Despite the end of Prohibition, hard cider simply faded. Now making a 21st-century revival, hard cider is exploding into mainstream popularity. And no brand is making a bigger splash than Southern California’s Julian Hard Cider.
Co-founders Ken Knott and Paul Thomas have quite literally “crafted a libation to rekindle America’s passion for hard cider.” Using only fresh-pressed juice from hand-picked apples, the company’s uncompromising diligence to excellence has catapulted Julian Hard Cider to the apex of product choices.
“Julian Hard Cider is a fruit-flavored, craft hard cider with fruit at the forefront of every batch,” said La Jolla resident Knott. “Driven by our passion to create delicious, high-quality craft ciders, we’ve blended premium, 100 percent freshly-pressed, hard apple cider with American-grown, sustainably-farmed fruit juices. Every palate will find a favorite craft cider from Julian Hard Cider’s variety of choices to enjoy with friends and family.”
Julian Hard Cider was bred from a lightbulb moment from Knott’s family cabin in Julian. Surrounded by apple orchards, Knott’s “longtime buddy,” Paul Thomas, a former Navy-corpsmen who sported a history of dabbling in “culinary art,” suggested creating craft ciders that would become as popular as craft beers. After “connecting the dots” and recruiting “longtime San Diegans and hard-working successful business couple, Keith and Priscilla Webb,” Julian Hard Cider was born. With an “unwavering” dedication to old-school quality, the maverick company quickly garnered loyal customer support.
“San Diego’s emergence of IPA beers were instrumental in the growth of hard cider,” continued Knott. “Craft beers introduced palates to craft cider. Today’s consumer seeks all things new from a market that offers a wide variety of beverages – craft beers and hard ciders, hard lemonades and meads. Consumers are no longer married to one beverage made by one brand. Hard ciders are the perfect hybrid of a beer and wine. They’re a crisp, not overly sweet carbonated beverage with a lower alcohol content that’s a perfect alternative to beer or wine.”
Julian Hard Cider presents a potpourri of flavors, both seasonal and year-round favorites. According to Knott, flavored hard ciders are paired with various meals just like wine. The tasty carbonated beverage should be served “really cold.” Hard cider doesn’t require an acquired taste like whiskey or brandy and all-natural processing differentiates Julian Hard Cider’s superiority – and flavor – from processed, mass-produced, overly sweet ciders made from concentrate. Hard ciders made from reconstituted apple juice are regarded as poor quality – “like making wine from grape juice.”
“Processed, sweet concentrated ciders are loaded with sugar,” explained Knott. “Julian Hard Cider follows a 200-year-old recipe of freshly pressed apple juice fermented to preserve freshness and ensure clarity.”
Knott said that Julian Hard Cider pours freshly pressed apple juice immediately into a vat production line for fermentation and carbonation. Authentic ingredients are utilized with “nothing made roundabout by cutting corners.”
“Flavors become flavors because we use fresh pressed ingredients, not chemistry lab products,” he said. “Drinking Julian Hard Cider is like biting into an apple.”
Although year-round apple stock comes from Washington, Oregon, Colorado, Arizona, and Missouri, the hard cider’s namesake, Julian, provides the company a fall harvest while showcasing their laboratory. Knott described the former gold rush town as the perfect four-season climate for growing delicious apples in its boutique orchards.
“Not many land pockets in Southern California can grow apples like Julian,” he said. “Julian’s a saddle in the mountains with a perfect four-season climate. Orchards are small family homesteads of 10 acres with 100 trees. Julian apple farmers come from generations of growers that include successful retirees who become gentleman farmers. Julian apples are amazing; they’ve even won awards at the World’s Fair.”
Celebrating almost a decade of success, Julian Hard Cider is served in craft-focused bars, restaurants, bottleshops and on tap in Miner’s Saloon, the company’s tasting room located in Julian. Never falling short of new flavor ideas, the team “tinkers” until the perfect blend is discovered. Variations are based on ever-changing agricultural products, available ingredients, price points and a competitive market. The organically grown company streamlines and “bootstraps” SOPs right back into the product to uphold their promise of quality and integrity.
“We’ve bootstrapped Julian Hard Cider to make sure everything is done right,” said Knott. “The local component is the backbone of our company.”
Flaunting a super cool logo, the oversized bottle is emblematic of the former mining town encircled by American red, white and blue décor. Patriotism sidles product integrity. Active in supporting the military, Knott and Thomas host patriotic parties as their Red, White, and Blue Campaign, honoring the military and supporting local homeless veterans. Memorial Day, July 4th and Labor Day are devoted to Julian Hard Cider tasting parties. One-hundred percent of the proceeds are donated to veterans causes including Veterans Village – a community that supports homeless vets.
“Veterans share their stories at Julian Hard Cider’s tasting room, often leaving behind their patches or challenge coins,” concluded Knott. “We’re proud that our craft cidery has cultivated a community of veterans supporting veterans. We’re proud to dedicate a day of sales to the men and women who dedicated their service to America.”