- Associated Press - Sunday, August 16, 2015

SPRINGDALE, Ark. (AP) - That apple juice-like taste of commercial ciders, the ones with fancy packaging but little to differentiate themselves as beverages? It’s not to be found at the new Black Apple Crossing cidery in Springdale. The new cidery’s “Dry Guy” beverage, one of four introductory offerings, tastes and reacts a lot more like champagne. The “Spice of Life,” another of the new craft ciders, is modeled after cider maker Trey Holt’s fond remembrance of the spiced hot cider he drank as a young child.

The new cidery is certainly meant for adults, and the beverages are not to be toyed with - they come in at 7.8 percent alcohol, or several ticks above the typical packaged American Pilsner beer at 5 percent. The ciders made in Springdale are artisanal, small-batch products that mirror the attention to detail found in the region’s craft beer breweries, says Leo Orpin, one of a trio of founding partners along with Holt and John Handley, the Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (https://bit.ly/1PjeMKy ) reported.

Orpin and Holt started their passion in beer, actually. They made some home brews, with a particular emphasis in English ales. That led them to experiment with another English beverage style - ciders. They passed around samples to friends along the way.

More than one friend said they were ready to invest in a cider house should they decide to go into business. There was no such intention.

“It was a running joke,” Orpin says.

Until it was no longer funny. Piggybacking on the growing craft beer movement in the region, Black Apple Crossing opened its doors on July 25. Orpin says the partners originally searched for a building to lease, but then settled on an 8,000-square-foot space in behind the Gingiber home goods store on Emma Avenue. The revitalization of downtown Springdale helped the partners make their choice. So did the opportunity to build the new cidery from scratch. It took a year to complete the remodeling, Orpin says.

Test batches of cider have been in the works for some time. The apple juice is trucked in fresh from Washington. It takes about 2 1/2 weeks to make a batch of cider, Holt says, although specialty ciders such as barrel-aged varieties take significantly longer.

The Black Apple Crossing ciders made a debut at the Fayetteville Foam Fest in May. They reappeared in late June for the NWA Food Festival at the Walmart Arkansas Music Pavilion. Currently, the tap room is the only place to get Black Apple Products, which are sold by the glass or to-go via a 32-ounce, swing-stop glass growler. Orpin says distribution to restaurants in the area may take place as early as this year. That kind of expansion will come as the partners develop new ciders and find their market.

“The education process is huge. And we’re shouldering that because we’re first,” Orpin says.

Orpin says Black Apple Crossing will join the self-guided beer exploration tour known as the Fayetteville Ale Trail as soon as trail coordinators at the Fayetteville Visitors Center print off a new batch of booklets.

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