Liberty Cider is locally-made, regionally-grown, and nationally-renowned.
by Jamie Aquino
I see Jamie Pratt, co-owner of Spokane’s Liberty Ciderworks, multiple times a week at various farmers markets. We always greet each other with an enthusiastic “Hi Jamie!” which inevitably leads to giggling, as we both find it a bit humorous saying our own names in salutation.
What I didn’t know from our market meetings is that Pratt is a rockstar in the national cider community.
Pratt fell in love with hard cider four years ago when she became a customer at Liberty Ciderworks. The more she learned about cider, the more passionate she became, fueling her interest in the business of cider-making. After getting to know the staff which included head cider-maker and co-owner, Rick Hastings, Pratt volunteered to run the Liberty Ciderworks booth at some of the local farmers markets. By the end of her second market season, she would become a co-owner in the business.
Pratt has since become a Certified Cider Professional by the American Cider Association (ACA). Now she’s studying to obtain her Pommelier’s certification—the apple-based-equivalent of a Sommelier.
The cider market has grown in recent years, fueled by consumers’ desires for low-proof, gluten-free, and craft beverages. This is especially true here in the Northwest where most of the nation’s apples are grown.
So what is it that makes Liberty’s ciders stand out? Instead of adding yeast to the pressed apple juice during fermentation, Hastings and the cider-makers at Liberty make use of the wild yeast on the apples, leaves and even the branches. This “slow food” process gives their ciders their unique and distinct flavor and texture profiles. This small business is also committed to partnering with local family farms, using apples grown in the Palouse, Potlatch, ID, and Prosser, WA. With four product lines—Craft, Heirloom, Artisan, and Reserve—spanning different styles from around the world, Liberty truly has something for everyone. And for those who can’t decide, Liberty’s Core Club is the Ciderworks’ membership program that offers discounts and special events, once the tasting room is reopened.
The Ciderworks team’s dedication and hard work has paid off, earning them multiple awards and recognition across the nation, including a Good Food Award in 2018 and 2020. Three of their products have been nominated for 2021. They also placed in Portland International Cider Cup, and Sip magazine’s best of the Northwest 2020.
Daily interaction with her customers is the highlight of Pratt’s day. She and the rest of the Ciderworks team love to watch their customers walk through their doors. Lovingly known as Ciderheads, these customers have formed a community around this small business. It’s not uncommon for customers to engage in conversation with each other, they’ve gotten to know one another over time, and much like the classic Cheers, Liberty Ciderworks is a place where everybody knows your name.
If there’s one thing the team at Liberty Ciderworks could convey to their customers during this difficult time, it’s that they know without their customer’s loyalty, they would not survive. And for that, they are eternally grateful.
You can find Liberty Ciderworks online at libertycider.com and at the following Farmers’ Markets during the summer: Fairwood, The Spokane Farmers’ Market, Spokane Valley and Liberty Lake. During the winter months, you can find them at the Lumberbeard Market on Sundays from 2-4pm through April, and the brand new Riverfront Winter Market at the Pavilion, Wednesdays from 3-7pm through January.
To learn more about the Good Food Awards and to see if Liberty Ciderworks will win again later this month, visit https://goodfoodfdn.org/awards.
Photos courtesy of Liberty Ciderworks