CiderCon 2014 was a great success! We had over 450 attendees from around the world including Palau, New Zealand, Quebec and England. Here is a link to the group discussion session I facilitated.
At Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, we upgraded to an Goodnature Squeezebox SX-200 about one year ago. The first day we used it, we got through four bins, then eight then eleven. After completing the system by purchasing a matching Goodnature Elevator and PF-150 Pomace Feed System with EG 400/50 Grinder, we’re up to about 35 bins each day.
Press days start at 6 AM and end around 10 PM. We run two shifts with two people each, the switchover happening at 2 PM. Setup in the morning is about 45 minutes and a rough cleanup takes about an hour. A full truckload of apples is about 48 bins which takes about two days so we save the thorough cleaning until the pressing is done. That cleaning takes about four hours including cleaning the floor. The press operator generally never goes beyond arm’s reach of the machine. The second person loads and unloads apple bins, (including press dumping bins), runs the bin dumper, sorts the apples, keeps the pomace hopper full, and keeps the grinder running smoothly. Both jobs are about three-quarter time. You absolutely need two people, but neither one is working his tail off. For instance, if we’re short-handed, I run the second person role for both shifts (16 hours) without serious fatigue. We always try to increase the number of bins we process in a day because the cleanup is the same no matter how many bins we press and cleanup is significant.
I recently asked our No. 1 Press Jockey, Jason West (no relation), for a list of tips to maximizing the throughput of the press. With the above equipment, the press is the bottleneck. We do about 50 pressings per day, so shaving even 30 seconds off each run can really add up. On the flip side, a one minute slowdown per press can add an hour to our day, or reduce the bin count by two.
The Objective: Press as much juice as fast as possible utilizing a machine that moves at a hydraulically slow pace.
The Machine: The Goodnature Squeezebox SX-200 (i.e. the apple accordion, the peoples pomice pusher, Bob, Shiva’s sippy cup)
The delicate manner in which to produce the most nectar while staying efficient is not complicated but requires a dedicated focus and persistence. The following rules will ensure you meet this zen like level over extended periods of time:
Rule 1: KEEP THE PRESS MOVING 97.2% of the TIME.
(Ed. Note: He’s not kidding. The middle platen must be moving nearly all the time. We eat lunch in shifts and bathroom breaks are coordinated with the second person.)
Rule 2: Before pumping, check pomace hopper to ensure proper level of pomace to complete a full fill. If not, yell “I NEED MORE APPLES!”
Rule 3: Before pumping pomace into the bags, align the press frame, bags and plates equidistant to ensure even filling without overfilling.
Rule 4: Fill bags fast, equal, and full. FEF!
(Ed. Note: The pomace pump shouldn’t be stop-started frequently which is bad for the motor. Aim for one start-up per fill/pressing.)
Rule 5: SWITCH PRESS DIRECTION IMMEDIATELY UPON BAG FILL.
Rule 6: Equalize bags as soon as switch as occured.
(Ed. Note: This means that you’re sticking your fingers and hands into the bag openings while they’re being pressed, so be aware of getting your fingers pinched, crushed, and amputated.)
Rule 7: Start scraping bags as soon as your scraping paddle can fit between press bag plates (roughly one third to one half through the press).
Rule 8: Before dumping, shake and align press frame, bags and plates equidistant to ensure room for pomice cakes to exit during dump.
Rule 9: Dump the press bags when there is still 4-6 inches left on the currently-pressing run, as measured on the throw of the piston.
Rule 10: Dump the press bags with momentum to make certain bags empty on one attempt rather than having to bounce the racks multiple times.
Rule 11: Keep spent pomace dumping bins clear as to allow pomace cakes to empty freely.
Rule 12: Monitor the fermentation tank to ensure there is no overfill.
Rule 13: ALWAYS THINK ABOUT RULE 1!
Jason presses one bin of apples in a little under 25 minutes using the above techniques, which includes quite a bit of sitting and waiting for the hydraulics to press. We have the Squeezebox’s vernier speed control knobs adjusted to maximum speed which equates to about a 3 minute press time. We are currently looking for replacement control units which would allow a faster maximum cycle time. The above times and processes are based on high quality dessert fruit. For lower quality dessert fruit, we still keep up a fast pace but switch out the press bags at the shift change. Having two sets of press bags is a requirement to reaching a fast pace continuously.
