Lexington is about to get another full-fledged cidery: Wise Bird Cider Co. will open to the public June 7 in the distillery district on Manchester Street.
Tucked onto the Town Branch Creek side of the Pepper campus, Wise Bird has an open tap room with indoor picnic-table seating for 130, plus more patio seating outside under sunshades with windows opening to the weather, perfect for enjoying their crisp hard ciders.
Owners Greta Pittard and Tim Wright, who moved to Lexington from Washington D.C., plan to open with three to five of their own heritage-style ciders on tap, with many more to follow.
They will have a dozen taps, and will feature a cider from Pivot Brewing and local craft beer from Fusion Brewing or Ethereal, both neighbors. They also may offer a hopped cider, which tastes a bit like an IPA.
One of the first of their own on tap will be Ashmead’s Kernel, a single-varietal cider with a dark gold color, fruity and strong at about 8 percent alcohol or higher.
“By the end of the calendar year we should be up to about 10 products. A few will be single varietals, including Ashmead’s, Harrison and Jonathan. The three of those we are hoping to release on opening,” said Wright. “Hidden Creek, which is one we’re naming in honor of Town Branch, is a blend of Stayman, Arkansas Black and a little bit of this Ashmead’s Kernel. And the other flagship with be the first of our Commonwealth Series.”
Whenever possible, they will source apples from Kentucky, Virginia and Ohio growers but when they can get enough from growers just in Kentucky they plan to release the cider as a “Commonwealth Series” brand. The first of those is Commonwealth Gold, made from Goldrush apples from Evans Orchard in Georgetown, he said.
Wise Bird works with orchardists to buy apples when they are ripe. Some apples, like the Arkansas Black, can be stored whole until ready for pressing and fermenting; for early apples, they plan to freeze the fresh-pressed juice until they can ferment it into cider.
The cidery has hired two recent graduates of the state’s nascent alcohol science programs: Laura Cleary of Corbin graduated from the University of Kentucky, where she studied food science and sustainable agriculture and was certified in the UK’s brewing, distilling and wine-making program; Slaid Leatherman of Versailles graduated from Western Kentucky University’s brewing and distilling program.
Wise Bird also is bottling its ciders and plan to have some on sale at select locations around Lexington soon.
Wise Bird is partnering with local businesses, including Barrel House Distilling, which is also at the Pepper campus. Barrel House is taking some of Wise Bird’s cider and distilling it into an apple brandy.
“They’ll keep part of it and we’ll keep part of it,” Pittard said. “They’ll do something crazy with their part of it and we’ll do something crazy with ours.”
Wise Bird plans to make a fortified cider called a pommeau, which they hope to release later this year.
The cidery will have a grand opening on June 29, with live music, food trucks, games on the patio and family friendly activities.
Wise Bird will be open Wednesday through Sunday, with afternoon and evening hours. Eventually they hope to add a weekend brunch. They are working with Martine’s, which will offer sandwiches, salads and soups. And they plan to have food trucks on site on weekends as well.
The cidery also plans to have a kids menu, which was important to Wright and Pittard, who just welcomed their second son. Pittard is on maternity leave from her job as a senior vice president, production, for Wrigley Media Group.