SAN DIEGO (KGTV) - The Coronado Brewing Company is branching out to a new, healthier option for people to drink. And it doesn't involve any brewing.
In December, they launched a line of USDA Certified Organic Ciders. The company says they're the first brewery in California to offer a canned cider with that certification.
"We saw this as a very unique opportunity," says Head Brewer Mark Theisen. "We know a lot of people are looking for things that are low sugar, low calorie, and have something that sets it aside from your standard alcoholic beverage."
They offer two flavors. "Nice and Dry" is an apple cider. "Super Fruit" adds blueberries and acai berries to the mix.
Theisen says he had to learn an entirely different process to make them.
"Cider making is a lot more similar to winemaking than it is to beer making," he says.
The brewery also invested in new systems to ensure the product met strict USDA certification guidelines.
"All of the different elements have to be traceable with documentation," says Deanna Boyce, Coronado Brewing's Quality Control Manager. "You have to have a farmer that is organically certified. The apples have to go to a presser that is organically certified, and then that organic apple juice then comes to us."
The company also has to undergo yearly inspections to ensure its facility follows all the rules.
Coronado Brewing also bought a pasteurization tank. Every can goes through pasteurization to stay fresh on the shelf for up to a year.
"Because we're organic, we can't use sulfites and other preservatives," Theisen explains. "So this is our way to make sure there's no microbial growth and no secondary fermentation in cans."
All of that adds to the cost. A 4-pack of cans costs $14. Theisen says cider only accounts for 1% of their inventory, which helps spread the extra expense over the entire business. That allows the brewery to keep the price of the cider reasonable.
It sells for $14 for a 4-pack of cans at their brewery.
As for the capital expenses, Theisen says they'll pay off in the long run. The company saw organic cider as a way to diversify its brand while not taking on too much risk.
"Cider is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in America. The founding fathers made it," he says. "And it's seen consistent growth. You don't see a lot of dips or spikes."
Recent data shows organic food sales have quadrupled over the last 15 years. Theisen says as that becomes more popular, people will want to make sure what they drink is as clean as what they eat. Being the first to offer this product in grocery and liquor stores puts Coronado Brewing ahead of the curve.
"The end product is a very simple, very clean cider," he says.
The company currently brings in one tanker of organic juice per month. That makes 1,700 cases (40,800 cans) of cider. They plan to expand in the spring and summer as demand rises.
The cider is available at their brewery locations and several grocery stores across the state.