Nestled in the back of a business park off of highway 34 right before one would cross the Willamette into Corvallis, 2Towns Ciderhouse is the creation of Cider Maker Lee Larsen. Everything might seem all puppies and rainbows from my previous posts, but believe me, Lee is a man with problems. Tons of them. Luckily for him, they're all good problems. Where do I even begin?
Having grown up with a father who is a hobbyist small-production winemaker, Lee was familiar with what it took to create fermented beverages. Knowing that creating wine is rather expensive and time-consuming, Lee's wife purchased him a home brewing kit a few years ago and that's what started it all. Small extract beers turned into more complicated batches and then eventually dabbling in cider for fun. When he realized brewing was something he was passionate about, the time eventually came to make a decision. Should he open a brewery? He could, but one can throw a stone from almost any point in the Willamette Valley and hit a microbrewery. With competition fierce, discussions lead to starting a cider company. It was a gamble, but one this full-time financial analyst thought was worth taking.
Obviously, one of the most important ingredients for creating traditional cider is the apple. 2Towns, however, doesn't have an apple orchard. Luckily, one great problem about acquiring apples is that their either relatively cheap (especially compared to wine grapes) or absolutely free. That's right, some people who own apple trees will literally beg people to come and take away their apples. One of these folks with an apple problem happens to be Oregon State University. You see, they have a Food Science program and said program has a test orchard. With not much to do with said apples once they're grown, OSU has agreed to create a partnership with 2Towns where they work with the students who then produce the exact type of apples Lee wants. They also let him use their artisan press. If that doesn't seem overwhelming, things get worse.
Lee's next (good) problem has been his facility. While he initially believed that two 500 gallon fermenters would hold him over for two years, it turns out his conservative approach to purchasing equipment became a (good) problem in itself. After two months into his two year investment, production and demand outgrew his initial forecast. Some financial analyst he is! Confronted with the (good) problem of needing to make more cider, one row of fermenters had to be replaced with the steel beasts you see on the left. Oh and the remaining plastic tanks on the right? Those are either gone at this point or soon to be replaced by one more steel tank. Notice that they're kind of out of room? They pretty much are, which is why it sounds like their landlord is willing to make them built-to-suit space in an expansion project already in the works. They probably won't even have to build their own walk-in refrigeration unit this time.
Much of what fueled the previously mentioned (good) problem is the incredibly large distribution 2Towns benefits from for being such a new company. Want to pick up some cider and don't live in Corvallis? No problem! 2Towns distributes to over 60 stores in the Willamette Valley and increasingly more in Eastern Oregon. You can even order some online and they'll ship it to you!
They even do events:
Thursday, July 14
5:30pm Tasting at Wine Styles -Corvallis, OR
Saturday, July 16
3:00pm Tasting at Corvallis Market of Choice, -Corvallis, OR
Saturday, July 16
4pm-close A specialty 2Towns cider keg will be Tapped at Flattail Brewpub, -Corvallis, OR
Tuesday, July 19
6:00pm Promo Night at Suds & Suds -Corvallis, OR
Saturday July 30th
3:30-7pm Philomath Uncorked Wine Walk -Downtown Philomath, OR
Sunday, July 31
7:00pm Tasting at Moonlight & Music Festival -Brownsville, OR
Wed, August 3rd
2:30pm-9pm Taste of the County at the Benton County Fair, -Corvallis, OR
Sunday, August 7
11:30am Tasting at Albany Criterium Bike Race! -Albany, OR
September 2nd, 3rd, 4th
Bounty of Benton County Weekend - 2 Towns Ciderhouse will be at Afton Field Farms, -Corvallis, OR
October 6th, 2011
6:00pm Promo night at American Dream Pizza- Downtown Crowbar -Corvallis, OR
Raffles, Prizes, Schwag, and At least Four Seasonals On Tap!!!
Coupled with an incredibly supportive family, friends with a wide array of skills willing to pitch in, and unlimited growth potential in an untapped market, I don't know what other (good) problems Lee could face. What I do know is that 2Towns Ciderhouse is ran by some of the nicest people I've met in the industry and their enthusiasm towards what they do is unrivaled. Definitely do yourself a favor by checking out their cider. Heck, by the time you read this, it will probably be on tap at your local pub anyway.