By DANIELLE MARTIN/Montana State News
Antler tap handles lined the short bar of the Lockhorn Cider House Tuesday night while patrons filled the warm tasting room sippingginger, currant, hop, and traditional hard apple ciders. The first cider house of its kind in Montana received a supportive response last week in downtown Bozeman when would-be patrons began knocking on the doors even before they had officially opened.
Anna Deal, cofounder of Lockhorn with her husband Glen Deal, sat in the boisterous tasting room with her nine day old babywrapped beside her. While Glen poured drinks behind the bar, she described their first day of business last Saturday.
“Glen looked out here and he saw people come, park their car, knock on the door and walk away and we were like ‘Oh, let’s open in 12 minutes,’ so we were out here … peeling the tape off and putting toilet paper in the bathroom and off we went.”
Lockhorn Cider House is located at 21 South Wallace Ave. just behind Heebs Grocery. Patrons that came out in the bitterly cold temperatures said they were looking for a taste of something new from a taproom that boasted gluten free beverages.
“We’ve been making it kind of in our basement for the last three or four years and we just like cider,” Anna Deal said. “I can’t have gluten so that was one reason to go for it.”
At a 6.9 percent alcohol, the cider stands up to any craft beer made from wheat, hops or barley. The first taste is a tartness followed by a slight apple sweetness and effervescent finish.
Deal said that because of their completely dry brewing process, “its tart on the first sip … but it seems like when you’re halfway through the glass it really brightens up.”
Because they do not add any sugar in the process, they do not have to add sulfites as a preservative and the drinks “tend to treat you better in the morning,” she said.
The industry blog Unitedstatesofcider.com calls the recent resurgence of cider apple tree growers and cider makers as an “American craft cider revival.”Often viewed as a trendy modern drink, hard cider does in fact have as long a history as beer or wine and is very popular in Europe. The British trade association National Association of Cider Makers writes on their website: “In the 14th Century children were baptised in cider, it was cleaner than the water!”
The trade association website for the Ontario Craft Cider Associationwrites that in the 1920’s, “the prohibitionists cut down all the cider apple trees. When prohibition was repealed in 1933, it took a few days for the brewers to have drinks in people’s hands … it takes up to five years to grow an apple tree.”
The Deals are very enthusiastic about this burgeoning industry. When asked about the future of Lockhorn Anna said that they would eventually like to get some music, some simple food and try to source at least some of their apple juice locally. The apple juice they are using now comes from Eastern Washington and is certified organic.
As for the name of the establishment, Deal said that in her home state of Alaska moose in the fall will go to battle and “get stuck and not be able to get unstuck and die together. We have a pair of antlers back in Alaska that are stuck together this way. I just think it’s a tragically beautiful way to go, it’s this bittersweet struggle of life and that just sort of resonated with us.”
The Deals have been flattered by the popularity of their product and tasting room Anna says “it’s been great; I can’t believe how many people are in here on a Tuesday.”