Sunday, January 27, 2013

More Cider

I regret being so disparaging on recent posts. Really, I want to encourage as many cider makers as possible, licensed or otherwise. The goal is not to allow cider to become an industry of "efficiency".  In some ways, it was the first to succumb to the economy-of-scale 100 years ago when the modern world rewarded the companies that did things bigger, faster, cheaper and in greater quantity then their competition,  Now cider has the chance to be the first (OK, the second- the micro beer movement is proving first) industry to prove those 20th century business ideas wrong.  In fact, 100 cideries will employ about 20x the people of just one cidery producing the same number of gallons.  It's not as "efficient", nobody will become "Wall Street rich", but the diversity in the product is good for customer.  MORE CIDER MAKERS!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

The Non-Organic Cider Business

Cider is clearly growing too fast.  In this instantaneous era, entrepreneurs are trying to create a drink that reflects the experience of a specialized farmer and fermenter, and then trying to replicate the sales of a business that arose organically out of the craft and from a relationship with the consumer.

Cider, as the industry now defines it, is hallow shell of (1) entrepreneurs looking to capitalize on the next start-up craze and (2) opportunistic farmers trying to rebrand their tired operation to make it look like they were hip to cider all along.  Right now, the only safety net is the consumer.  It is up to you to recognize the real deal because the producers and the government are conspiring to sell you crap in sheep's clothing.

But let's not just pick on the "outside" entrepreneurs, let's also be critical of opportunistic farmers.
Pretend for a minute: Your grandfather got into the art supply business 70 years ago making paints.  back then, then there was a real market for it and he personally enjoyed working with artists too.  Now, you come along and you inherit this art supply company, does that make you an artist?  It didn't even make your grandfather and artist, so why should we expect today's apple growers to be expert cider makers?  They need to learn the formal qualities of the craft just like everyone else (which is a full-time endeavour in itself,) and just like with art, only a few people are natural talented for it.  You can't write that into a business plan.

Update 2013

I would much prefer to rant and rail about cider but why don't I just give a state of the nation address instead.
The state of cider is...good. 
The industry is in a volatile and explosive stage, but for now, in this season of inventory, let's sum up this past year of record starts as "mostly good."

(perhaps I'll update this post over the course of January)