PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – After five years of making whiskey in the Strip District and the Northside, the owners of Wigle Whiskey are expanding their alcoholic offerings.
“We will be producing hard cider, alcoholic ciders, meads,” co-owner Meredith Meyer Grelli told KDKA money editor Jon Delano on Friday.
Grelli says hard apple cider will be sold under a unique name.
“Threadbare Cider & Mead,” notes Grelli.
The one-acre site in Spring Garden on the Northside will house Threadbare’s cider fermentation house, a new barrelhouse for whiskey, an outdoor performance site, and plenty of parking.
Threadbare Cider is named for the scant clothing worn by John Chapman, better known as Johnny Appleseed, who turns out to have roots in Pittsburgh.
“Around 1800, 1805, he lived in Pittsburgh, apparently on the Hill District, what was then Grant’s Hill, now the Hill District, and he had a little cabin up there and he had a little orchard,” noted Lauren Uhl, a curator at the Heinz History Center.
The story is Johnny collected apple seeds from cider houses on the South Side and distributed them throughout the Midwest, returning to Pittsburgh frequently for more seeds.
Grelli says these apple seeds were key to hard cider.
“Apple trees from seeds produce ugly apples, apples that are tart and not very wonderful to eat,” noted Grelli.
“But they produce wonderful cider apples so all of his orchards that spread across the frontier were in fact intended for alcohol products.”
Hard cider, once the colonial man’s drink, was replaced by beer — until recently.
“It’s actually the fastest growing alcohol category in America right now,” said Grelli.
As for taste, cider brewer Dave Harries says just as wine is more than grape juice, hard cider is more than apple juice.
Hard cider is going to have a lot of extra flavor and character from the fermenting process, so we’re creating all kinds of interesting chemical compounds,” said Harries, the brewer for Threadbare Cider.
But you’ll have to wait.
Threadbare’s new hard cider won’t be available until November.