Talbott's: Something to be ExCidered About
By Kristian Hartter
The history of Talbott's goes back to 1907 when Joseph Evan Yeager, Charles Talbott's great-great-great grandfather was one of the first to plant trees and cut canals into the Palisade soil. Fast forward 108 years to 2015, and Charles and his cousin Christopher Leader start hard cider production with a philosophy of using all-natural ingredients and never compromising quality to make a buck. The first couple of years were filled with learning on the job and growth with the help of several established companies in the state including Palisade Brewing Company and Breckenridge Brewery. Early this year, winemaker Rainer Thoma, formerly of Grand River Vineyards, joined the team. It may seem odd to have a winemaker at a cider company, but the process is more like making wine than beer. Through all of the growth and change of the past 4 years, one thing has not changed and that is a dedication to quality and tradition.
The main offerings from Talbott's are all quite good, from the Scrappy Apple Dry cider to the Rafter IPC Hopped cider to the amazing Summer Sunset Peach cider. There is not one in the bunch that doesn't deliver on flavor and drinking satisfaction. But what is really exciting to me are the exclusive taproom offerings that the cidery is producing: bourbon, gin, and tequila barrel aging of select ciders and the 100% cider-apple Harry Masters Jersey Cider. The latter was my favorite when I went in to interview Charles and try his current wares. Most ciders on the market are actually made with dessert apples, like Red Delicious, Fuji, or Granny Smith, which are lower in acid than cider apples. There is also a matter of production quantity in that there are simply more dessert apples available on the market making them much cheaper to obtain and make cider with. This access to a 100% cider-variety cider is something special.
The Harry Masters Jersey Cider is more akin to a sour beer than most ciders are. It is complex, due partially to the fact it is oaked, partially to the choice of a traditional saison yeast for fermentation, and due partially to the fact that the apples used are more complex themselves. It is a beautiful deep copper color and has notes of caramel and oak in the nose. It is dry, tart, clean and complex. Flavors of apple skins and flesh are prominent and the result is a cider that sets itself apart from the standard offerings.
While this cider is currently only available at the taproom, which is a great place to visit even without this particular incentive, there are plans to release this and some few other one-off ciders in 750ml cork-and-cage bottles in December of this year. In the meantime head out for one of the monthly live music shows or just to try some epic cider or to have a tour, which is offered on a drop in basis when there is someone available to lead the tour, which is most of the time. Slainte.
Kristian Hartter hosts Beer Geeks on KAFM radio, teaches beer appreciation at WCCC, and is a member of the Grand Junction Commission of Arts and Culture.