Supreme Core Cider’s 5,000-square-foot production facility and taproom turned 1 this week, and the ambitious local producer has solid proof that fermented apple juice is hotter than ever. One year after opening its doors in Northeast, the company is in position to nearly quadruple its original production.
The drinking destination at 2400 T Street NE debuted last May with three 10-barrel tanks. The company added two more tanks last fall, doubling its capacity. Fueled by a recent $1.22 million investment, production will double again this summer with 60 more barrels brewing hard apple cider sourced from family-owned orchards. That upped production will drive its distribution plan across Maryland and supply more draft lines in D.C. bars.
”The legal/regulatory environment in D.C. gets better and better every year, and is a big driver of what has made this such a great town for craft beverages in the last less-than-decade,” says Will Sullivan, who runs the budding cider company with Kyle Crosby.
Under the Manufacturer and Pub Permit Parity Amendment Act of 2019, Mayor Muriel Bowser is now pitching a series of changes to boost D.C.’s already-booming craft booze scene, particularly its rising cider segment.
”What the mayor is doing now is just expanding the ability to produce and sell a wider range of products,” he says. ”The ability to have a taproom has been huge.”
The next hurdle to ramp up exposure is convincing the city to let homegrown breweries like Supreme open an additional taproom outside of production sites. Based on how current industrial zoning laws are written, out-of-state breweries have free reign to set up brew pubs across the city.
”But if you already manufacture in D.C. you don’t have that right,” he says. The city is structured in industrial clusters in Northeast and Southeast, so that’s where all the producers have to stick around. Supreme’s manufacturing plant sits in Northeast, but if it wanted to do a pop-up on the other side of the city, that would be a no-no.
They’ve been working alongside the D.C. Brewers Guild to introduce a new bill this spring that would allow breweries, wineries, and distilleries to own and operate satellite tavern locations that primarily sell alcohol produced by the manufacturer. OG local brewer DC Brau is also a big proponent of the move.
“We are waiting for a public hearing and mark-up to be scheduled in the Business and Economic Development Committee, which is the next step,” says Paul Dean, executive director of the DC Brewers’ Guild, in an email to Eater this week.
While there are limitations to the current zoning laws, Sullivan says there have been some advantages, too: Ivy City now houses about 10 producers alone, he notes, which has “put a spotlight” on the area.
And Supreme Core’s once-desolate Arboretum neighborhood is now being filled with hardcore cider fans coming through for tours and tastings.
”Arboretum is our Central Park, but it’s not central,” Sullivan says. “It’s largely been unused a long time and we are seeing more visitors come in. It’s cool to see people rediscovering parts of the city they haven’t been.”
Here are some year-over-year changes that have occurred since Supreme Core kicked off business in Arboretum:
- More hours: Tap room hours have expanded from noon to 10 p.m. on Saturdays (formerly until 8 p.m.) and Friday hours will go live in a couple weeks.
- More staff: Supreme Core has tripled staff in its first year, now with 15 tasting associates. There’s now a full-time head of sales overseeing the expansion on the wholesale side and a newly filled marketing and social events manager.
- New food: Supreme Core named next-door neighbor B.Lin Catering its official food partner two months ago, making made-to-order sliders and won tons to pair with beer.
- New distribution deal: The cider company also signed with a new distributor two weeks ago. It’s now in 100-plus locations in the city and growing, as well as in Montgomery County. Find it at the Eleanor, both ChiKo locations, and the soon-to-open C&R NoMa.
- New brews: Midlanticky, a lemon sea salt cider designed for the summer, is released on Thursday, May 16. The team just made updates to its flagship, Pounda Gold. The single variety cider is a new blend that’s more Goldrush apple forward, he says.
- Events: Buyouts to date have included weddings, receptions, corporate tastings, and anniversary parties.
- Differentiation: “We take a lot from the craft beer world to innovate,” Sullivan says, including adding hops and barrel aging. Its new lemon cider rests on fresh lemon peel, he adds. “Other cideries might do things differently, for example focusing more on the apple varieties used to create differentiation,” he says.
“This is still the fastest-growing segment of market — it’s important for people to make good product, is the most important thing, so the category can keep winning fans,” Sullivan says.
To celebrate its first anniversary, Supreme Core is throwing a two-day birthday bash dubbed “Branching Out Fest” on Saturday, May 18, and Sunday, May 19. Each $40 ticket includes a commemorative taster glass, access to a full day of craft cider, craft beer from guest breweries, and live music. There will be collaboration ciders with local fermenters and distilleries and guest breweries from Virginia and New York.
Correction: A previous version of this post identified now-closed Foggy Ridge Cider in Dugspur, Virginia, as a D.C. cidery.