Over the course of three hours, “students” will taste 20+ ciders alongside the Reverend himself, all the while discussing the history of cider, regional differences in cidermaking techniques, and the developing cider culture in the US. The ciders we will drink include traditional English Westcountry, French style from Normandy, Spanish Basque and Asturian, and the emerging American style. The cost for this event is $45 per person and “class” size is limited to 8. Please arrive at 7 pm well-fed since we will serve no food. Reserve your spot now by calling 503-567-2221 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
During CiderCon 2013, I gave a presentation entitled “Small-Scale Commercial Cidermaking with Low Capital Input”. I talked about equipment & techniques including fermenters, kegging, pressing, bottling and much more. The audio of me giving the presentation is available here.
I used Google Docs for the slideshow and because of the large number of photos and animation/transitions, PDF export doesn’t work. You must click the “Present” button at the top right of the slideshow screen in order to have the slides make any sense.
New release: Providence Traditional New England
I think my favorite part of cidermaking is releasing a new variety. We started our year with Revival Dry, our English-style “farmhouse” cider and we proceeded to sell out in a few months. (Don’t worry, we made three times as much this year.) Up next was Deliverance Ginger, which has turned out to be our second best seller. (And it’s getting a new quinine/tonic sister-cider soon.) The next release was Hallelujah Hopricot, which has been a runaway success. (We simply cannot make it fast enough.) But all year long, our winter seasonal cider has been quietly aging on oak and raisins. It has seen many thousands of gallons of other ciders leave the garage, patiently waiting its turn. And that time has come.
This cider follows a very old recipe dating from early 1600′s colonial America. When early English settlers came over the ocean, they brought some of their favorite cider apples with them, but soon discovered that other varieties produced better in the new world. So they set about to make cider that reminded them of home, but using these new varieties. The one taste that was lacking was tannin. English and French bittersweet cider apples with odd names such as Yarlington Mill, Dabinet, Medaille d’Or, Kingston Black, Porter’s Perfection, Brown Thorn, and Skyrme’s Kernel all contain tannins. (We use these varieties in Revival Dry.) But American apples with possibly familiar names such as Northern Spy, Golden Russet, MacIntosh, Baldwin, Winesap, Cortland and Newtown Pippin contain virtually no tannins. Using their Yankee ingenuity, these early cider lovers added raisins, which are high in tannins, to their fermenting cider. And to overcome poor sanitation, our ancestors added whatever sugars they had on hand to create a stronger, more alcoholic cider. Fast forward a few hundred years and this style of cider is called “New England Style”. The name “Providence” harkens back to Reverend William Blaxton, one of the founding fathers of Rhode Island (along with Roger Williams, who was eaten by an apple tree), who is credited with developing the first native apple variety.
Our take on this style is fully dry and still (no carbonation). Some recipes for New England Style call for the addition of cinnamon and nutmeg, which we’ve done here, using whole sticks and cracked cloves. This cider sat on oak and raisins for 10 months so it’s quite oakey but it doesn’t taste like raisins. It is very vinous and “wine”-y, and high in alcohol, coming in at 9.8%. We’ve been demoing it at tastings for the last couple months and are excited to release it to the public. We released it just a few weeks ago but the stock is down to 61 cases of this treat so don’t wait to get your bottle now.
Our new cidery is in the works
A year ago, we were really excited to have a whole room in the basement dedicated to the cidery. I think we had 1000 gallons in it at one point, and that was very tight. We rapidly expanded to include the garage, allowing us an additional 3500 gallons of fermentation capacity in there. But we’re out of room now and still can’t keep up with demand. Not to mention the extreme difficulties of handling dozens of bins (many tons) of apples in the driveway. If you’ve been reading these newsletters for a while, you’ll recall that we’ve been on the hunt for a new production space for many months, and it looks like we’re getting very close to signing a lease on a new cidery. We’ll have a big grand opening party in the early spring after our taproom is outfitted. Oh yeah, did I mention a taproom? It will be somewhere in between a wine tasting room and a bar. All our ciders will be on tap, we’ll offer flights of Revelation single-varietal ciders and to-go bottles and growler fills. We’ll keep you posted!
Online store coming soon
Just in time for the holidays, we’re working on a new online ordering system so you can buy cider for yourself and others. There are a lot of rules and regs to figure out to ship to each state, but we’re excited to offer cider to anyone in the country. We will also be using our new online store as the platform for a cider club, which is just like a wine club but better. We’ll share more details about the club as we get closer. Expect the store to go online shortly after Buy Nothing Day (aka Black Friday).
