Downeast Cider House Expands to East Boston This Fall
Situated in the East Boston Shipyard, a warehouse overlooks the harbor. The sprawling, rectangular building isn’t much to look at right now, but come September, it will be Downeast Cider House’s new base of operations.
It was love at first sight when Tyler Mosher and his cofounders, Ross and Matt Brockman, began scouting locations last December for their company’s latest expansion, he says. The 16,500-square foot space hasn’t had permanent tenants in some time, alternately being rented out as a construction staging area, or sitting dormant. After three and a half years in Charlestown, the cider company simply needs a bigger space to work.
“We just can’t make enough cider,” Mosher says. “We think we can make cider better, and more efficiently, in East Boston.”
This will be the third move, and fourth space, Downeast has gone through to meet demand since launching in Maine back in 2011. The company currently produces around 25,000 barrels (640,000 gallons) of cider a year, and those numbers will go up once the East Boston facility opens.
“Immediately, we’ll be able to produce twice as much as [in] Charlestown,” Mosher says. “Over time, we’re thinking it will be eight times the amount of cider that we can produce in Charlestown. It’s a bit of an optimistic number, and it’s going to take awhile for us to get there.”
Unlike at Charlestown, the East Boston space won’t have a taproom when it opens, though Mosher says they hope to add that component. For the time being, the East Boston location will be a production facility, with tours offered so guests can see the updated canning lines and brewing tanks, and sip free samples while they watch the brewers work.
Downeast has installed twice as many 120-barrel fermentors as they have in Charlestown, and the new canning line packages 99 cans per minute, compared with their current 43-can capacity, Mosher says.
Downeast will debut in East Boston on September 30. Public tours will run every hour between 5-7 p.m. on Fridays, on Saturdays from 11 a.m.-7 p.m., Sundays from noon-6 p.m., and Mondays from 4-6 p.m. The building will be closed to the public the rest of the week, but will be an active production facility.
The cider house is moving in on the same block as KO Pies at the Shipyard, but otherwise, it’s still a very industrial neighborhood.
“Not too many people get over to that part of East Boston, so we’re happy to bring people over,” Mosher says.
The expansion also means it will be even easier to find Downeast along the East Coast. A fair amount of the new production capacity is going toward upping distribution, Mosher says, as well as strengthening the cider company’s roots in the Boston area. Downeast currently distributes in New York and across New England, and plans to branch out into Philadelphia, Ohio, and beyond once the Shipyard space is up and running.
With this move, it’s hard not to wonder what will become of the Charlestown taproom. The Downeast team is still sorting that one out.
“We’re sort of in a transition phase right now. We don’t know exactly what it means for Charlestown,” Mosher says. “The dream would be to be able to keep the Charlestown space and treat it more as a test facility, where we can make experimental batches of cider and barrel-aged ciders.”
If everything goes according to plan, Mosher estimates the Charlestown space could make that transition in about six months, and also incorporate a few games, like shuffleboard, into the taproom layout.
Come what may, the Downeast team isn’t looking to abandon thirsty Bostonians seeking out their cider more and more each year.
“When we started this company, which was only four years ago, cider did not yet have the momentum it has now,” Ross Brockman previously told Boston. “All of a sudden, it’s not so outlandish to be drinking hard cider. And it’s delicious.”
Downeast Cider House, 256 Marginal St., East Boston, downeastcider.com.