Boys from Bates create hard cider company
Recent Bates College graduates Ben Manter, Tyler Mosher and Ross Brockman own and operate their own hard cider company, Downeast Cider, based out of Waterville. The cider is made from high quality ingredients and is currently available on draft in a number of bars and pubs, including Mainely Brews.
When three friends from the Bates College Class of 2011 were facing graduation last year, Ben Manter was looking to go into dentistry, Ross Brockman was planning to pursue real estate and Tyler Mosher was pretty sure he would be selling software in California. How wrong they were.
A fateful dinner conversation with Mosher’s parents, completely changed the gruop’s post-graduation plans. After graduating in the spring, the three men moved to Waterville and become entrepreneurs in their own hard cider business, Downeast Cider.
According to the trio, the marked for hard cider abroad, especially in the United Kingdom, is growing rapidly, while the options back home remain limited. “There are the big guys, but they don’t make good cider,” Brockman said, “and there are the little guys—the hobbyists—but they’re making apple champagne.”
Downeast Cider is striving to find its place between the two by competing with the big cider names like Woodchuck and Angry Orchard and providing the goods without artificial sweeteners and apple juice from concentrate, which is used in most mass produced brands, Brockman said.
“We’re using high quality ingredients,” Brockman said, and he’s happy to see that “a lot of people in Maine are focusing on buying local.” Manter grew up on an apple orchard down the road in Vassalboro, Maine.
The co-founders sold their first pint at Mainely Brews in downtown Waterville in early January. They now have 24 accounts in bars across Maine, and they are still growing. Although Downeast Cider is currently only available on draught, the next step is to package specialty bottles of the cider and then to can it. They hope to start selling their product in New Hampshire soon, and to move into the Boston market after that.
So how did three liberal arts students actually create a cider house? They found a big space on Water Street and purchased the fermentation tanks. The apples come from Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner, Maine. It sounds simple, but Brockman said it took a lot of trial and error to reach their Original Blend. “I think it was [trial] number 65 when we hit upon the one,” Brockman said.
He said he and his co-founders have enjoyed the process of starting a business and making cider. “It’s a really rewarding process,” Brockman said. “Our work is pretty directly correlated with our lives right now.”
The Cider House is located downtown at 8 Water Street—if anyone wants to check it out, find the co-founders’ contact information on their website, www.downeastcider.com.