• November 6, 2017

Prospect Ciderworks

Chase Brooks

Prospect Ciderworks co-founder Chase Brooks is on a mission to prove that hard cider doesn’t have to be—in his words—an “uncultured sugar bomb with an apple tree on the front.”

It’s a belief he conveniently shares with longtime friends and co-founders Sam Copeland and Mark Finnegan. One night in the fall of 2014 over drinks at Allston’s Deep Ellum, they discussed how their ideal apple-based sippers didn’t exist yet—and pondered how to tap into the beverage’s full potential. Brooks, who had been bartending by night, was well-versed in the beverage landscape and had noticed a lack of ciders with depth. It didn’t hurt that Finnegan also happened to grow up in the heart of a Massachusetts orchard town (oh, and was miserable at his software sales job).

There was just one problem: None of them were skilled cider makers, nor did they know much about beverage sales. Lack of qualifications aside, over the next year the trio conducted extensive research, concocted test batches, tweaked recipes by trial and error, and penned business plans. In November 2015, Harvard Cider Company was born out of a small industrial space, offering three core ciders. After opening their doors for a holiday pop-up store, the supply the friends thought would last through spring was gone in just 11 days.

Chase Brooks

Having clearly outgrown its space almost immediately, in the fall of 2016 the company moved to a 6,500-square-foot facility just below the South End in Newmarket Square, rebranding to Prospect Ciderworks. The name is an homage to both Prospect Hill in Harvard, Mass., and to the street the three founders lived on in high school. Following the rebranding, a lineup of ciders hit shelves in late spring 2017.

That lineup includes three mainstays: Sidro, Paradise, and Missing Link. Sidro, the company’s ultra-crushable flagship, is a classic New England cider fermented with Belgian saison yeast that falls halfway between dry and sweet. Belgian witbier fans will appreciate Paradise, which is an ode to that very beer style. After fermenting with a Belgian ale yeast, it’s steeped in grains of paradise and orange peel, resulting in a flavor that artfully blends citrus with spice. Missing Link is a dry-hopped session cider, with subtle bitterness. The blend of hops in this beer-lover’s cider rotates (currently it’s Mosaic and Cascade), resulting in a constantly evolving flavor profile.

Once the team can scale production to meet rising demand, they plan to start flexing their creative muscles. In fact, Finnegan’s R&D wishlist is already pushing 100 recipes.

All of Prospect Ciderworks’ products are available in 16-ounce cans, and will be on draft when the new taproom opens. In the meantime, you can sip them at Highball Lounge, Pastoral, City Tap House, Parish Cafe, Coda, jm Curley, and Babbo Pizzeria. They’re also sold at a number of retail locations around the area, including Boston Wine Exchange, Social Wines, The Urban Grape, Craft Beer Cellar Fenway and Fort Point, Wine Press Brookline, and Bauer Wine & Spirits.

Chase Brooks

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