Business

Tin City Cider Co. set to open its taproom this week in Paso Robles

Exterior of Tin City Cider Co.
Exterior of Tin City Cider Co.

Wine, beer, spirits and now cider — Paso Robles’ Tin City complex now offers four categories of libations with the opening this week of Tin City Cider Co.

The taproom at 3005-A Limestone Way — filled with corrugated tin, long communal tables and old orchard ladders hanging overhead — will be open seven days a week, serving cider flights, pints and to-go bottles and refillable growlers. The company declined to disclose its investment.

Adjacent to the space, two of the three winemakers collaborating on the cider house are also debuting the tasting room for another joint project, Fableist wines.

Tin City Cider joins a handful of other San Luis Obispo County cider-makers that have cropped up in recent years, reflecting fast national growth in cider consumption. While it’s still a fraction of the beer market, cider sales shot up sixfold from 2011 to 2015, according to Nielsen, a consumer research firm that also projected further “significant growth” based on the drink’s popularity in the United Kingdom.

Locally, the inaugural Central Coast Cider Festival was held in Atascadero last May, and the Hard Core Cider Tour, started last year in Pasadena and Santa Cruz, is coming to El Chorro Regional Park in San Luis Obispo Oct. 22.

The appeal? A new appreciation for flavor experimentation and the perceived health benefits of a lower calorie and gluten-free alcoholic beverage, Nielsen and others say. Plus, craft cider makers such as Tin City Cider are offering a crisp alternative to the syrupy, sweet ciders widely available in the past.

Tin City Cider has been producing its original dry, hopped cider in 500 ml cans for several months, but the taproom opening marks the debut of Tin City’s specialty small-batch ciders, many of which may be available only on-site or to cider club members.

The current lineup includes one made with passion fruit from Cambria’s Stepladder Ranch, a sour beer/cider hybrid and Templetucky, co-fermented with Cambria blood oranges and aged in bourbon barrels for four months.

But that’s just the start, said Curt Schalchlin of Sans Liege wines, who partnered on Tin City Cider with Field RecordingsAndrew Jones and Scar of the Sea’s Mikey Giugni, who makes his own cider as well as Tin City’s.

“There’s so much room to get geeky and have fun with it,” said Schalchlin, rattling off various fruits infusions, wine/cider hybrids and other concoctions in the works. “We can use different yeasts and different barrels. There’s a lot of experimentation.”

It’s a nice contrast to the Fableist, Schalchlin said, where he and Jones are aiming for varietally clean expressions of six mainstay grapes with an affordable price point. Fableist began in 2012 with cabernet sauvignon and merlot, and this year added petite sirah, tempranillo, pinot noir and chardonnay, each selling for $20.

Both locations are holding grand opening celebrations from 1 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, with live music and food from Society Cuisine from 4 to 8 p.m.

Sally Buffalo writes about wine, beer and spirits. Reach her at sallybuffalo@gmail.com or on Twitter @sallybuffalo.

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