After announcing its presence in October of 2018, Ficklewood Ciderworks, the brainchild of Long Beach friends Joe Farrier and Stefan Enjem, is beginning to take shape after taking over a portion of the building at 700 E. Broadway on the easternmost edge of Downtown. It will soon become the first cidery in Long Beach.
“We are looking to finish construction at the beginning of October and kick off our first fermentations to open by the end of fall,” said Enjem. “The city departments have been very supportive in helping us kick-off construction.”
Before Honest Abe cidery opened up shop in Carson, you’d have to make the lengthy trip to Thousand Oaks for 101 Cider or to Claremont for Ironbark Ciderworks if you wanted to find a cidery in our region. If you weren’t pressed for time, you could trek further to joints such as the Santa Barbara Cider Co. or Meraki Cider.
Over the past three years, California’s cidery scene has boomed, with more than 30 cideries opening, but almost every single one of them is north of Ventura. Long Beach has the distinction of being home to the region’s first cider house—the sadly closed Great Society—that once had tons of taps that offered the apple-based drink, but it never actually made cider. If you wanted cider creation, the options were minimal.
Fortunately, the cider-loving souls yearning for local craft will no longer have to travel far thanks to Ficklewood.
The owner of the building at 700 E. Broadway—which was once home to a post office and a DMV in the 1950s—will be divvying up the building, with Ficklewood taking the easternmost edge, about half of its space. With the build-out continuing and no need for a kitchen, this cidery will be a pure fermentation site and taproom.
Cider has, in many ways, grown up, at least for American audiences. An English staple, especially in the West Country, cider’s base is quite simple: take the juice of any apple—historically, it’s been the cider apple, hence its name—and add sugar or fruit or botanicals before fermentation to give it alcohol and a new flavor profile. And while many American palates think of cider as super sweet concoctions like Angry Orchard, the owners behind Ficklewood are intent on returning cider back to its origins as a dry or semi-dry drink where sugar is entirely or almost entirely fermented out.
Because, after all, ciders aren’t just sweet. No, no, no, they can be sour, hoppy, fruity, brut-like, or barrel-aged. They can have ABVs that run from 2% to 12%. They’re just like beers and they’re just like wines, filled with complexity and varieties that are adjustable to different palates.
“One of my favorites that we currently do is a cider fermented with raisins and molasses,” Enjem said. “It’s dry-fermented but it still holds that strong molasses flavor. It’s genuinely good stuff where there’s no sugar in it at all but you get these aroma and flavor of the molasses without the sugar. Also, we love both the art side and the science side behind making a cider. We’re both engineers and so we kind of geeked out over brewing cider in general.”
This is one example of the style the pair uses when creating cider. And they won’t stop there: Ficklewood will work with everything from hops to hibiscus, some of which the city’s planning folks have granted them the ability to grow on the roof of their future home. They’re also catering to a crowd largely dismissed in the drinking scene: the gluten-free by medical necessity or by choice.
“I have celiac disease,” Farrier said, “so cider became a friend of mine long ago and, in a sense, that’s how we became connected because [Stefan] suffers from diabetes. Some ciders can have no sugar whatsoever or as little a few grams, so cider connected us.”
On top of this, there is a sense of localism and community in cider that is similar to that of the local beer scenes across the state. While beer is made by brewing and cider is made by fermenting—making the latter more akin to wine-making—the two share a kinship in the types of communities they’ve developed: tight-knit and welcoming, where pretense falls short and knowledge-sharing reigns.
In fact, Ficklewood echoes this hand-holding, being birthed out of a friendship between Farrier and Enjem that is heartwarming enough that each has laid a ladder over the other’s back fence in Belmont Heights. Yup, they’re neighbors as well as friends. This made each one welcome to hop over and share new insights after the pair took up homebrewing.
“The ciders we fell in love with are the ones that returned to old-world traditions,” Farrier said. “They ferment the sugar all the way out. Sometimes they’ll back-sweeten the cider to give just a touch of sweetness, to bring on more of a mouth-feel and body, but, by and large, they’re dry. Those are the characteristics that made us fall in love in with craft cider.”
And this isn’t to dismiss macro-ciders like Angry Orchard. As Enjem notes, Angry Orchard gave cider the respect of a tap handle that opened doors for cider; now it’s about bringing a more refined cider to the masses.
With that in mind, the back-and-forth conversations and musings flourish in their backyard exchanges, such as creating an “IPC” that will appeal to the hop-obsessed IPA-lovers of the beer world.
“We want it to be very experiential,” Enjem said. “There’s not a huge amount of people that know what cider can be. We want people to come in and see the fermentation process, interact with a staff that is trained and knowledgeable. Basically, we want people to fall in love with cider like we did.”
The latest floor plan at Ficklewood will have an open layout, with six fermenting tanks greeting the eye. Patrons will likely notice the difference immediately: unlike the unitanks, the conical tanks often used for beer brewing, Ficklewood will have modified brite tanks that make the fermentation process more efficient and cleaner.
When open, they hope to have five or six ciders on tap (with a possible future venture into perry, the pear-centric sister to cider, and possible collaborations with The Blendery) while encouraging folks to bring food delivery in or, as they hope to build a relationship, order grub from the neighboring Roscoe’s Chicken and Waffles.
Fried thigh and a sugar-free cider to balance out the intake? Bring it.
Ficklewood Ciderworks will be at 700 E Broadway in Downtown Long Beach.
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