Beak&Skiff expanding '1911' hard cider years ahead of schedule

Company says demand has increased faster than planned

LAFAYETTE (WSYR-TV) - Beak & Skiff's “1911” Hard Cider line is about to take a major leap forward.

Right now the business is going through a huge expansion of its bottling plant, doubling the facility in size, and much faster than expected.

"1911" co-owner Eddie Brennan tells NewsChannel 9, "We're in a growth curve right now and we are really riding the wave of a talented team who's excited."

The plant they built barely a year ago to bottle their fermented brand of apple cider for the next five years became too small just six months into operation.

Brennan says, "We're craft so we use 100 percent ingredients grown on our farm. It's all natural and I think people are starting to care about that."

“1911” has already grown from about 20,000 gallons a year two years ago to almost 200,000 gallons this year.

They’re adding a whole new building to meet next year’s expectation of 300,000 gallons a year.

The new building will allow for storage of finished product and raw materials clearing room in the bottling plant for a filler that can do 120 bottles a minute, four times what their current one can turn out.

Beak & Skiff Orchard General Manager Peter Fleckenstein says, "The '1911' hard cider will become our biggest single fresh cider customer some time next year and to react to that we're going to have to expand our cider plant with additional tanks, additional pressing capacity, more warehousing and more staff."

Instead of selling some excess crop out of farm, Beak & Skiff will store it all so there are apples in spring and summer to have a supply for “1911” year round.

Fleckstein says, "Everyday is just as busy as the last.  We don't have an off-season anymore."

Beak & Skiff is planting more trees with varieties the retailers and “pick your own” want but also keeping in mind varieties “1911” needs too.

"But what the hard cider guys need is completely different.  So that's changing our production mix in the orchard a little bit so this spring is going to be the first spring we'll be planting some trees specifically to hard cider." Fleckstein says.

Northern Spy is out of fancy for eating but perfect for cider.

Brennan says, "We'll launch a four pack that'll be 6.9 percent alcohol so it will be a little bit higher, but I think the customer comes in buys original they come in a month later and they're like what's new, what's different that's what's important to us is trying to be out in front of those trends."

They did seasonal pumpkin hard cider this fall, which sold out in a month.

Coming next year will be a ginger hard cider to add to the original, raspberry and blueberry already in production.

They'll even experiment next year with cans.

"There's a hyper local movement going on within New York State and throughout the country where people really look at the back of their bottles and want to know where the product was produced." Brennan says.
Beak & Skiff and “1911” are featured in a national "I Love New York" campaign launched by the Governor. 

Beak & Skiff was also picked a few months ago by USA Today readers as the number one orchard in America

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