Urban Orchard Cider Company is set to provide Asheville with a dedicated space for celebrating that quintessential fall fruit — the apple. The family-owned company will kick off the soft opening of its new Haywood Road cider bar on Thursday, Oct. 24, with a grand opening slated for Wednesday, Oct. 30.
Co-owner Thom Miller says guests can expect to find three varieties of naturally gluten-free hard cider on tap year-round, including very dry, ginger and traditional English. A fourth tap will rotate seasonal and experimental ciders — Miller says cranberry-apple and pumpkin-spice flavors will highlight autumn. “We experiment with yeasts all the time and different flavors,” says Miller. He notes that during the first week or two after the doors open, Urban Orchard might rotate in as many as five different kinds of ciders.
According to Marketing and Creative Director Jeff Anderson, the cider company may expand to as many as eight taps in the future serving “super-creative stuff.” Wine will also be available, in addition to four beer taps that that will regularly rotate a selection of local brands.
For those who don't want to drink their cider on an empty stomach, Urban Orchard's tasting room will offer snack options, such as cheese plates, sausage, crackers, dips and baked goods from local purveyors including West End Bakery, Hickory Nut Gap Farm, True South, Roots and Branches, Cave Age Cheeses and Short Street Cakes, to name a few.
Urban Orchard is, according to Anderson, the only cider bar in North Carolina and one of only two in the U.S. that both makes and serves its own hard cider. Anderson says owners Thom, Lori and Brody Miller and Josie Mielke have spent the past few months trying to turn the space — previously a meeting hall for the Communications Workers of America — into a place conducive to socializing and relaxation. “It's going to be a really warm environment for sure,” he says, noting that the interior will feature “an all-handmade mix of metal and wood.”
Anderson was reluctant to disclose too much before the doors open, but he does say the tasting room features a large window in front of the bar that will allow customers a nice view, along with tables and a lounge area decorated with some unique chandeliers. “It'll definitely be a good place for people to come and hang out,” he says. The cidery is located on the floor below the tasting space, and tours will be available upon request.
The company sources only locally grown apples and is now in an experimental phase of working with two Hendersonville farms — Odell Barnwell and Sons and Apple Wedge Packers — to grow, pick and press all the fruit it uses in the cidery. Eventually it will narrow that down to only one of the farms, based on pasteurization practices and specific blends of apple species available from each.
Urban Orchard will join Black Mountain Ciderworks, McRitchie Winery and Ciderworks and Noble Hard Cider in the WNC Green Building Council's first annual CiderFest NC event on Sunday, Nov. 10, in Weaverville. Urban Orchard will present a Hard Cider 101 workshop and will dispense some of their brew to the public.
Urban Orchard will be open 3-11 p.m. Tuesday-Sunday and is located at 210 Haywood Road. For more information, call 779-6372 or look for “Urban Orchard Cider Company and Bar” on Facebook.