CIS Chats: An Interview with the Team Behind Summer’s New Sip, Hibiscus Cider
If there’s one thing Harpoon staffers share, it’s a love of beer. And every summer, that love fuels the fight for the Kettle Cup—an annual employee brewing competition, in which teams from every department work to concoct a new brew. It all started as a friendly blind sampling, but today, the stakes are high: In addition to infinite bragging rights, the winning team gets to see their batch featured as part of Harpoon’s 100 Barrel Series.
This year’s champions? A team of four cider-loving women (three of whom reside right here in Southie) and one, as the team describes him, “kickass” male brewer. Together, they created Hibiscus Cider, Harpoon’s new summer seasonal cider that’s all natural, a little tropical, and boasts a 4.8% ABV, just like Harpoon Craft Cider. Here, we asked the team to tell us more about their win and the cider we foresee becoming this summer’s “it” drink.
CIS: To get started, can you tell us what led you to create Hibiscus Cider?
Hibiscus Cider Team: When it came time for Harpoon’s annual employee brewing competition, we knew we wanted to brew something with Hibiscus. Most commonly found in teas, we loved the subtle floral tartness and the pink hue the Hibiscus flower creates. We talked about brewing a beer, but knew that Harpoon was on the hunt for a summer seasonal cider and thought it would be the perfect opportunity to combine our love for Hibiscus with the approachability of a cider. And voila! Hibiscus cider, in theory, was created. But as we all know, theories don’t win brewing competitions, so we partnered with a Harpoon brewer to create the recipe and bring the idea to life.
CIS: How would you describe your cider in three words?
HCT: Tropical, fruity, refreshing.
CIS: What’s the most unusual ingredient found in your cider?
HCT: Harpoon Craft Cider is made with two ingredients – apples and our house yeast. We don’t add any sugar to the juice, just yeast! Since we used Harpoon Craft Cider as the base, the most unusual ingredient in Hibiscus Cider is the, you guessed it, dried Hibiscus leaves. There’s a whopping 8 lbs. of ground hibiscus flowers for every 320 gallons of cider!
CIS: When can we expect to see Hibiscus Cider in South Boston bars?
HCT: Hibiscus Cider hit bars on Wednesday, April 27th! Right now, Social Wines carries it as well as Loco and we are currently making a hibiscus margarita with them for their five days of cinco.
CIS: Tell us about the tap handle.
HCT: During the Kettle Cup, you have to come up with a name and a unique tap handle for your tnetry. The competition name was “Hibis-this.” For the tap handle, we ordered a really creepy wooden hand off Amazon, painted the finger nails pink and decorated the hand with fake hibiscus flowers.
CIS: Any advice for aspiring brewers out there?
HCT: Start home brewing! You need to know the process and ingredients before even walking into a brewery. Secondly, if you have some knowledge, bring a home brew batch to a local brewery to see if they are hiring interns for things like bottle labeling, keg washing, etc. Be enthusiastic and don’t give up after a few “no thanks” (that you will get). Or do what we did, become friends with a brewer!
CIS: Lastly, can you tell our readers a bit more about yourselves?
HCT: Julia Falk is the Digital Marketing Manager and has been at Harpoon for 2.5 years. She’s a Southie resident, and when she’s not working you’ll find her running, biking or swimming (she’s one crazy triathlete) or hanging on her roof deck with her husky, Hambone!
Jordan McMillan is the Digital Content Coordinator and has been at Harpoon for 3 years. She is also a Southie resident and when she’s not at Harpoon she’s boxing at The Club by George Foreman or playing Spikeball on Carson beach with friends.
Cait Kelliher is Harpoon’s Sales Forecast Analyst and also resides in Southie. But come summertime, she’s at the Cape every weekend enjoying the sunshine!
Carolyn Orth is the Marketing Promotions Coordinator and has been at Harpoon for 3 years. When she’s not out traveling to sweet places like Austin, TX for work, she’s busy planning her wedding, or hanging out with her fiancé and their dog, Lilo, in Somerville.
Lastly, Rich Eyring is a brewer here at Harpoon and has been here for 4 years. When he’s not busy brewing up delicious beers and ciders, you’ll find him hanging out by his smoker or barbecuing, playing cornhole, hiking, and fishing in the Middlesex Fells Reservation.
Mark your calendars:
An event celebrating the release of the cider, featuring Julia, Cait, Jordan, Carolyn, and Rich will be held at and at the Harpoon Beer Hall in Boston on Wednesday, May 11th!