Tart Cider makes a splash in the small business community

Earlier this month, the founders of Tart Cider, Zoe Van Schyndel and Nicholas Timm, won first prize of $25,000 cash in a Business Plan Competition organized by VIBE, the Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship at University of Washington Tacoma. The win also brings with it up to $25,000 in consulting services for the start-up from local law firms, accountants and commercial real estate advisers.

Tart Cider wins VIBE award

Tart Cider owners accept VIBE award

Veterans and co-founders, Van Schyndel and Timm, met at The Evergreen State College where they learned that they both share a passion for cider. Van Schyndel teaches business at Evergreen and Timm was one of her best students.

Tart Hard Cider is a commercial cidery that produces a hard cider targeted to consumers looking for a refreshing, dry cider. Tart is distinguished by fresh pressed apples and has significantly less sugar than most commercial ciders.

Distribution plans for Tart are centered on U.S.-made stainless steel kegs, rather than bottles, with a focus on environmental sustainability. Production is done at a solar powered cidery with apples from the Pacific Northwest and equipment made in the U.S.


Find them at tartcidery.com

Tart plans to establish its flagship hard apple cider, and then release additional products with a “tart theme” periodically throughout the year. Seasonal ciders will also be part of the team’s offerings with specialty ciders tailored to holidays such as Thanksgiving and New Years.

Tart Hard Cider is a true example that the entrepreneurial spirit and passion found in craft, combined with smart business planning can truly pay dividends.

Artisan Spirit magazine features the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center partnership

Artisan Spirit—a nationally distributed magazine for craft distillers and their fans—highlighted the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center partnership in their latest edition. Tumwater is the epicenter of shared passion and collective work to support the evolution of the craft beer, cider, and spirits movement. These industries need formal and specialized education resources and other business supports to take them to the next level. Partners here are building on the community’s brewing legacy to make it happen.

This fall, South Puget Sound Community College will begin a formal degree program with the guidance of industry operators. Entrepreneurs will leverage the world-class business resources from the Center for Business and Innovation (a partnership with Thurston Economic Development Council and the College). And more developments are on the way in this community revitalization project to bring brewing back (#BringBrewingBack) in a new and expanded way.

Read the article, Creating the Craft Brewing and Distilling Center, in the Spring 2017 issue of Artisan Spirit magazine, by Chris Lozier.

4 reasons to fall in love with whiskey

SPSCC’s non-credit leg, Corporate and Continuing Education (CCE), was definitely on to something when they decided to partner with The Whiskey People for a five-class certificate series covering whiskey.

While trips to wine country have been popular destinations for years, how many times have you tasted—or learned much about—whiskey?  Whiskey-cert-april-17-smallShy of SPSCC’s new Craft Brewing and Distilling program, the 15-hour whiskey certificate series covered more than any beginner could wish to know about whiskey, from terminology and ingredients to origin and pairings.

Didn’t hear about the classes?  Let us recap some of the coolest takeaways and give you four reasons to fall in love with whiskey—and maybe even register for the next offering of the series later this year in September.

Watch the 1-minute class video >>

1. You don’t have to like the same whiskeys as the critics and connoisseurs.

According to instructor and founder of The Whiskey People, Treacy Duerfeldt, an important distinction between being a wine lover and a whiskey lover is how to appreciate the drink.  One part of appreciating whiskey is acquiring a taste for the spirit.  What’s more important, however, is learning what flavors and tasting method you like the best.  Treacy says that, “First you learn it, then you like it, then you love it.”  And once you get there, you can focus on drinking what you like while others can have what they like.  Say goodbye to snooty tasting rooms.  Sip and enjoy!

2. You can squeeze an extra workout into your day with “whiskey yoga”.

The classes offered several techniques to taste a variety of whiskeys, like drinking it straight or adding a little water.  Treacy’s favorite method allows the whiskey to rest in the mouth and rise to body temperature, followed by inhaling through the nose—all before swallowing.  He calls the method whiskey yoga, which releases the deepest flavor elements and gives you more insight to the ingredients and distilling process used.


