very tasty, really let the apple shine through really well. There’s all sorts of different yeast strains you can use. As I think I said earlier, we tried about 18 different yeast strains, and once we found about seven that we liked, we tried those with all sorts of different apple varieties. Just like with beer, it imparts completely different flavors. And then you take two of those different flavors and you blend them together and you get another flavor, and you start adding on layers of complexity. So just with nothing but apples and yeast, I think we could probably make 50 different ciders. And I’m pretty excited about that.

Aleheads: Obviously with different yeasts there’s going to be different fermentation times. My understanding of some of the traditional styles is that it’s quite a bit longer fermentation time than with most ale yeasts for example. How long does it take to turn around this first batch of RedStreak, roughly?

Greg Hall: Well, from pressing until serving, about four months. We feel pretty good about that length of time. Certainly you put yeast into freshly pressed apple juice, you put enough yeast in and you let it ferment at a high temperature, you can be done in three days, it’ll ferment super fast. Will it make the kind of cider you want to make? Well, it depends on what you want to make. I think that’s just another variable in the process. And by fermenting at a lower temperature with a lower concentration of yeast, we’re able to see some pretty cool things that we’re already finding are different than a lot of the stuff that’s out there right now.

Aleheads: There’s a small ciderhouse—I’m in Pittsburgh—called Arsenal Cider. And one of the products that they offer is—I think they call it IPC or India Pale Cider or something like that. It’s a mildly hopped cider. I just bottled a batch of homebrew that—a recipe that I’d found on a HomeBrewTalk  forum [perhaps this thread]—that’s sort of a hybrid between beer and cider [graff]. You make a wort with some crystal malt and add unpasteurized apple juice and then add an English ale yeast to it. And it turns around really quickly and you use a small amount of low alpha acid bittering hops. And it came out with a pretty interesting thing. Have you thought about any beer/cider hybrids considering the vast knowlege you have about making beer?

Greg Hall: You know, I would say, have I considered it? Very quickly. But we’re not planning on doing stuff like that. Just because right now I look at all the different options I have really with solely those two ingredients: apples and yeast. If we can do 50 different ciders with those two, and then start going from there, that’s going to give me enough flexibility to do a lot of cool stuff. We actually did have some hopped ciders a couple weeks ago at the conference—actually Brad Page from Colorado Cider Company who was the guy who worked at Wynkoop before—he made a hopped cider [Grasshop-ah] that was pretty tasty, it had some lemongrass in there too. There’s going to be a lot of that I think, and I think that’s really cool. That’s probably not where we’re going to land. We’ll get flavors from the fruit and the yeast and then from the barrel. I don’t think we’ll disappoint you with the lot of varieties we’ll come out with, that’ll be a lot.

Aleheads: I’m not worried about that all, I was just curious! Greg, thanks so much for coming on, I know you’ve got to run. You’ve been very generous with your time and we definitely learned a lot and we’re looking forward to trying Virtue Cider’s initial offering, it’s going to be RedStreak. Any other upcoming events you want to promote or anything you want our listeners to know?

Greg Hall: What I would ask the listeners to do is go out and find your local cidermaker and support them. The more support they get, the more apples they’ll be able to buy next year, and make some more cider. I think we’re going to see a great cider renaissance in this country.

Aleheads: Fantastic. For anybody who wants to learn more about Virtue Cider, you can find them on the web at There’s Twitter @VirtueCider, they’re on Facebook as well, and we’ll provide links to the post. Greg, thanks so much.

And for Greg Hall, this has been Slouch Sixpack saying good night and good drunk.

Greg Hall: Thanks, cheers!