I’ve always lived by the mantra of giving credit where credit’s due. Bishop Cider Company has single-handedly given North Texas much of its cider credibility and notoriety. Based within the Bishop Arts District, the production facility and taproom now distributes across Texas. The cidery recently launched Cidercade, a gaming space that boasts 165 arcades, 24 draft ciders and production tours.
On a personal note, Bishop Cider’s CrackBerry is my jam. Cranberry, blackberry and apple flavors swirl with delectable results in this popular release. As the name not-so-subtly alludes to, it’s pretty addicting. Bishop Cider takes the Goldilocks approach to many of their ciders — not too tart, not too sweet. While you’re in the area, make sure to peruse the local shops and restaurants. The district has blossomed into one of the most authentic and endlessly entertaining corners of DFW.
Historic Downtown Grapevine recently added hard cider to its traditionally wine-centric offerings. I stumbled onto the locale, which lies one block east of South Main Street, earlier this summer. The space is well kept and snug with ample high tables and a bar. A small patio in the back looked welcoming if not for the triple-digit heat at the time. I ordered a flight of four short pours: Pineapple Crush, Freaky Peach Mint, Cherry Bomb and VooDoo Blackberry. Each drink was semi-sweet and boldly flavored. My 10-year-old son tagged along, and we dove into the dozen or so games near the table. He beat me at miniature Jenga. Or as I explained it to him, I let him beat me.
Locust Cider founder Jason Spears was overseeing the final stages of construction at his new South Main Village location when I dropped by. Spears is a Fort Worth native and was noticeably excited to be opening a production cidery and taproom in his hometown. He lives in Seattle and founded Locust Cider three and a half years ago when he saw a need for affordable, quality cider. He had and still has allergic reactions to hops, one of the main ingredients in beer. Spears built his business model, which now includes four locations, on quality ingredients, experimentation and a focus on being an active part of the communities where his businesses operate. The Near Southside, he said, provides the perfect blend of residential areas and locally-owned companies.
When Locust Cider opens its doors in the coming weeks, he predicts the taproom will quickly become a gathering place for locals to lounge, drink and play vintage Nintendo and Atari games. With the other locations, Spears said, the Cider Club has become popular.
“That’s the biggest” way we connect with locals, he said. “It becomes an ad hoc community. Customers pay a once-a-year fee of around $125. We donate $25 of that to a charity. You get free pints and flights when you come here and can join a private Facebook group. We have special events. We treat [Cider Club] members like family.”
Fort Worthians can expect business hours (Wednesdays through Sundays) with start times of 3pm on weekdays and noon on weekends. Food trucks will be readily available on site as well, Spears said. Of the 10 taps, around four will pour flagship ciders while the others are open to experimentation by cider maker Patrick Spears. Many of those recipes will incorporate local ingredients like honey, peaches and grapefruits.
“When customers sit here and get to know who we are, that will be super rewarding and meaningful,” Spears said. “We’re here because of Fort Worth, but this place is really about serving the neighborhood. I’ve always loved this city.”