2012 harvest complete
The Pacific Northwest’s harvest of apples in 2012 has come to a close and it’s a whopper of a year. We harvested nearly 12,000 lbs of English and French bittersweet cider apples from our grower partners in Oregon. And the big commercial orchards in Washington yielded a record 122 million packed boxes, which means a lot of apples that we can buy throughout the year. However, the Michigan and New York growers had a really terrible year so we expect the price of apples to go up a bit from last year. There will still be plenty of apples at the right price for us, so we don’t anticipate any price increases. We’re truly thankful to live right next door to the largest apple growing region in the country. I expect that we’ll press in the neighborhood of 200,000 pounds of apples from the 2012 harvest. That’s a lot of cider to drink!
Hallelujah Hopricot available
Our newest hard cider is on store shelves now. And that cider is Hallelujah Hopricot. It’s proving to be a real crowd-pleaser and a great seller. This is the first recipe we’ve made that was developed by a neighbor homebrewer (and recipe genius) Travis Scrivner. When you first pour a glass of it, you’ll notice a robust aroma of equal parts apricot and hops. After trying dried apricots, apricot puree, whole apricots and more, we decided on an apricot juice. And the hops are Amarillo, Cascade and Chinook. We use whole-leaf hops (not pelletized) and “dry hop” the cider by soaking the hops in the finished cider just prior to bottling. The hops we’re using smell and taste citrusy, with grapefruit and lemon and hint of pine. These delicate aromas dissipate over time and if they’re not treated gently so the cider stays cold from the moment the hops are added until you pick it up off the shelf. If you dive deep into the flavors, you might notice more going on. There is a lot of complexity underneath the apricot and hops including multiple yeasts and wit beer spices. Ask in person sometime for all the details. It’s quite fun to make. And drink up, this cider is available year-round and is our new best-seller.
And did you know that we’re smack dab in the middle of the 2012 hop harvest? In honor of this season, the next batch of Hallelujah Hopricot (batch code 2011-19) will use freshly-harvested “wet” hops for an amazing aroma. We’re excited!
Our continued search for space
Due to the incredible response for my cider by thirsty Portlanders and beyond, we’ve officially outgrown the basement and garage. But we’re making do as best we can, along with all the inefficiencies such a small space requires. For instance, we unloaded two bins of apples yesterday, apple by apple, handfuls at a time. My kingdom for a forklift! We started looking for a proper production facility a few months ago and since then have been pining over a great potential production space in nearby Kenton. Alas, that space is not to be. The landlord is doing renovations to the building which will last until at least another eight months, and we’re sure the rate will go up, out of our price range, when they’re done. So the search continues, including this great-looking space a few blocks away from the intersection of NE Broadway and N Williams, a block from the new eastside streetcar line. Fingers crossed!
You might have heard of the Slow Food movement, which aims to preserve traditional and regional cuisine, raise awareness of what we eat, how it’s grown and how it’s made. Well have you heard of Slow Money? The Slow Money movement raises social consciousness to an equal footing with investment returns and encourages direct investment in local and sustainable businesses. There’s a chapter of the group in Portland and we’ve been invited to give a presentation to the investor group about Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider and our growth plans. If you know any accredited investors who would like to hear more, have them check it out.
In addition to that great event, both Nat and our new fabulous tastings specialist Carolyn are doing tastings around town and preparing for harvest season events. As always, check the website or keep an eye on Facebook or Twitter to stay informed.
Now that our cider has been on store shelves for a few months, the media is starting to take notice. To keep track of these stories we’ve put up a new page on our website. We have sample bottles sent to a few more places so we’ll see more coverage as time goes by.
The 2012 harvest has begun
On a beautiful and sunny Labor Day, we drove up to Hood River, Oregon for the first of many bins of apples from this year’s harvest. It was only two months ago that we finished pressing the end of the 2011 harvested apples which had been in cold storage. The variety shown here is Gravenstein, both green and red sports. They’re destined for Revelation Gravenstein, a single varietal hard cider. From the 2011 harvest, we made 3500 gallons of hard cider and we’re anticipating making close to 12,000 gallons from the 2012 harvest. More apples means more cider in more places like Washington, San Francisco and maybe even New York.
Talk to you soon!
UPDATE 11/19/2012: Added video to the end of this post.
