Cider is fermenting all around Austin, and while we already have a stellar selection from the likes of Austin Eastciders and Argus Cidery, there’s a new fizzy potion in town that goes by the name of Texas Keeper Cider.
Named for the now-extinct Texas Keeper apple—a varietal that thrived in Lamar County from the 1800s to the 1940s and was known to last longer unrefrigerated—Texas Keeper debuted its first batch, Texas Keeper No. 1, in August 2014, and is quickly making its way onto the shelves of Austin’s farm-to-market grocers. The fruity hooch is the brainchild of Austin-raised Brandon Wilde, who has joined forces with friends Lindsey Peebles and Nick Doughty to create the satisfying hard cider.
Wilde, who has studied wine- and cider-making in places such as New Zealand and the West Coast—as well as at Austin Eastciders—says his attraction to cultivating and pressing apples was sparked during a stay in New Zealand on a work visa. “I was working on an orchard and realized that it was probably the most interesting and exciting job I ever had,” he says. “I probably should have put the pieces together then, but I’m so glad I ended up coming back to Austin to do something like this.”
In preparing Texas Keeper’s debut batch, the trio crushed, cold-pressed and fermented a variety of heirloom apples from New York to create an acidic, dry and slightly sweet blend. Over the coming months, the team will continue to unveil even more bottled fermentations, including two single-varietal ciders made with GoldRush and Golden Russet apples.
Wilde hopes he can eventually source more apples from Texas orchards, which may not be all that improbable in the coming years. “The Panhandle is the best option for sourcing the right apples,” he says. “We’ll be on board the moment we find ones that meet our standards and demand. We just haven’t found that yet—but I have confidence.” —Layne Lynch
For more information, visit texaskeeper.com