The craft beer scene is Houston, much like every other American metropolis, has exploded with exponential growth and rebellious brewers attempting to push the envelope of beer flavors. We’ve expanded from a city with only a handful of breweries, most notably Saint Arnold Brewery, to brewers rivaling Crossfit gyms for location space. For instance, there’s a new brewery opening up literally 3 blocks from my house called Town In City Brewery Company which I look forward to writing about soon. But this article will focus on the distant cousin of craft beer, craft cider. In fact, it’s the first hard cider company to ever be based in Houston.
I discovered the world of cider more in depth about 2 years ago when my wife convinced me to start living a little healthier. Changing to a diet that is low on sugar, grain, and gluten makes it damn near impossible to enjoy beer in any way and the gluten-free beer options you will find are mostly lackluster to say the least. Then one day while walking through our local farmers market a sales vendor handed me a sample of Leprechaun Dry Cider after explaining it was gluten free. He later also explained that is was a local Houston company which peaked my interest even further. My opinion about cider was flipped much like my opinion about beer the first time I had an IPA years ago.
“You mean to tell me that this crisp cider is local, easier on my diet, AND 7% ABV! SOLD.”
The artful branding on their bottles is very well done too; makes me think of what Stone Brewing Company would do if they made cider. So now I had some homework to do; how did I go unaware that there was a Houston-based cidery creating such a great product? Leprechaun’s founder, Jake Schliffer, was inspired by his travels overseas where cider making is much more of a passion and culture and wished to re-create that experience here in America.
Cider Made In The Texas Heat?
Now, you might be thinking, “How do they compete with the ciders of northern American states where the best apples are grown?” Even though Leprechaun is a Houston company, they’ve moved production as close as possible to the Western border of Vermont where you can find the absolute best cider apples. This is where they create their beautiful bubbly in the most modern facilities, actually hand-picking their apples, and cutting no costs. My favorite aspect of the company is that they focus on only using two varieties of apples, they understand that customers are more informed today and quality matters, zero preservatives or additives. This is truly a drink you need to try the next time you find one on tap or store shelves.
Leprechaun has a few flavor varieties now including Golden, Pomegranate, and Dry Cider. They’re all good but I prefer the classic Dry “European Style” cider, especially in this Texas heat. It’s not as sweet, very crisp and refreshing, and I suggest you pair it with some grilled fish or a salad. BOOM!
Lastly, I’d like to point out that Leprechaun was not founded by some old boring conglomerate looking to squeeze an extra buck out of your alcohol budget. The Founder, Jake Schiffer, started the company in his 20’s a hit the ground running. It’s not just a great story about something new to drink but also a great lesson in passionate entrepreneurship.
So go out and find some Leprechaun Cider on store shelves or on tap, you can thank me later. When the company began they only sold in kegs and 22 ounce bomber bottles but they’ve recently added 12 ounce four-packs to the mix. Cheers to the beer… uh, I mean cider this time!