Yesterday I pumped and filtered over 1000 gallons and all my equipment worked really well with no hitches and me working all by myself (per usual). As I was learning about commercial scale cidermaking I would have been overjoyed to find all the filtering and pumping details in one place so here they are for any other aspiring cidermakers.
The big spaceship looking thing in the middle is a lenticular filter housing, made by Pall. It uses SupraDisc media, 12″ in diameter, three stacked on top of each other. In my operation, I only filter to 7 microns nominal which is considered a coarse filtration.
The filter housing is pricey and the media is too. I’ve never used a plate and frame filter but from the discussions I’ve had with brewers, lenticular filters are much easier to use, waste no cider, are easier to set up and break down and do a very good job. I am certainly happy with it.
The cider is pumped from one container to another, through the filter. I use valves on each end of the filter. The input valve is used to control the flow and thus the pressure buildup in the filter housing. Too much pressure forces the little bits that I’m filtering deep into the media, reducing the life of the media. A valve on the outlet lets me move from one target container to another without all the cider pouring out of the housing. In addition to the two valves, I use two pressure gauges. It is the difference between the inlet and outlet pressure that determines how far you’re pushing crap deep into the filter. My Pall technical representative say to keep the two pressures within a few PSI of each other. The last bit-n-bob on each end of the filter are sight glasses. These aren’t really necessary but they’re very helpful so I can see how clear my cider is getting as well as debugging any foaming/loss of suction problems I might have. Sight glasses are pricey fittings but are worth it to me.
I’ll discuss my use of plastic HDPE IBCs for my primary fermentation tanks in a future blog post. They’re tough, inexpensive, readily available and with some modifications and adapters, are easy to use with standard tri-clamp fittings. In yesterday’s rackings, I transferred from these containers to my PaperIBCs. Both containers had hoses attached directly.
After I get everything hooked together (except connecting the source and target containers on each end), I hook the inlet hose up to a garden hose and run a whole bunch of water through it. I store the filter media soaked in a sulfite solution – they’re wet all the time. I pump water through the filter until I can’t taste or smell sulfite any more, and can’t taste or smell filter media. One area to improve upon is doing a quick ripper free sulfite test to ensure thorough flushing. Then I run a bunch of gallons of sanitizer through the system, purge via CO2, then hook up the containers at both ends and begin sucking cider. Despite doing my best to purge water before sucking cider, the first few gallons look mostly like water but it very quickly transitions to straight cider.
All this setup time means that once I start filtering, I like to do as much as I can. Yesterday I filtered one batch of Deliverance Ginger and three batches of Hallelujah Hopricot. Breakdown of the whole kit is pretty quick. I reverse the position of the pump so it’s pumping backwards through the filter housing and run about 150 gallons of water through it on full-blast. My pump is a 1 HP 3450 RPM Thomsen #4 so it puts out some serious water. It’s that high pressure backflushing that is crucial to prolonging the life of the filter media.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider
Contact: Nat West Phone:
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider Signs with Columbia Distributing
Portland, OR 07/10/12 – Just a few months into its first sales, and effective immediately, Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider has signed a deal with Columbia Distributing to distribute all products in the Oregon and Washington markets.
The quickly-growing cidery began as a hobby six years ago and is located in the Reverend’s basement in the historic Woodlawn neighborhood of NE Portland. Current market offerings include the flagship Revival Dry and the popular Deliverance Ginger. The first new offering under Columbia Distributing will be the celebrated Hallelujah Hopricot, followed closely by Sacrilege Sour Cherry, Providence Traditional New England and the limited-release Revelation single-variety series.
Columbia Distributing boasts the longest history of cider distributorship in the Pacific Northwest with many well-known cider brands. The large distributor also plays well with the locals, recently adding Portland beer scene favorite Hopworks Urban Brewery to its lineup. Reverend Nat’s will produce almost 4,000 gallons this year and expects to expand significantly under partnership with Columbia Distributing. The Reverend says, “I can drink my cider. Portland can drink my cider. Now more people can drink my cider.”
Bottles Now Available
I’ve been telling everyone that I’ll have bottles in stores on June 1st, but secretly I was hoping to get it out a month earlier. Everything came together like clockwork in these last few weeks so you can find my bottles on store shelves now. Two weeks ago, I delivered cider to eight fine establishments and this week, I added another one. Many more retailers have expressed interest so I’ve dropped off sample bottles to forty-one of them all around the Portland metro area. That should certainly result in some more retailers carrying my bottles. I have many more places to hit, and orders for cases are coming in regularly. I am self-distributing so it takes some work introducing publicans, owners and managers to my cider, but it’s been great to meet so many people and visit some neighborhoods that I don’t know very well. You can check out the full list of updated retailers carrying my cider here.
