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Beer and Farming Experts Turn to Cider With Rockridge Bar and Bottle Shop

How do you like dem apples?

Tilted Shed/Facebook

An East Bay couple will bring their love of hard cider and expertise from the worlds of beer, agriculture, and food education to a new bar and retail outfit, Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop, which they hope to open in Rockridge by the end of the year. The location is 5815 College Avenue, in half of the former See Jane Run retail space, where owners Olivia Maki and Mike Reis will offer tastings and bottles to go of the best domestic and old world ciders, with 10 to 12 options on tap, bottle pours, snacks, and a few beer and wine options, too.

“I was always frustrated by the fact there weren’t retail option for buying bottles of cider to-go, or experiencing a wide selection of ciders on site,” says Reis, an Advanced Cicerone (beer sommelier) who was co-director of beverage programs at SF’s acclaimed beer bar Monk’s Kettle and its now-closed sibling Abbot’s Cellar before catching the cider bug.

Mike Reis and Olivia Maki
Redfield Cider

Part of the problem, as Reis saw it, was a lack of access to cider wholesalers. To explore that issue, for the last few years, he’s worked for specialty beer and cider wholesaler Lime Ventures. The irony, though, is that Wholesalers say there aren’t enough retailers to educate customers and sell them on cider.

Hence Redfield, named for a prized variety of new world cider apple. When it arrives in Oakland, Redfield will be the East Bay’s first cider-focused retail operation: In San Francisco, one ciders-specific bar, Upcider, operates in Polk Gulch, and an Oakland cider maker, Crooked City Cider, has a taproom of its own in Jack London Square.

Maki, who is co-chair for the cider category for the Good Food Awards, has managed communications for the Farmers Guild and FarmsReach and events for Bi-Rite’s educational kitchen 18 Reasons. With Reis, she hopes to emphasis cider as “truly an agricultural product, in the same way that wine is.”

While cider is made like wine, it’s consumed like beer because its alcohol level falls into the same range. “It doesn’t fit neatly into either of those categories,” says Reis. That discomfort can be felt in beer bars where ciders are often relegated to a few taps, icing out small cider producers who lack the capacity to keg their products.

To get the full scope of what’s out there, Redfield will offer bottle pours and keg pours. One producer they’ll highlight is Reis’ mentor in the industry, Tilted Shed Cider Works in Sonoma County, presenting that local option alongside cider from established production regions in New England, France, and Spain.

Stay tuned as Redfield presses in on an opening by year’s end.