Brix Cider bottles the flavors of the southern Wisconsin landscape, producing hard cider with apples from 18 orchards within 30 miles of its cidery and pub.
The business model gives this new cidery in Mount Horeb a sense of place – a tasty one at that. Brix Cider doesn’t blend. It bottles and labels batches of hard cider from each individual orchard, making each raised glass a genuine toast to these local family businesses.
Also see: 10 Fun Facts About Apples
“I think sourcing local is the right thing to do,” says Marie Raboin, who owns Brix Cider LLC with her husband, Matt. “It would be hard for me to stomach buying apples or juice from out of state. We can make money doing it this way, and that’s the bottom line. It’s financially viable for us and it adds money into the local economy that would otherwise fall to the ground. It’s a win-win for everybody.”
Brix Cider began to sell commercially bottled cider in January 2017, producing the beverage at a winery in Stoughton. In January 2019, the Raboins opened their own cidery and craft cider pub in downtown Mount Horeb, where they now redefine cider for patrons. Rather than the stereotypical, ultra-sweet cider, the Raboins strive for a dry, crisp and bubbly beverage with a story.
“If you go to our Google reviews, a few say they didn’t realize they liked cider until they came here,” Raboin says.
Independent grocers, independent liquor stores, local orchards and the pub itself carry up to 10 Brix Cider varieties, which contain a mix of fruits, hops, honey and other locally sourced ingredients. The Brix Cider crew hand-picks 95 percent of their main ingredient from local orchards: flavorful yet undersized and blemished apples that fail the appearance test for the wholesale market. In 2019, the Raboins hope to harvest enough apples from their own farm’s young trees for a commercial batch, too.
Meanwhile, the menu at their craft cider pub includes a variety of farm-to-table foods that evolve with the local produce of the season. Their popular house-made sausages pay homage to Marie’s family history in the sausage business, and the pork originates from a local friend’s farm.
“We can actually produce something that is 100 percent locally grown and locally produced, and all the dollars are staying in the state,” Raboin says. “My main goals are to keep money local and have a sustainable business that I can be proud of and still raise my family.”
Brix is the measure of the concentration of sucrose by percent mass in a liquid. (In this case, how much sugar is in the apple juice.) Yeast feeds on sugars to make alcohol, so the higher the Brix, the higher the alcohol content.