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Eventually the industry declined due to disease and insect infestation. Farmers turned to poultry to make their living, and Springdale’s legacy of apple production became a distant memory.
The town will soon return to its roots with the opening of Arkansas’ first modern cidery at 321 E. Emma Avenue. Noble Crossing Cider House is set to pour the fruits of its labor with a soft opening in May.
Partners John Handley, Trey Holt, and Leo Orpin purchased the historic downtown building that once housed a hatchery and offices for local poultry grower George’s Inc. Renovations are underway, with many of the original structural elements being exposed for the first time in decades.
“We love the open rafter look,” said Orpin, referring to the production floor ceiling. Brick walls are in the process of shedding years’ worth of plaster, dirt, and grime.
Orpin, who previously worked for a local craft beer distributor, plans to oversee the business side of things, while Handley and Holt will focus on production and quality assurance. The latter two have a background in microbiology and will utilize an onsite QA lab to ensure a consistent cider is produced.
Alcoholic cider – or hard cider as it’s commonly known – is experiencing explosive growth that resembles craft beer’s recent rise. According to Nielsen, off-premise sales of cider grew by 71% last year, which followed 89% and 90% growth in 2013 and 2012 respectively.
What will set Noble Crossing apart from other well-established brands on the market?
“We’re aiming for balance,” said Orpin. “Most of the commercial ciders out right now – Angry Orchard, Wood Chuck – are very sweet. We want to do a semi-dry, semi-sweet cider that’s easy to drink.”
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