Colorado Craft Cider Makers Hope You Won't Forget Your Apple a Day

Cindy Landi
St. Vrain Cidery keeps a walk-up window open to sell canned cider.
Denver's two-hour prohibition had booze shoppers in a frenzy as they rushed to their favorite bottle shops (or just the nearest one, in many cases) on March 23, as Mayor Michael Hancock announced and then rescinded an order that liquor stores were considered non-essential. The next day, the city clarified that production breweries could also stay open for takeout and delivery sales. But lost in the shuffle were Colorado's cider makers, which make up a tiny but fast-growing sector of the local alcoholic beverage scene. Cideries have been hit hard by the coronavirus crisis, too; some are closed until further notice, while others are continuing production for sale in liquor stores, and some taprooms are still open for limited hours for pick-up.

“The biggest thing is to keep purchasing cider,” says Talia Haykin, co-owner of Haykin Family Cider, at 12001 East 33rd Avenue in Aurora.

Haykin Family Cider is currently open from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. on Fridays and 2 to 5 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays for bottle purchases only. You can also order the small company's ciders for shipping within Colorado and to 37 states on the Haykin website; local delivery has also just been added. “We are so committed to servicing our customers’ needs but also our employees," Haykin says. "We are doing everything we can to keep our small team — two full-time and three part-time — employed."

To maintain a safe and healthy environment, she notes, the facility is being cleaned every day, and payments are being taken with credit cards only, using a chip reader to avoid passing cards back and forth. “The card reader and POS will be sanitized regularly,” she says. “And we will be limiting how many people can be inside to less than ten.”

Colorado Cider Company’s tasting room, at 2650 West Second Avenue, is currently closed, but the cidery just did a “dock sale” on April 4, and more could be in the works; keep an eye on the company's Facebook page for updates. Co-founder Brad Page says the best way to support local cider businesses is to purchase Colorado ciders at local liquor stores. “For tasting room-oriented cideries, I'd say go buy a growler,” he adds.

Even though it’s a chaotic and scary time for small businesses, Page remains optimistic. “This is a difficult situation for all businesses that rely on restaurants and bars,” he notes. “It's going to be difficult, but if we can survive it, there are good days ahead.”

St. Vrain Cidery, at 350 Terry Street in Longmont, is open for pick-up from 2 to 7 p.m., with an option to order, pay and schedule your pick-up time online. St. Vrain has also launched a new food truck, which is taking local delivery orders for food and cider. And if you live outside of Longmont, there's also a shipping option. “This will allow folks in Colorado and around the country to order our ciders to be delivered directly to their door,” says CEO Cindy Landi. Or check the cidery's list of retailers to see if there's a liquor store near you that carries St. Vrain products.

Landi and her team are making efforts to prevent any spread of coronavirus. St. Vrain has set up a walk-up window for takeout orders, and in bad weather, customers can wait in their cars, or one customer at a time will be allowed inside. “We have timers to remind employees to wash their hands every thirty minutes. We wipe all surfaces, switches and handles down with sanitizer every thirty minutes, we encourage customers to pay via Apple or Google Pay to avoid having to touch credit cards or money, and we have hand sanitizer available for both customers and staff to use when interacting,” she explains.

Landi notes that purchasing gift cards is another way to help local cider businesses.