Grizzly Ciderworks gets more than inspiration from craft beer

Yes, the Washington Beer Blog’s focus remains on beer, but we enjoy craft cider and do not mind sharing cider info with you from time to time. Especially when a cider story relates directly to craft beer.

Grizzly Ciderworks opened this past summer with the intention of bridging the gap between cider and beer. We stopped by the tasting room and cidery the other day and were suitably impressed. Indeed their vision is sound: these are beer-inspired ciders that appealed to our better craft beer sensibilities. They will help to introduce cider lovers to the flavors of beer and beer lovers to the flavors of cider. Grizzly is having a release party this Thursday, December 12 at Capitol Cider in Seattle to introduce its newest creation: Hopclaw (read about it below).

Co-founders Corey Haugen and Andy Petek describe themselves as beer lovers who have dabbled in homebrewing and considered pursuing the craft beer dream of opening a brewery, but ultimately found themselves drawn in a different direction. The decision to produce beer-inspired ciders is purely a function of Corey and Andy producing ciders that they themselves want to drink. It is not a calculated effort to fill a niche: it just so happens they really enjoy dry-hopped ciders.

Exactly what do I mean when I say, “Beer-inspired cider?” To begin with, Grizzly’s ciders are dry. If the big beer brands (Bud, Coors Light, etc) are watery and light, then the big cider brands are oppressively sweet. If you want your cider to appeal to craft beer drinkers, dry is a good place to start. We are not used to all of the sugary sweetness. Grizzly’s ciders are refreshingly dry.

Grizzly Co-Founders – Andy and Corey.


Next, think about familiar craft beer flavors. This is cider first and foremost, but beer lovers will taste something familiar. This primarily comes from the use of hops. Grizzly Ciderworks prides itself on its dry-hopped ciders, and wants to be known as masters of that craft, but they realize there’s more to it than that. For example, they use beer yeast in at least one of their siders (thus far, anyway).

Another beery attribute, this cider is only available on tap. Grizzly Ciderworks shares a production facility and tasting room with Vessel Wines, a local producer of kegged wine. Laws being what they are, Vessel and Grizzly can actually share the same space, utilizing Vessel’s kegging equipment to package Grizzly’s ciders. Unlike other cider makers who focus primarily on bottles, Grizzly is coming out of the gate as a draft product, intended to stand side by side with craft beer taps.


Also like the craft beer we love, and most of the other craft ciders we love, Grizzly Ciderworks knows the importance of quality ingredients and uses nothing but juice from local, reputable growers. In other words, no container loads of “apple juice product” coming in from China. They make cider using nothing but good, locally sourced ingredients.

Here are my descriptions of two of Grizzly’s offerings, which I found to be especially beery:

Grizzly Bruin – This cider is dry-hopped with significant quantities of Willamette hops. Molasses and brown sugar give Bruin a golden-brown hue (it almost looks like beer), and provide just enough body to balance out the hops. The cider is not sweet and it is definitely hoppy, but the molasses and sugar mitigate any overwhelming bitterness or astringency. Truth is, hops can totally overwhelm a cider if you aren’t smart and careful. The Bruin’s significant hop character finishes nice and soft on the palate.

Grizzly Hopclaw – This cider uses a selection of three different hops to add serious floral and citrus character. All three of the hop varieties are familiar to craft beer lovers: Cascade, Centennial and Chinook. What really makes Hopclaw stand out is the use of saison yeast. I’m not sure how to describe this cider, except to say that it tastes exactly like what it is: a dry-hopped cider fermented with saison yeast. It’s quite remarkable, especially the fragrance. You can taste it with your nose and smell it with your mouth.

Hopclaw Release Party
Thursday, December 12, 7:00 p.m.
Captiol Cider
818 E Pike St
Seattle, WA 98122

Hopclaw Ciderworks (cidery and tasting room)
19405 144th Ave. NE, Bldg D
Woodinville, WA 98072
(425) 298-5760

Tasting room open Thursday through Saturday
(check with them for exact hours)

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