Because I’m self-distributing, I need your help finding the right places to carry my cider. Hooters? Probably not. McMenamins? No, they make their own cider. Your favorite foodie restaurant down the street specializing in regional fare? Absolutely yes! Let me know where you’d like to see my cider and I’ll work my hardest to get it there. Thank you for your help!
New Varieties Soon
Right now, the only cider available in bottles is Revival, my flagship cider. This is the cider that I launched Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider to make, but since then I’ve had so many amazing ideas for new cider blends. I’m also getting recipe help from Travis Scrivner, a neighbor and brewer who is an innovation genius. I call him my Director of Cider Research. We have experimental batches bubbling away in the basement with such crazy additions as hibiscus, saffron, lemon extract, black tea, smoked salt… not to mention all the yeast trials we’re doing like Czech pilsner, French farmhouse, Roselare… the list goes on! Most of these batches won’t see a store shelf, but some of them might be available in limited amounts from my upcoming planned tasting room. (See below!)
Starting around June 1, I’ll have my second cider available in bottles and in store coolers, Deliverance Ginger. I am very excited about this batch because it combines my favorite booze with my favorite soda! I use squeezed ginger root for a powerful ginger tang, but carefully balance it with cider so the apples really shine through. I have a double-batch of this cider ready for bottling which should last a good while. I’m thinking it’s going to be really popular, especially as the warm summer weather hits.
After Deliverance, I’ll release two single-varietal ciders in my Revelation lineup. The first one is Revelation Winesap, followed by Revelation Newtown Pippin. I have three more for release throughout the year. The idea with the Revelations is to find good apples that make good cider and teach people what a wide range of ciders can be made just by varying the apples. For each Revelation, I am using the same cultured yeast, not backsweetening at all, never pasteurizing, never adulterating with chemicals, and always finishing with an in-bottle fermentation. After Winesap and Newtown Pippin, I have Revelation Api-Lady, an ancient apple eaten by both Pliny the Elder and Julius Caesar; Revelation Granny Smith, which we all know and love as a great cooking apple but it also makes a great hard cider; and a special micro-batch of Revelation Kingston Black, arguably the world’s finest cider apple, available around Christmas. I’ll be offering four-packs of Revelation ciders for the holidays.
I have two more ciders planned for release this summer. They are really far out there: Hallelujah Hopricot, a Belgian abbey style cider mixed with hops and apricot, and Sacrilege Sour Cherry, a sour cherry kreik lambic style cider fermented with lactobacillus. That’s cider-nerd-speak for awesome recipes! And I’ve even got a cider in the works for the cold gray of winter: Providence Traditional New England, a spiced oaked cider a bit like mulled wine. I can hardly wait!
The biggest cider event of my summer is Oregon Cider Week, June 23-31. It is presented by the Northwest Cider Association and showcases my own cider and many other excellent ciders at tastings, pairings and special events throughout the week. It all gets started on Saturday June 23rd with the Portland Cider Summit at the South Waterfront. At least 25 cideries will be present and I’m promising blue skies above while pouring delicious samples all day. There will be bottles available to take home if you find something you especially like. After the Summit I’m holding my Week-Long Mobile Launch Party. (See below!)
In addition to the Cider Summit, my cider can be found at these events:
Oregon Zoo Brew, June 1st, 5-10 PM
I will be pouring through 30 gallons of Revival at this benefit for the Oregon Zoo and a kickoff for summer.
Portland Fruit Beer Festival, June 9th & 10th at Burnside Brewing
One keg each of Sacrilege Sour Cherry and Hallelujah Hopricot will be pouring at the Specials/Rotating taps. I don’t know exactly when that will be, so you’ll have to stick around for both days.
Summer Cider Day in Port Townsend, July 7th
This annual event is a great chance to taste all the ciders made by members of the Northwest Cider Association under one roof.
Keep an eye on on this page for all the details including new events as they’re added throughout the summer.
