Kate Headley

Supreme Core Craft Cider is the second cidery to plant roots in D.C. By definition, cideries are considered wineries, but Supreme Core’s ciders are primed to appeal more to beer drinkers.

Because there are fewer than 1,000 cideries in the U.S. compared to more than 6,000 breweries and more than 9,000 wineries, cider tends to get roped into one of those two camps. It’s a false dichotomy, as “cider is really its own thing,” according to Supreme Core co-founder Kyle Crosby. “In all technical terms sure, it’s a winery—you’re using fruit juice to create an alcoholic product—but it’s got its own tradition, its own history.”

Crosby and his business partner Will Sullivan see their cider being placed in the beer camp, and they’re fine with that. They recognize cider as its own distinct product, but they also recognize the moment unfiltered, unpasteurized cider is having. A similar trend occurring with beer is the explosion of unfiltered hazy or “juicy” India Pale Ales sometimes called New England or NE IPA.

“In terms of the innovation and expanding and making the U.S. the center of gravity for creativity and the craft beer market, we really see just a great opportunity to do similar things with cider,” Sullivan says.

One of Supreme Core’s drafts, The Idun, was actually produced with Right Proper Brewing Company and uses heather, juniper, and mugwort. Its name is a reference to the Nordic goddess of the apple. They also fermented the graff—a beer and cider hybrid—with a Norwegian strain of yeast. The yeast was originally cultured from decomposing apples in Scandinavia, according to Crosby.

Hoppy beer fans will flock to Supreme Core’s Nother Mother cider. It’s dry-hopped (meaning the hops are added after fermentation) with Amarillo, Cascade, and Citra hops. The introduction of fresh grapefruit peels make the cider especially citrusy. You’d be hard pressed to find a wine with grapefruit peels or hops, and so the beer camp comparison puts Nother Mother closer to a pale ale than a Pinot Gris. 

Supreme Core also cans and bottles its products in addition to serving cider on draft. They have a dry finish and are crisper and firmer on the palate than mass-marketed ciders, which trend towards a sweeter palate. A product like Newton’s Folly, found at Trader Joe’s, tastes more like candied apples than freshly picked tart fruit.

All of Supreme Core’s juice comes from a variety of Virginia apples. Producers blend the juice with yeast before putting it into fermentation vessels. Sullivan says his product is 100 percent apple juice with no water or sugar added.

Supreme Core’s “Touch of Wisdom” series features ciders aged in spirit barrels, a technique that’s exceedingly popular in the beer industry. They’ve used Sagamore rye whiskey casks and One Eight Distilling gin barrels. Crosby recommends comparing and contrasting the cidery’s first cider, Micawber, that was made in stainless steel against the same cider that spent time in the rye whiskey casks.

There are several ways to try Supreme Core Cider. It’s sold in stores like Cordial Craft Wine, Beer, & Spirits and Craft Beer Cellar, as well as in their taproom located at 2400 T St. NE. The taproom is open weekends from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Fifteen of the cidery’s 16 draft lines are dedicated to cider, with the final tap reserved for Junius Coffee’s signature cold brew.

Supreme Core is also available at the FRESHFARM Dupont Circle farmers market every other Sunday. The next opportunity to try some is June 17. The cidery donates a portion of their sales to the market’s Food Access Program.

The cidery recently brought on Erich Streckfuss, an award-winning local home-brewer who most recently left his assistant brewer position at District ChopHouse to pursue full-time cider production at Supreme Core.

With three 10-barrel tanks and two 30-barrel tanks coming soon, Supreme Core will need to keep cranking it out of the cellar to keep the business successfully running. They are self-distributed throughout D.C. and Sullivan says they will begin distribution to Montgomery County, their first distribution outside of D.C., this summer. 

Supreme Core Cider, 2400 T St. NE; (202) 215-5029; supremecorecider.com