Caitlin Braam, the 37-year-old owner and CEO of sister companies Yonder Cider and The Source, is living a dual dream of running her own craft cidery and helping like-minded folks jump-start their own.
A service industry veteran, from the marketing and branding side of things to restaurants, breweries and taprooms, Braam had long dreamed of piloting her own ship.
She realized that dream two-fold in July 2020, starting Yonder out of her garage in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle, selling four-packs of cider packed with the flavor that comes from using a combination of culinary apples and exotic cider apple varieties sourced mainly from the Wenatchee, Washington, area.
Braam’s garage-based Yonder Bar closed in February 2022, but not before serving as the driver of an easing of Seattle zoning regulations that made it simpler for folks to run businesses out of their homes during the Covid-19 pandemic, when swaths of neighborhood streets were only open to pedestrians.
Simultaneously, Braam launched The Source, which connects budding cider makers — as well as brewers and winemakers — with the same orchardists that supply Yonder with custom fermented single-variety fruit juice.
“Starting two companies in July 2020 certainly wasn’t for the faint of heart,” Braam says. “It was my choice to move forward when the pandemic hit, and it was surprising how much our efforts rang true with people. We were surprised at how many people really wanted to be a part of what we were doing and really embraced our brand. We struggled during the pandemic but we eventually grew, and if we can grow two companies during a pandemic then I’m excited for what the future holds.”
Using exotic varieties of cider apples sourced from Wenatchee — the self-described Apple Capital of the World — in addition to their base blend of culinary apples like Fuji and Honeycrisp distinguishes Yonder’s product from competitors that only use culinary apples. The addition of fruit specifically grown to be used in ciders gives Yonder’s offerings a well-rounded flavor and fuller mouthfeel.
Head cidermaker Monique Tribble, who has been with Yonder for virtually its entire existence, introduces other fruit flavors like orange, blackberry and pineapple that complement, rather than compete with, the apple.
For example, Coulee, Yonder’s summer seasonal, is a cider that has pineapple, lime and cardamom added to it to evoke mezcal-based cocktails that Braam enjoyed on a trip to Oaxaca, Mexico. Cashmere, a winter seasonal, and its older sibling Velvet Cashmere, are inspired by the Negroni cocktail. Both Velvet Cashmeres boast the addition of amaro, an Italian-style digestif, made by Seattle-based Fast Penny Spirits.
In addition to buying Yonder Cider in four-pack cans across the state, folks can also enjoy it on tap at the Ballard taproom Yonder shares with Moxee, Washington–based Bale Breaker Brewing Company. Opened in September 2021, the joint taproom offers an inviting place to enjoy craft cider and beer while relaxing by a fire pit, meeting new friends at communal beer hall tables or hosting a private event in a banquet room.
“There’s something for everyone, and I think it’s such a beautiful concept in a beautiful space,” Braam says. “There’s a diverse tap list on both sides. I designed a space that I’d really want to hang out in. It’s been really beneficial for both us and Bale Breaker.”
Both Yonder and The Source experienced huge growth in the past year. Braam said Yonder grew by 240% in 2022 and that she has more prospective clients inquiring with The Source than ever before, indicating a bright future for both companies.
“We’re growing on both sides and growing fast, which is exciting and a little scary,” says Braam, who splits her time between Seattle, where her husband and dog live, and Wenatchee, where her operations are based. “I’ve been in this industry for a really long time, and when I got the chance to have my own brand I came out of the gate swinging. I recently learned how to drive a forklift! I’ve spent too much time working toward this to not be a part of everything.”
This aptly named cider is crisp, clean and quenching. While the orange, lime and tropical fruit flavors advertised don’t present themselves on the nose, they make their appearance on the finish. The introduction of those unexpected fruit notes leaves you wanting more. A great drink that showcases the bittersweet apples but has some surprises in store, as well.
6.5% ABV | 16oz cans
This spring seasonal cider, inspired by the prohibition-era greyhound cocktail that mixes vodka or gin with grapefruit juice over ice, is tart and punchy thanks to the addition of grapefruit and lemon verbena. Though fans of sweeter ciders might find Sunnyslope a bit too puckering, the pro-sour crowd will enjoy the apple-grapefruit mix that is ideal for those 60-degree days that hint at warmer weather to come.
6.5% ABV | 16oz cans
Billed as a wine cocktail and coming in at a robust 9% ABV, Velvet Cashmere is a souped-up version of the Cashmere winter seasonal inspired by the Negroni. The addition of Amaricano amaro from Seattle-based Fast Penny Spirits lends a smooth richness to the proceedings. Bolstered by cranberries, cherries and the especially prevalent orange peel, this is a sophisticated drink that rises above the level of an ordinary cider into a composed cocktail that is quenching and full of flavor.
9.0% ABV | 16oz cans