Fierce County Cider opens in Puyallup. Here’s a first look
Fierce County Cider opened its public taproom today (Sept. 24) in South Hill.
For now, Fierce County Cider will serve to the public Thursdays through Saturdays.
The cidery resides in an industrial space at 9918 162nd St. Ct. E., which is across from Thun Field.
Fierce County Cider is nestled right in the middle of South Hill’s retail area, which is heavy on dining choices. There’s everything from pancakes to Thai to Szechuan Chinese and three taquerias within a few miles of the tasting room.
Packaged light meals – salads, chips and sandwiches – are served on site, but co-owners Tolena and John Thorburn encourage visitors to bring their own food.
Fun tip: Original Pancake House is steps away and if you were going to pair any of their ciders with pancakes, Tolena, the cidery’s brewer, suggested choosing an apple-cinnamon pancake to pair with the cidery’s flagship Gin Gin Cran.
But, seriously, there are so many dining choices in the surrounding area that would pair exceptionally well with Fierce County ciders. Check out the nearby Rose Garden Chinese restaurant’s Szechuan menu, the tacos at Picazo’s Taco Zone, the burritos at Los Amigos Taqueria, any of the pizzas or pastas at newly opened Costella’s Italian Restaurant and Market and the brisket at South Hill Po-Boy & Bar-B-Q.
THREE YEARS IN THE MAKING
This is a huge move for Fierce County Cider. With their ciders in high demand, at places such as Total Wine and Wingman Brewers, they knew it was time to scale up the size of their three-year-old home-based cidery.
And boy did they scale up. The new space is 2,600 square feet, which is a massive upgrade from the 97-square-feet space that formerly housed their tiny system at their South Hill home.
All that extra room has allowed them to move from a three-barrel system to a 10-barrel system. Ciders produced in the South Hill facility will be sold in bottles through Total Wine. Local spots, such as Rainier Growlers, CaskCades and Wingman Brewers, also serve Fierce County ciders at their tasting rooms. The facility also will allow the Thorburns to sell growlers and bottles (when they increase their supplies) directly to consumers.
FIERCE COUNTY TASTING ROOM
The working cidery comes with well-spaced tables and a family-friendly vibe where kids are most definitely allowed (and encouraged).
For those interested in how cider is made, this is the place to view that work. The cidery equipment is on display from the seating area and the Thorburns expertly answer questions about how they make their cider.
The tasting room typically would seat around 47, but in keeping with current pandemic restrictions, they will allow up to 23 visitors spread out among a wide variety of seating that ranges from picnic tables to high-top seating with stools.
When visitors are on site, the Thorburns roll up the garage doors, which allows for extra air circulation in the space and might make some feel a bit better about indoor dining. They also have seating for about 14 outside and they do have the ability to pop up a temporary shelter if rain is in the forecast.
Here’s something cool for beer drinkers accompanying their favorite cider fan. Three Wingman brews are on tap at the cidery. The cidery has a close partnership with Wingman and the Thorburns credit Wingman co-owner Ken Thoburn with helping them build their company.
THE CIDERS ON TAP
The opening list includes the flagship ciders: Boysen Apple, Gin Gin Cran and Rosé. Their flagship Mango will be returning soon. They’ve also got two seasonal ciders: their Shortcake and their Friday the 13th, which is their 2019 Gourdian of the Galaxy that they aged for a year.
Aging the pumpkin cider was a total experiment and they had no idea how it would turn out. “We set aside a keg last year to age it and see how it turned out,” explained John. “No matter what happened to it, we thought we’d serve it when we opened.”
The result? “It’s actually really nice,” said John. “Just like with beer and wine, you can age it and it evolves and changes.”
Added Tolena, the cidery’s taste maker, the flavor evolves. She likes that the pumpkin has mellowed over the last year, moving the apple flavor and spices a bit more forward.
“When we made it, it had the pumpkin and the spices and you tasted both. As it ages, it goes through another fermentation and the pumpkin gets eaten up in that process.” What’s left behind is a very apple-forward tart cider with a nice backbone of pumpkin pie spices. If it’s on tap on your visit, it’s the first thing you should order.
Tolena’s focus is always on the fruit. “If you have good fruit going in, you don’t need to add sugar. It doesn’t need to be sweet. You let the fruit shine,” she explained of their ciders, which for newcomers, can best be described as modestly sweet. “We lean to the middle of the scale on sweet versus dry. If anything, we lean more toward the dry side than sweet,” explained John.
As Tolena notes, their inclusion of luscious, intensely fruity flavors, such as boysenberries and raspberries, tricks the palate into thinking their ciders are sweeter than they are.
As she describes her ciders, “Berries can trick you. It draws conclusions in your head. Using natural fruit to flavor natural apple is what we love about it. You don’t have to rely on sugar to do that flavoring.”
They source their juices from producers in Central and Eastern Washington and then ferment the juice with a wide range of secondary fruits and spices, when applicable.
WHICH CIDERS ARE COMING NEXT
The 2020 Gourdian of the Galaxy is a work in progress. Also coming up is the holiday seasonal that is perfect for every Thanksgiving table – the Everything Nice, which is a mulled-style cider.
Expect a larger lineup of seasonals as they experiment on their larger system. One thing Tolena said she’s looking forward to is “tinkering.” She envisions the ability to brew a large batch of cider, then break down that cider into smaller batches with different fruit add-ins per batch.
“With greater flexibility and greater volume, one of the things that John pushes me to do, but I can’t do in our 97-square-feet space, is to do a series of flavors. Like taking our mango and adding pineapple or raspberries. I can use a common base but then have them try all the flavors side by side. In our new space, we can do fun iterations of things,” explained Tolena.
For those who aren’t quite ready to dine in yet, be sure to check out the cidery’s growler fill program. Their soft opening hours, which could change in the future so be sure to check social, will be 4-8 p.m. Thursday and Friday and 2-8 p.m. Saturday.
FIERCE COUNTY CIDER
Where: 9918 162nd St. Ct. E., Puyallup
COSTELLA’S ITALIAN RESTAURANT AND MARKET IN SOUTH HILL IS NOW OPEN
Did you hear that Costella’s, the Italian restaurant and market, is now open in South Hill? Read all about that here.