3. You get to expand your vocabulary with words like “peaty”.

Once you’ve got whiskey yoga under your belt, it will be easier to appreciate the flavor components that are used in your favorite whiskeys.  When it comes to describing the whiskey you’re tasting, there’s no need to get fancy.  Feel free to stick to familiar words like “buttery” or “smoky” or “fruity”.  On the other hand, why not explore a whole new world of adjectives like “peaty”, “husky”, or “kippery” (go on… look them up).  Better yet, why not learn how to use your own words and fully understand and connect to what they mean?

4. You can support small business and local distilleries in Thurston County.

Washington State’s distilling industry has boomed in the past five years.  The Washington Distillers Guild estimates Washington’s 100+ retail distilleries to be the highest of any state in the U.S. and Thurston County boasts various brands close to home, like Sandstone Distillery in Tenino.  And most of the local craft distilleries source their raw ingredients directly from the region, including grains, potatoes, and even hogs (for infusing the whiskey with bacon, of course).

Learn more about our progress

Stay up-to-date on program development and additional milestone achievements.  Follow this blog and receive email updates when we’ve got something great to share.



Beer Beginnings–Where to Find Brewing History in Thurston County

Thinking back to growing up in Olympia, one memory stands the test of time – the Olympia Brewery. It was a time when you could count on smelling the unique, yeasty aroma while driving through Tumwater and still hear the whistle blow every afternoon at quitting time.
The Olympia Brewery has always been part of this community, whether you are a beer drinker or not. Just take a drive around the area and you’ll see historic examples still standing, reminding us of these roots. Whether it’s the original brewery on the Deschutes River, the Schmidt House, Tumwater Falls Park or the now empty modern day brewery at the top of the falls, this rich history is alive and ready to be explored. Read more on ThurstonTalk.

A local brewer’s impact on SPSCC’s new Craft Brewing and Distilling program

What is a college to do when an entire community has identified a need—and an opportunity—to build an educational program that will support the growth of one of the most exciting industries in existence?  Do it.
South Puget Sound Community College has always been dedicated to building workforce education that responds to the needs of the South Sound region. So when the Thurston Economic Development Council, City of Tumwater, and a collection of local craft beverage makers came together with us to identify that education was one of the gaps holding back this local industry from booming, we knew exactly how we could help.
That’s why SPSCC is launching our brand new 2-year Associate in Applied Science degree program in Craft Brewing and Distilling this fall. And industry leaders like Top Rung Brewing Company are helping lead the charge and speak for our local brewers as we build the program.
Top Rung’s co-founder and Business Manager, Casey Sobol, is the head of the college’s advisory committee for the new program. We visited Casey and his business partner Jason Stoltz at their brewery to talk about their success and thoughts on building the workforce needed to support the growing local industry.
“What we really need is community collaboration to grow and bring in the workforce needed,” said Casey. “What we’re missing is the education—the technical and chemistry side of brewing. Then there’s the business plan and investors. You need both to be successful.”  Top Rung has seen a 50% growth year over year since opening.
Our program includes general education, core requirements, and electives. Core requirements include chemistry classes, maintenance and manufacturing courses, and significant business curriculum. After finishing their core requirements, students can get cooperative work experience through internships and begin applying their skills in their chosen specialty area: brewing, distilling, or cider making.
For more information on the program, visit spscc.edu/culinary-beverage-arts.

Antique Planes and Artisan Spirits Landing on March 11 – Washington Made Spirits Soar Again At The Olympic Flight Museum

Antique Planes and Artisan Spirits Landing on March 11 – Washington Made Spirits Soar Again At The Olympic Flight Museum

The Washington Distillers Guild will be holding the Second Annual South Sound Spirits Gathering at the Olympic Flight Museum on Saturday, March 11, 2017. This is a 21+ event, from 4:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m., open to the public to enjoy spirit samples from 20 Washington State distilleries.

Tumwater City Administrator John Doan says, “We are excited to again be home to the South Sound Spirits Gathering. Washington’s spirits represent the bounty of the state, and skill and creativity of craft distillers. We invite everyone to come experience the spirits of Washington along with the hospitality of Tumwater.”

