Stem Ciders: Perfecting the Perfect Cider

From the orchard to the glass, the cider-making process is a carefully executed process.

Oct. 2019Written by Kyle TrompeterPhotography by Kyle Trompeter

outside garden view of steel stem ciders facility overlooking a field on a sunny day with blue skies
steel divoted fermentation tanks besides pallets of cider and a blue hydraulic lift in a warehouse
stainless steel cross flow filtration system with complex plumbing and tubing
stainless steel cider-chilling bright tanks in a warehouse
large metal cider canning machinery equipment in a concrete warehouse
yellow cans being rotated 180 degrees by extending large metal can conveyor machinery in a warehouse
yellow aluminum cans being filled with cider as they move through automated metal machinery with a digital screen
yellow aluminum cans being fitted with tops as they move through automated metal machinery
yellow aluminum cans move through automated metal machinery into a washer that cleans and sanitizes the cans
woman in grey sweatshirt bounds and groups yellow aluminum cans of cider into cardboard boxes in a concrete warehouse
man wraps plastic around a pallet of yellow aluminum cider cans being prepared for distribution in a warehouse
bearded man in green shirt filled half-sized aluminum kegs with cider from tubing  directly from stainless steel tanks
numbered and labeled wooden bourbon whiskey barrels with either natural, turquoise and white stained tops aligned in rows on a metal rack
female employee with long brown hair and glasses wearing a navy shirt pours cider from one out of the many stem cider tap handles on a draft system

Stem Ciders sources their apples from Washington state. A driver makes continuous round trips to the Evergreen State to bring freshly pressed apples back to the cidery.

Upon arrival, the juice is pumped into two-6,300 gallon fermenters, where it's mixed with wine yeast and ferments for 6-7 days. The juice typically ferments at a temperature range of 56-58 degrees.

After fermentation, the cider is transferred to the cross-flow filtration system, where apple particles and yeast are removed from the juice.

After filtration, the cider is transferred to the bright tanks, where the cider gets chilled to around 34 degrees, and forced carbonation occurs to give the cider the desired bubbles. This process takes a few days.

Finally, it's time for the packaging process.

First, the cans are flipped upside down and rinsed so they can be sanitized.

Then, a presser fills the cans with cider.

The lids are then sealed tightly shut onto the cans.

The cans then coast through a "car wash" style cleanser.

Then the cans are bound together.

And finally, the cans are prepped for distribution.

Some of the cider goes straight into the kegs.

And other cider is sent to the barrel room for aging in whiskey and wine barrels.

Stem Ciders is known for having dry ciders. There's no added sugar. The ingredients are all natural. The end result is a range of high-quality ciders that are completely authentic and endlessly drinkable.

Despite being one of the world’s oldest beverages, cider is still misunderstood and that can make selling cider a challenge. At its most basic, cider is simply fermented apple juice.

Cider, however, is no basic beverage, and Stem Ciders is no basic cider brand. In a relatively short time, Colorado’s Stem Ciders has built one of the industry’s finest operations, producing with a wide variety of unique cider offerings.

We wanted to learn more about the cider-making process, so we spent some time with Head Cidermaker Ian Capps to find out how Stem Ciders produces their award-winning brand.

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