If you’ve been in San Francisco for more than about five minutes, it’s likely you’ve encountered a can of Fort Point beer. Run out of a space in the Presidio, cases and cans of the independent brewery’s beers are ubiquitous, found in corner markets and grocery stores across the Bay Area. Soon, however, a brightly colored new product line from the brewery will begin to appear around the city.
For the first time in the company’s nine-year history, Fort Point is brewing something besides beer: a new line of hard ciders. Fort Point’s director of innovation, Mike Schnebeck, says the expansion has been in the works since mid-2019. “We’re always looking for cool stuff we can share with the world,” Schnebeck says. “And cider felt like the next natural step.”
As Schnebeck explains, Fort Point prides itself on producing consistent and balanced beers across all styles. The beers also tend to lean dry, Schnebeck notes, and the two ciders are no exception. Fort Point CEO and co-founder Justin Catalana says nailing the right flavor profile for the ciders was a years-long process that involved a lot of taste testing what’s already out on the market. “There’s some really amazing cider out there,” Catalana says. “But something that we learned is that the term ‘dry’ is very ambiguous in the cider world. We think consumers really want an actual dry cider.”
To that end, Fort Point has two ciders ready for Bay Area drinkers. The first, Super Dry, lives up to its straightforward name, striking a balance between the sweetness of the apples and a dryness that makes it capable of pairing with food — or just being enjoyed on a sunny San Francisco day. The second, Super Natural, combines apples with a small amount of dried hibiscus and rosehips. The result is a cider that drinks almost like a sparkling rosé or skin contact wine, not only due to its pale pink color, but also its more complex flavor profile. Both ciders build on a base of 100 percent West Coast-grown apples, Schnebeck says, though the company opted for a blend of apples to ensure consistency of flavor throughout the year. Both also clock in at 6.4 percent alcohol by volume.
Both ciders come in 16-ounce cans as opposed to Fort Point’s 12-ounce beers, and sport a colorful riff on the company’s recognizable graphic designs. Unlike the monochromatic color palette on most Fort Point cans, the ciders flaunt vibrant pink and orange or blue and green designs.
For now, the team says they’ll stick to just the two cider options — but anyone hoping to get a taste of what’s in the works down the line should keep an eye on the brewery’s two taprooms, one at the Ferry Building and the other on Valencia Street in the Mission. The tap rooms are where Fort Point tends to test any products still in the R&D phase, Schnebeck says, though the ciders will also be widely distributed around the region at small markets and larger grocery stores. The hope is it’ll be widely accepted by fans but also open the door for non-beer drinkers to dip their toes into the Fort Point waters. “The goal for us was to create a full-flavored hard cider that’s actually dry but very delicious, aroma-wise and flavorwise,” Schnebeck says.
Fort Point Super Dry and Super Natural ciders are available now at both the brewery’s taprooms and at retail stores around the Bay Area. For pick-up and on-demand delivery, visit the Fort Point Beer Company website.