Cider drinkers know Colin Schilling from his cans of easy-drinking Schilling Cider. Soon, however, he'll also be the guy behind Schilling Cider House, a Fremont bar that will be part tap room for his cider, and part library of various cider styles. It's headed to 708 34th Street, an L-shaped space in a century-old brick building next to Old School Frozen Custard.
The ciders poured here will come from the Northwest, the nation, and the world. The only steadfast criterion, says Schilling, is that they must fit "my own opinion of what cider is." And what might that be? "Nothing with artificial flavors, and no illegitimate sugars."
Cider will flow from roughly 30 taps, and everything with an alcohol level below 7 percent can go home in your growler, thanks to this new law. Drinkers can order flights or full glasses from the taps, while foreign cider hubs like Spain, France, and the UK will be well represented in the cooler of bottles.
The cidery's founder envisions his new place as a house of cider education. Staff will have to pass a test before seeing customers. Down the road, a small production line will let Schilling create some of his experimental one-offs here. He's about to release a small batch of radler-styled cider, made with grapefruit-flavored soda from these guys, that sounds incredible.
The nation is in the throes of a cider renaissance, and Washington is a major player in reshaping drinkers' perception of fermented apple beverages. "Our brand isn't going to grow if other brands don't grow," says Schilling. "Our competition really is non-craft cider."
In that spirit, Schilling is dedicating a single tap to beer. That one handle will be simply labeled "Beer" and its contents will yo-yo from a summery pilsner to a hefty double imperial Russian stout, and back to something light again.
Yes, Schilling knows this approach is illogical and weird. "But that's how cider is treated."
Cross your fingers for a Solstice opening. Meanwhile Schilling Cider's Facebook page seems like a good place to watch for updates.