Charlie Davis and Katie Morgan run the Right Bee Cider cidery. They’re also married. And have a baby. And an old building. Whenever the pipe dream of owning a cidery or brewery or distillery pops in our head, it’s time to revisit our Drink Diary series.
We asked Charlie to write about what he drinks for a week. What’s below is a diary of what Charlie drank for a week with some more notes about why owning a cidery is much more difficult and demanding than drinking cider.
DAY 1 TUESDAY (September 11, 2018) – Metropolitan Flywheel, Homebrew Oktoberfest
I had to get an early (4:30 a.m.) start for a sales meeting with our distributor at 6:30 a.m., and a meeting with the City of Chicago at 11 a.m. to get through some of the red tape for our taproom. The city decided it wasn’t necessary to put an additional door on the front of our 100+ year old building which was good news. Putting in said door would require us to cut through about 16 inches of brick, and move a lot of electrical and plumbing to accommodate. Needless to say, I was relieved. My father-in-law told us to always celebrate the small wins. I celebrated with a Metropolitan Flywheel Pilsner we had stashed in the cooler at the cidery. It is the perfect beer in my opinion. I’m pretty sure I can drink 100 of these in one sitting. The great thing is, I don’t have to. If I’m having just one, it has plenty of complexity to sip and appreciate. Also, the people that make it are awesome, which makes it taste even better.
I was carbonating a homebrew that is going to be served this weekend at a party. I pulled a small sample. It did not disappoint.
DAY 2 WEDNESDAY (September 12, 2018) – Old Irving Brewing Co. Rat Pack Belgian Dubbel, Old Irving Brewing Co. Della Kölsch
My six-month-old son, Leo, woke us up at 4 a.m. I fed him, put him back to sleep, and used the opportunity to get a couple hours of work in before my wife, Katie, had to go save the world as a cardiac nurse at the hospital. I made the short trek to the cidery and set the crew up for bottling, and got home in time to see her off to work. I wasn’t working on the line because I watch my son on Wednesdays. When he woke up we went back to the cidery for a couple more hours, and then went to Old Irving Brewing Company to teach the staff about cider. They were nice enough to send me home with some of their Dubbel and Kölsch since I was on baby duty. I passed Leo to Katie in the late afternoon and headed back to the cidery to help wrap up. The crew (Read: Dave, our cidermaker) and I sampled the O.I.B. beers as we cleaned up. The dubbel blew us away. It is called “Rat Pack” and has a few extra ingredients to make it resemble an Old Fashioned cocktail. I didn’t pick up on the extra spices, but the booziness and light fruit/spice notes from the strong Belgian yeast did the trick. Add a touch of caramel from the malt bill and I was sold. The Kölsch was clean and refreshing, but that dubbel…
Fun side note: as I was leaving work around 10 p.m., a firetruck pulled up to the adjacent space. I walked over to see my neighbor’s space under an inch of water from a fire sprinkler. I didn’t have the heart to say, “Not my problem!” so I stayed and helped him clean up. I was in bed by 1 a.m. Long day.
DAY 3 THURSDAY (September 13, 2018) – Homebrew Oktoberfest, Right Bee Cider Semi-Dry
I took my time getting to work. It had been a long couple days and my friend was stopping by in the evening to bottle up our homebrew for the party on Saturday. It was business as usual until he stopped by. We enjoyed a glass of our homebrew while we bottled, then grabbed a cider from the cooler while we cleaned up. After six years of professional brewing in the beginning of my career, this was the first beer I had brewed in about four years. We made this Oktoberfest a few weeks ago, and it turned out nicely. If I had to do it again, I would probably add a bit of body. It was simple grain bill, and if I’m being super critical, I think it lacked a tiny bit of body. Maybe in four more years I can try brewing it again.
DAY 4 FRIDAY (September 14, 2018) – Metropolitan “Tandem” Snakebite, Metropolitan Heliostat
I had a “relaxing” day watching Leo while Katie worked at the hospital. When she got home, I stopped by the cidery to meet our friend and bee-keeper Naaman. He passed off some fresh hops from his garden we are excited to experiment with. After that it was off to the beautiful Metropolitan Brewing Company on the river for a release party.
The Right Bee team went over to party and drink some snakebites. Recently, Illinois passed a bill allowing taprooms to carry guest beers and ciders and it has helped us immensely. Metropolitan decided to offer our dry cider at their taproom on its own, or mixed in a snakebite with your choice of Dynamo Copper Lager, or Krankshaft Kölsch. I preferred the Krankshaft Tandem. The cider lent a nice sour, citrus, tart note. Metro’s beers are always perfect, and always on style so it was a nice change of pace. While the Dynamo was excellent, I felt the cider was over-powered by the beer. I used this visit to the brewery as an excuse to drink a “Zwickel” or unfiltered version of the aforementioned Flywheel Pilsner, which I did. Leo melted down, and we booked it home at seven to get him in his crib. Party animals!
DAY 5 SATURDAY (September 15, 2018) – Homebrew Oktoberfest, 2011 Goose Island Matilda
We stopped by our friends place in Greektown for a couple hours and enjoyed some of our homebrewed Oktoberfest. It was a pleasure to catch up with old friends. It was the first “normal” Saturday Katie and I have had for as long as we can remember. We went grocery shopping, relaxed, and then visited friends. My buddy broke out some beers he had been cellaring and we cracked open a 2011 Goose Island Matilda. Goose Island doesn’t need my endorsement, but the beer held up well over time, especially for a lower ABV Belgian. I didn’t detect any notes of oxidation, and the yeast character improved over time. Lots of spice, sufficient malt backbone, with an understated wild characteristic which works for me as I am not a huge sour beer drinker.
We left because Leo had to go to bed. Of course, I snuck over to the cidery after bedtime to cram in a bit of work and check our tank temps.
DAY 6 SUNDAY (September 16, 2018) – Hofbräu Oktoberfest, Hofbräu Dunkel
If you haven’t gather by now, I love German beers. My friend who is a brewer at Lagunitas in Chicago had a few friends over for an Oktoberfest themed cookout. He grabbed brats from Paulina Market, made homemade kraut, potato salad, and pretzels. The coolers were packed with plenty of beer. I grabbed a Hofbräu Oktoberfest and Dunkel while Leo partied. I managed to keep him out of our apartment for four whole hours while Katie got some much needed time to herself. Yes, I went to work after he went to bed to start our excise tax reports and set up for the week.
DAY 7 MONDAY (Septmeber 17, 2018) – Right Bee Cider “No Way Rosé”
I went in to work around 5 p.m. to complete our monthly excise tax reports (on time!) and listen to the Bears. They won. I drank a glass of our Rosé to celebrate. A dry cider with fresh blueberries from the Logan Square farmers market to give it a nice pink hue, without any sweetness. An earthy cider with blueberry skin tannins that give it nice balance and complexity.