The Olympic Flight Museum will create a unique backdrop for the tasting, with several of the distillers on hand to answer questions about their products, the distillation process, and where the industry is heading. Washington Distillers Guild President Steve Stone says, “We are excited to showcase the variety of Washington spirits to the South Puget Sound community with the help of the City of Tumwater. We received such strong support from the surrounding communities last year that we had to make this an annual tasting event.”

In addition to the March 11th tasting, the Guild has organized the South Sound Distillery tour to take place March 10th. Tickets are available for an additional $25 and transportation is provided.

Bottle sales will be available, providing guests the chance to take home favorites as well as some less accessible Washington spirits, with a portion of the tax sales to benefit the Washington Distillers Guild. Lyft will be promoting SAFE RIDES for the event as well. New Lyft members may use the code: SAFERIDESSSG17 for free credits. Proceeds support the Washington Distillers Guild.

Ticket Sales begin on 2/10/2017 for the Second Annual South Sound Spirits Gathering at http://www.strangertickets.com/events/40632368/2nd-annual-south-sound-spirits-gathering.

Last year was a sold out event, so please plan ahead! Space is limited!

The support of the Olympic Flight museum and the Tumwater Lodging Tax Fund makes this event possible. Sponsoring hotels include Best Western of Tumwater and TownePlace Suites Olympia. Please contact the hotel to book.

For further information and sponsorship opportunities, contact Holly Robinson, Events Chair at Washington Distillers Guild, holly@captivespiritsdistilling.com, 206-512-7896

Contact information for the general public: http://www.washingtondistillersguild.org

Cider apples have terroir, too

Across the country, industrious entrepreneurs are creating unique craft beer, cider, and spirits with amazing stories. These beverages are really agricultural products and the source of their raw ingredients (apples, barley, wheat, or hops) is critical to the flavor profile. Producers of these craft beverages have discovered what farmers have long known. Like grapes that make great wine, these raw ingredients have a terroir – a unique set of characteristics related to climate, soil conditions, and farming practices that translate to unique characteristics and flavor profiles of beverages. This is true for apples too.

The owners of Aaron Burr Cider in rural New York State have proven that the source of their fruit is paramount to the uniqueness of their product. This husband and wife team collect cider apples by gleaning wild apple trees. It’s a labor of love that creates premium cider.

Watch Aaron Burr Cider’s Hard Cider the Hard Way story:cider-apple-have-terroir


Why are local grains important?

The Cascadia Grains Conference asked why local grains are important? Grains have unique flavors and characteristics, based on the region and conditions in which they’re grown. For producers and consumers of craft beer and spirits (and chefs, foodies, etc.), the expansion of local grains creates a robust palette to create and experience unique flavors, colors, and textures in food and beverages. Local grains are important to our economy and the future of craft beer and spirits. View the Why Local Grains? video.


PRODUCTION OF SMALL GRAIN CROPS – wheat, barley, oats, and rye – has been a key feature of farms in Western Washington, Oregon, and British Columbia since the fur-trade era of the mid‐1800s. Today, these crops and alternative grains (e.g. quinoa, amaranth, and buckwheat) are grown in rotation with high‐value fruit, vegetable, and bulb crops, as well as on pastures and haylands. In addition to their economic value to the farmer, these crops have important agroecological functions on the farm, including reducing nutrient leaching, increasing soil organic matter, breaking disease and pest cycles, and providing on-farm feed sources.

CONSUMER DEMAND for local grains, whole grain products, and alternative and gluten-free grains has increased tremendously over the past few years. Farmers and processors have been responding with expanded and diversified plantings, differentiated products, and efforts to develop new supply-chains. Still, developing localized markets west of the Cascade Mountains is not easy as the Pacific Northwest grain economy is focused on a small set of market classes (e.g. soft white wheat) produced mainly east of the mountains for export to international and national markets. A primary challenge is the lack of critical handling and processing infrastructure, which has been moved, dismantled, or repurposed for non‐ agricultural uses. Also, the generational knowledge of growing grain has been lost in many corners of our region.