Expanding Production Space
If you’ve been by my cider cellar, you’ve seen how, ahem, “cozy” it is. I have managed to cram 2000 gallons of cider into 200 square feet of space. As a result, I have to be a contortionist to take gravity readings and there are a few spots that only my 8 year old daughter can get to. (I’m not kidding.) And that’s just the basement! I grumble about the driveway being too rough to easily move bins around, and I grumble about the garage being full of empty bottle storage and I grumble about tripping over hoses. And my friends and neighbors grumble every time I ask them for help unloading apples. Enough is enough!
For the last few weeks, I’ve been working with a commercial real estate broker and we’re close to putting in a lease offer on a warehouse in Kenton, near the Paul Bunyan statue. It’s a big space with plenty of room to grow. My cidery square footage will increase by over 2000%! I’ll be able to bring bins inside during pressings, have plenty of room for tanks and bottling equipment, and room for bottled inventory storage. And a forklift! And what’s most exciting is that I’ll be able to open a tasting room to serve you. I’ll have the classic stuff you can get on store shelves but also special release batches too small to print labels and sell in stores. I’ll start off being open one or two days per week and see how it goes from there. I don’t want to say too much until it’s a sure thing, but right now I’m hoping for a July move-in. Of course I’ll have a grand opening party and a fall harvest party and a catered cider dinner party and all kinds of other parties. Speaking of parties…
Week-Long Mobile Launch Party!
And now to what you’ve been waiting for – my LAUNCH PARTY! I’ve had such great support from so many retailers that I couldn’t favor just one for my launch party. So here’s the deal. Each weeknight of Oregon Cider Week, June 25th through Jun 29th, I’ll be doing free tastings. I’ve also convinced the bar owners to pour cheap pints when I’m there doing tastings. $3 pints to be exact. And each night there will be a different keg on tap. So that’s five evenings, five chances to try my full lineup of ciders, and five different kegs of cheap cider. I know I’ll see you there! Find all the details here.
Talk to you soon!
Before you get your hopes up for a licensed cidery in your basement, there are two incontrovertible difficulties you must overcome: city zoning and an exterior door.
I’m in the City of Portland Oregon, which allows two types of home-based businesses: Type A and Type B. Which one you select should depend on your plans for the cidery. In my case, I was concerned about being denied at any stage of the game by any government entity so I stuck with the simplest, requiring no neighbor notification.
Whichever type you choose, you have to stick to its rules. Even if I had chosen a Type B, there are restrictions on customers visiting and operating hours. Part of my business plan includes a healthy retail business via a tasting room. I can’t do that at home; I need a commercially zoned building for it. So I knew from the beginning that the basement was just a way to get thing started.
So wherever you live, you have to ensure that the kind of cidery you want to run can be legally run from a zoning point of view, in your home.
The second incontrovertible difficulty is the necessity of an exterior door. This requirement isn’t unambiguous. It stems from your State and the Federal (TTB) wanting to preserve their tax money. When you go into the business of producing alcohol, you immediately pick up two business investors: the state and the feds. When you make your first gallon of booze, they are entitled to their tax cut, whether you sell it or not. And they have to be convinced that you have sufficient means and systems in place at your cidery to protect their taxable booze.
There are numerous examples (dig around online) of people getting denied for their attached garages and numerous examples (The Commons Brewery, ENSO Winery, others) getting approved for their detached garages. The takeaway consensus among homebrewers is that if there is an exterior door from the bonded space to the outside world which prevents you from siphoning off booze into your residence, then things are good.
The TTB requires a floor plan (and so did the OLCC, even though the documentation says I didn’t need to provide it to them since I’m not doing retail sales), showing the location of locked doors and windows and any other doors into the cidery. On my floor plan, (available to download here), I left off the existence of the rest of the house but I did explain it in detail to the agent once we got to talking. This was a calculated risk and I don’t recommend leaving anything out. I’ve heard bad stories of applicants being “forgotten about” when they had to update their documents.
The OLCC and TTB agents assigned to my case were extremely friendly and helpful although not very prompt nor responsive. They’re obviously just overworked but they do recognize the value of more alcohol being sold. If you are unlucky enough to have your application assigned to a cranky agent but have the same layout as me, you might not get approved. It’s all about convincing them of the security of the taxable cider.
So if you don’t have an exterior door, you might get a reeeeally friendly agent, but don’t count on it. The application fees aren’t inexpensive (and you have to have your bond before you can apply), so I would hate to hear about you going down that road and not getting approved.
Up next in the series: construction details and space planning.