Herb’s Cider all started with its first batch made in a garage in 2016. But since then, owners Tim and Shama Alexander have expanded their Bellingham, Washington, cider company significantly. With offerings from their consistent standards, along with a plethora of specialty ciders including everything from a Pink Pearl Heirloom to bourbon barrel-aged ciders to an apple wine made from crab apples, this cidery is certainly devoted to unique, handcrafted ciders. From their dedication to utilizing 100 percent organic produce to what’s next up their sleeve after the delivery of a few cognac barrels, Herb’s Cider has a lot going on and Shama shares all about it.
1) Tell us what’s behind your name.
We [Tim “Herb” Alexander and Shama Alexander] fermented our first batch of cider in our garage in the fall of 2016 using fruit leftover from our small orchard. We considered ourselves to be quite the cidermakers, so we started a cider business and gave it Tim’s nickname. Then we got real and hired a real cidermaker, Chris Weir, to help us craft world-class, award-winning ciders.
2) You use 100-percent organic apples for production. Why is it important to Herb’s Cider to only use organic fruit?
Not only do we use 100-percent organic fruit, but we use organic/non-GMO yeast cultures and we source all of our fruit from local farmers. Collectively, as a company, we believe in our right to food security. With the onset of large-scale mono-agriculture, the use/overuse of pesticides and the introduction of genetically modified organisms into our food systems has become all too prevalent. The organic standard is a way of life for us. A part of our company’s mantra is “from our family to yours” and we truly believe it.
3) You recently had Cognac tanks delivered on-site. It sounds like something new and exciting is on the way. What’s on deck for Herb’s?
We imported two foeders from France. They are identical 520-gallon, 40-year-old French Cognac standing barrels. One is filled with an 80/20 blend of Manchurian crab apple that has been aging for six months, the other is filled with 13 different varieties of bittersharp and bittersweet apple juice that has aged eight months so far. We also imported two 600-liter Cognac puncheons filled with a Pommeau blend of French cider apples, with a plan to age for three and five years, respectively.
4) What’s your best advice for someone just starting to get into tasting cider?
As our resident cider nerd, Ashley McRae, would say, “Try EVERYTHING! Try cider every chance you get. You never know what you might fall in love with.” We pride ourselves on maintaining weekly cider tasting training sessions with our staff members. We want to ensure that they have a plethora of opportunities to further develop their own cider palates. It also gives them the tools they need to educate customers new to cider on how to taste the wide variety of products we offer. Cider is as diverse and complex as fine wine and craft beer.