● Farmers learn about grain production, connect with scale‐appropriate buyers, and learn strategies on increasing demands for cereals used for artisan breads, brewing, distilling, and poultry and livestock feeds.
● Processors & end-users get an inside look into grain production, quality, and brokering relationships to get the grain you want and need.
● Investors, brokers & local government officials get the scoop on rising investment and policy opportunities.

Register today!

Credit: https://cascadiagrains.com/

Local WSU Extension strengthening agriculture connections in Thurston County

Posted on behalf of Washington State University (WSU) Extension of Thurston County.

We envision a vibrant farming community, delicious fresh local food and beverages, an interlinked economy of producers, processors, brewers, distillers, bakers, restaurateurs, and practical agricultural research and education. The agriculture program at the WSU Thurston County extension office is proud to work on these issues with a diverse group of partners and organizations in South Puget Sound.

In 2017, the WSU Extension agriculture program in Thurston County is enthusiastic about several initiatives:

Join us at the 2017 Cascadia Grains Conference (January 6-7)

Once again WSU extension is working with a diverse, talented group of partners to put on the Cascadia Grains Conference. Our local office is coordinating the  “Economics of Grain” panel discussion on Saturday, January 7; and an equipment track gathering on Friday, January 6, for which we’re assembling a full-scale array of grain production equipment, and four expert grain producers to talk about equipment and how-to’s for establishing a grain enterprise in western Washington. Two other great options for Friday are the brewing and distilling tour, the hands-on baking workshop, and the pairing dinner at the Schmidt House. Register at cascadiagrains.com.

Craft brewing and distilling barley trials proposed

WSU Extension submitted a grant proposal to evaluate barley varieties for the craft brewing and distilling industries to support community-wide efforts to establish a Craft Brewing and Distilling Hub in Tumwater. If funded (keep your fingers crossed), we’ll utilize a breeder-extension-farmer-craft brewer/distiller collaboration to evaluate barley varieties for organic production and value-added processing. We hypothesize that unique flavors exist among the diverse germplasm in the WSU barley breeding program that will be of interest to craft maltsters, brewers and distillers. Nine barley breeding lines and/or varieties will be evaluated for valuable agronomic and end-use characteristics important to maltsters, brewers, distillers and farmers.

Small Farm and Ranch Management Class begins January 11

We’re very excited to offer this quarter-long class, January 11 – March 22, which provides practical information about whole farm planning, ecologically-based, diversified production systems, and alternative marketing techniques. Students will gain knowledge of the practical aspects of sustainable small acreage production systems for a wide variety of enterprises. The course involves guest lectures from local farmers, field trips, as well as classroom instruction. Students will develop a whole-farm plan during the class. Course instructors Lydia Beth Leimbach and Stephen Bramwell have over 25 combined years of experience in professional farming and farm production teaching. Register on our website.

More research and education initiatives!

Other initiatives we are working on for 2017 include farmer workshops (topics such as hoop house construction), a rotational grazing research initiative to co-manage for critical species and livestock production, farm nutrient management planning, and others. For updates, you can sign up for our e-newsletter updates (contact bramwell@wsu.edu), or visit our Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/thurstonextension/) or visit WSU Thurston County agriculture program website (http://extension.wsu.edu/thurston/agriculture/).

Turn the pages of “50 Images from the Archives” to unfold a brewing legacy

The Olympia Tumwater Foundation published an online book with 50 Images from their archives, featuring a sample of photos from the Olympia Brewing Company and the founding Schmidt family.

50 Images from the Archives



Click image to view “50 Images from the Archives.”


You’ll find Tumwater’s first “Artesian” well and more photos and story captions about building a brewing legacy. Thanks to our partners at Olympia Tumwater Foundation for sharing gems from their archives! We’re working together to Bring Brewing Back!

The work was funded in part by the Thurston County Heritage Grant Program. More images will be available to the public in 2017.

Contact the Olympia Tumwater Foundation at (360) 943-2550 for more information.