When Chris Sheldon was a junior in college, he and a roommate with a kit decided to try their hand at apartment brewing. Perchance, they made hard cider, and Sheldon fell in love. “It became an obsession,” he says. “I still find myself drawn toward the cider-making process more than I am to brewing.”
Now 28, Sheldon wants to bring cider back to the burbs, and has launched Diner Brew Co. in an industrial section of Mount Vernon. (The name and jukebox-shaped label are a nod to 1950s diner culture.) “Hazy beers and ciders are popular nowadays, but I want to present this as a beautiful product,” Sheldon says. “I want [my ciders] to be clarified, straw-and-gold in color, but the flavor to still be there.”
Made with apples from Upstate New York, the ciders are at least 7 percent ABV and very dry. There’s a coffee cider, with a subtle aftertaste of a medium roast. Sheldon is developing a funky miso cider, with a slight umami and salty finish. The Herbalist’s Cider has lavender and coriander flavorings, which IPA fans might enjoy. The Cidre Des Huguenots is a farmhouse-fermented hard cider that is a shout-out to Sheldon’s growing up and currently living in New Rochelle, and to his French roots.
“A good cider should taste like wine,” Sheldon says, adding that cider apples are “ugly apples” that are high in tannins, which balance sharpness and sweetness. Sheldon is a huge fan of crabapples, which have some “wild qualities.”
One bottle of cider costs $7; a four-pack is under $24. You can find Diner Brew Co. cider online or at Good Shepherd Distillery (look out for a brandy collaboration coming soon) and on tap at SmokeHouse Tailgate Grill in Mamaroneck.
Diner Brew Co.
2 Cortlandt St, Mount Vernon