Hard cider plays into an almost overwhelming number of contemporary trends with its fresh connotations, unique flavors, gluten-free status, and low calorie and ABV levels when compared to other alcoholic options. While market research continues to point operators toward incorporating international flavors and cuisines, one cider company is scaling up to the intergalactic level.
ACE Cider, the largest and oldest cider maker on the West Coast, crafted its latest brew in homage to the growing pop culture interest in outer space, just in time for the much anticipated “The Force Awakens” Star Wars reboot, which is expected to be one of the most lucrative movie launches to date.
While many limited-time offers paying homage to the movie release are cropping up in the quick-service segment, full service is finding that ACE’s new SPACE craft cider is a tasteful way to capitalize on the fervor.
The new, 22-ounce bottles released in October incorporate a puree of blood orange with fresh pressed apple cider in a blend that marks the company’s first foray into unfiltered options. ACE is well known for its leading-edge styles, with best-selling pineapple and pumpkin iterations already on its roster.
For the SPACE brew, House says he went directly to fans on social media for flavor inspiration, coming back with blood orange and (the quite witty response of) star fruit as the two most popular picks. After some mixing and taste testing, the full-flavor, high-color blood orange won the day.
“It’s almost bizarre how much Americans are obsessed with Star Wars,” House says, citing his IT employee, who has a tattoo of the fictional planet Tatooine on his leg. “On top of that, you’ve got private companies trying to send people up to space and people becoming interested in space travel again, and I thought that maybe I could capture some of that with an out-of-this-world flavor.”
Dining spots nested within theater spaces, such as the Alamo Draft House in Austin, Texas, have been showing particular interest in the blood-orange brew, while The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium, which has 16 units nationwide, is also considering putting the beverage on tap.
While Jeffrey House, ACE’s founder, says restaurants stand to gain from the timely release, his inspiration was less about profit, and more about people.
More than 30 years ago, his wife Angela House was offered a role as an extra in Star Wars, which she nearly turned down for a better-paying gig in a cigarette commercial. Now, the cantina scene she participated in is regarded as perhaps the most famous and recognizable movie scenes of all time, which is certainly something to toast to.
In fact, the SPACE cider is served in champagne flutes at the company’s ACE in the Hole Cider Pub in Sonoma County in California, selling for $5 a glass. For pint pours, House suggests charging around $6, or $7 for a full bottle.
If SPACE becomes just as popular as ACE’s other inventive styles, House says he will consider keeping it in production indefinitely and bottling smaller portions.
And as for the movie, House and his wife will be waiting for the DVD release, biding their time with a cool cider in hand.