We recently looked at various approaches craft breweries have been taking to diversify their product offering beyond beer. We subdivided the topic a few different ways and still couldn’t quite fit in the prolific profile of 2 Towns Cidery and Nectar Creek Meadery. Their decade-old partnership and approach to niche craft beverages is more relevant and boundary-busting than ever.
2 Towns Ciderhouse has been around since 2010, launched by long-time childhood friends Lee Larsen and Aaron Sarnoff-Wood who were inspired by their travels through Europe to take advantage of their access to Pacific Northwest apples in Corvallis, Ore. and launch a cidery.
In 2012, 2 Towns did its first facility upgrade into the space (the Tap Room and specialty Cellar it is in to this day). Meanwhile, friends of the 2 Towns owners, Phillip and Nick Lorenz, launched Nectar Creek Meadery in the original 2 Towns facility. In 2020, 2 Towns acquired Nectar Creek. Today, both 2 Towns and Nectar Creek are produced in the same facility–using the same craft fermentation philosophy of sourcing quality ingredients, using real fruit, and applying no shortcuts.
“Since mead is much more of a niche product (with a very loyal and devout customer base), its annual capacity is smaller than 2 Towns,” they tells us. “We see growth potential in both beverage categories but at a different scale. We are seeing that consumers are gravitating towards craft beverages that prioritize quality ingredients and full flavor and are willing to try a new beverage category if it meets that criteria.”
We had to ask: In this time of beyond beer / RTDs/ canned cocktails is an historic niche beverage like mead (fermented honey first enjoyed by sea-faring Vikings and ancient royalty) finding new life?
“You are onto something and yes, we are seeing a renewed interest in meads,” Phillip says. “Consumers are prioritizing flavor and quality ingredients and are willing to diversify and expand their palate into more unique, or legendary, products if it is from a brand they trust.”
Mead too is a canvas for flavor innovation. Spanning from the traditional to the unique, Nectar Creek Meadery launched its first-ever premium Cellar Series line with Festoon, a plum and hibiscus mead, that is packaged in cans and with a new look. The first in the series, Festoon, a peculiar “chain” of bees hanging between comb during the building season, uses Crimson hibiscus flowers, delicate aromatic honey and red plums.
“Festoon is the perfect mead to kick off our Nectar Creek Cellar Series line,” Phillip said. “The rich, sweet, delicious ripe red plum juice combines bee-utifully with a floral hibiscus nose, layered on top of local white clover honey.”
Of course, why stop at ciders and meads?
2 Towns also has a successful canned cocktail side project of its own too, Craftwell Cocktails, and also just expanded into hard teas, with TeaREX Killer Tea. Original Hard Tea is crafted with the finest black tea and local PNW honey. Lemon Hard Tea is crafted with the finest black tea, West Coast lemons, and a touch of local PNW honey.
“The hard tea category is experiencing explosive growth and we thought why not take our mantra of carefully sourced, quality ingredients from our ciders and apply that to hard tea,” said Lee Larsen. “TeaREX is distinctly fun, unique, and positioned to appeal to consumers looking for a higher ABV option that’s proudly brewed in the Pacific Northwest.“
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