Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Cider Talk with Broken Nose Cider Maker Paul Cade

A few weeks back we stopped in to visit the Begyle Brewing taproom and were excited to find Chicago's newest cidery, Broken Nose, not only on draft, but sharing the location for cider production. We had the pleasure of talking with owner and cider maker, Paul Cade. We loved his story – homebrewer, turned cider apprentice, turned professional cider maker, on a mission to bring European-style ciders to urban Chicago. But beyond that, the cider we tasted was beautiful, complex and dry. Attributes we aren't yet seeing a whole lot of in US made cider. 

This Thursday, December 17th he will be at the Begyle Taproom for a meet and great, as well as a sampling of his three current ciders. All will be available on draft to purchase or take home in a growler. These European-style ciders are perfect for holiday meal pairing, so we hope you'll stop by and taste for yourself.

Can you tell us about your background and what let to the passion for cider making?
Well I guess it started when I was a home brewer, back in 2010. I was lucky enough to try a bottle of tasty English cider – to this day I can't remember what kind of cider – but I do remember loving the sourness, the dryness and the flavor. It was like nothing I had ever had before. From there I kept trying ciders, but was incredibly disappointed in most of the U.S. ciders that I tried. As a home brewer I thought to myself "If I can't find any ciders that I want to buy, I'll make my own." The first ciders that I made were, quite frankly, terrible, but that idea started me on this 5 year journey.

How would you describe the objectives you see for Broken Nose as an urban cidery?
Well, being an urban cidery is pretty unique. Historically cider was made by farmers as way to store their apples and to maybe add value. Even today I think that for the most part cider making is a rural endeavor and that the best cider is being made where the apples are grown. However I strongly believe that even though most of the best ciders are made by orchardists, being an orchardist it is not a prerequisite to making great cider. I think that with some care when it comes to sourcing raw materials and a good understanding of fermentation we can make world class cider right here is Chicago.

What was your experience like making cider in France and England and what has the biggest takeaway you're applying to your cider making now?
It was an incredible experience. I met incredible people, worked hard and had some of the best cider I have ever tried. I think that the biggest single takeaway was the palette that I developed. Just being exposed to those ciders and drinking them at least once, if not three times a day, every day for months really gave me an understanding of what I liked and didn't like in ciders. That has really brought me to where I am today. If going to Europe did nothing else, it gave me the ability to know when cider isn't up to snuff. Now this can be a bad thing too, because it's been about three years since I got back from Europe and Im just now making ciders that really impress me.

What influence has your experience as Cellarman for Begyle Brewing contributed to starting a business yourself?
It's been really incredible watching Brendan, Kevin and Matt run Begyle. The biggest thing that I have taken away from watching them is that making a great product is only part of the equation, you also have to be able to get it to people, and that is harder than it sounds. Luckily Begyle is helping me get my cider to people and that is amazingly helpful!

What projects or experiments are you most excited about in the upcoming year?
Mixed culture fermentations. This is really the future, and the past, of cider making. All the ciderys that I worked on in Europe had amazing microbiological cultures built up from years, if not centuries, of cider making. These cultures are the reason for the incredible complexity of good European ciders. And that is something that we are really trying to master.

If there was one cider or cider style that was a turning point for you as a drinker, do you recall what it was?
Well there was that first one I tried that I can't remember, and I think that I was very lucky to have a great cider as my first, because so many people write off ciders because the first one they tried wasn't good. I could have been one of those people who dismissed all ciders, but like I say I was lucky. The next time I had a great cider was at Owen and Engine over on Western. This was important because it made me realize that the first cider wasn't a fluke or a dream, there really was good cider out there! That one was a French cider and if I remember correctly it was Cidre Bouché from Domaine Dupont. That cider really made me realize that Europe was the place to go to if I wanted to learn to make great cider.

Broken Nose Cider is currently producing three ciders – Old Hat, their flagship cider with crab apples, Bright Lights hopped cider and Bog City cranberry cider. They are on tap at Begyle Brewing which is located at 1800 W Cuyler Ave in Chicago's North Center neighborhood, just steps off the CTA's Irving Park Brown Line stop.

Meet Paul and sample Broken Nose ciders tomorrow, December 17th and their "Meet the Cider Makerevent. 7pm, Begyle Brewing Taproom, 1800 W Cuyler Ave, Chicago. No charge to get in, all ciders will be on tap to purchase, including growlers to go.