At Tallgrass Cider, it all starts with the apple.
“Making a good cider is all about the apples and starts with work in the orchard,” John Knisley said. “A good cider should have an apple aroma, great mouthfeel, and nice color. The apple varieties we use to make the cider have a huge influence on how good it will be.”
Tallgrass Cider opened in 2020 and is owned by husband-and-wife team, John and Brooke Knisley. The Madelia couple makes small-batch, farm-crafted hard ciders using only organic apples. They manage about 14 acres of orchards near Lake Crystal, producing more than 50 home-grown apple varieties. They have additional orchards at their organic farm, Alternative Roots Farm, in Madelia. John is also the City Planner for New Ulm.
“The cider has been well received. It’s off to a great start,” Knisley said “Folks appreciate the local, simple ingredients. Our wild fermented ciders are made with apple juice…that’s it. One of our new releases will also feature raspberries from our farm and orchard.”
Tallgrass Cider’s current releases include MN Nice, a semi-sweet hard cider, Wild Orchard, a semi-dry wild fermented hard cider, and Scratch & Tangle Raspberry Cider a semi-dry hard cider.
“After growing apples since 2012 and making homebrew for the better part of a decade, it felt like a natural evolution from our farming enterprise to start a farm cidery,” Knisley said. “We initially started making small-batch cider for personal use with family and friends. We really enjoyed it and decided to further our research and refine our process.”
Expect to see more of Tallgrass Cider soon. Knisley hopes to expand cider production and is seeking 8-10 acres to manage or plant into new orchards. In the meantime, look for Tallgrass Cider at area liquor stores, bars, and restaurants.
Photo by Jon Smith