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BS 2007, Fermentation Science
MS 2009, Food Science
Co-owner & Cider Maker
2 Towns Ciderhouse
Every day at 2 Towns Ciderhouse we focus on producing quality local craft cider. Most days are spent monitoring fermentations: checking brix levels and evaluating taste and aroma attributes. We spend a good chunk of time doing sensory evaluation and barrel work, but most of our time is spent cleaning tanks and bottling cider!
Coming up with a new style of cider and bringing it from a crazy idea to reality. Seeing your pet projects actually hit the shelf, and having the freedom to do so is the best part of this job. Having the resources and work environment that allows us to push the bounds of what cider is, that is always fun too.
Fermentation is the best blend of science and art. I have always wanted to become a scientist but I always loved cooking and working with things you can smell, taste, and drink. I started my career home-brewing, and eventually got a job in a brewery. I then moved on to winemaking and when I had the opportunity to become a cidermaker, I jumped at the chance. My first batch of hard cider was a 10 gallon batch that I pressed on my parent’s farm when I was still an undergrad at OSU. We still have that old press hanging out in the tasting room at the Ciderhouse.
I really believe that a firm understanding of the science behind fermentation is important to succeed in today’s industry. Not only has my education at OSU helped me excel in my current job as a cidermaker, but it exposed me to new techniques, technologies, and career opportunities along the way.
Finding new and unique apple varieties is a really fun process. Usually it means visiting an orchard or grower and trying a bunch of different apples off of the tree. Just like winemakers searching for the best grape cultivars, we search for specific old world French and English cider varieties that have the best taste and aroma properties for traditional hard cider. We actually seek out apples that contain high levels of acid, tannins, and other phenolic compounds. I spend a lot of time looking at how to blend these apples after fermentation, and how much barrel aging they should see.
Do you have any advice for people starting out in the craft fermentation world?
Find your passion and follow it. You spend too much time working to not love what you do. Every day I think, “If I didn’t have a job, this is what I would be doing anyway.”