Over the last two years, Bellingham, having become a craft beer destination, has snuggled up to a new libation– craft cider. With the opening of Herb’s Cider, Lost Giants Cider and Bellingham Cider Company, all within the last 18 months. They joined Bellingham’s original cider company, Honey Moon. But Bellingham’s cider scene was missing one thing; a cider-centric tap room.
While Bellingham has evolved past the sweet and dry cider dichotomy, cider drinkers are craving more interesting flavors and cider making techniques. This is where the newest local addition comes in– Thousand Acre Cider House. There’s a coffee shop-esque vibe during the day, and a buzzing taproom feel at night; it’s truly the perfect addition to Bellingham’s downtown happy hour scene. Co-owners, Jenny and James Hagemann, moved from Seattle near the end of 2018. By May of 2019, construction was started for their brain child and newest place for cider (and beer!) drinkers to expand their palettes.
Jenny and James started as just a couple of craft beer nerds. They worked their way through some favorite styles and brewing techniques through attending bottleshares and as Jenny describes it, she snuck a few bottles of ciders into the selection prompting her friends to become more familiar with cider. It was at a Seattle Cider Summit about three years ago that their inspiration was sparked and the idea for the cider house was born.
“For me the inspiration really clicked about what cider could really be when I got to taste some from France and Spain, all from their international selection,” Jenny said of the Cider Summit. “At the time we were hanging out with beer nerds who happened to own a really amazing taproom in Seattle. My passion and interest in cider grew deeper from getting to taste more and being able to have access there [at the Summit], but also watching friends go through the process of opening, managing and growing a similar business made us decide to cut the chord and give this a shot.”
For the last two and a half years, James and Jenny always said to one another, “maybe someday we’ll open a cider taproom.” The combination of cider experiences in more recent months drove the Hagemann’s to make things official. One of the challenges Jenny and James thought of in advance was sourcing. It isn’t as easy to get certain products to Bellingham as it might be to Seattle. Still, with 18 ciders and 6 beers, Thousand Acre manages to have a tap list with something that appeals literally to everyone.
“There’s usually two offerings tops anywhere you go,” Jenny said of the existing cider selection in most taprooms. “Is that a real problem or is that just a problem for us?”
It’s safe to say that those who prefer cider over beer, have a gluten-free diet, or are looking to mix it up, have a harder time in a heavily IPA saturated market. Selection of cider is indeed a problem for many, and Thousand Acre is here to fix it.
“Is there a way to put cider on a pedestal and bring it to the masses?” James said of their motivation to make cider more accessible in Bellingham.
The range of ciders available on draft is unreal. There’s everything from bone dry cider to cider and plum wine blended together and aged in bourbon barrels for two and a half years (that’s a real cider they have!). The wide array of flavors is starting to look a little bit like the evolution of craft beer and the consumer’s willingness and interest in trying new things.
James and Jenny with BBAY Runners // @thousandacreciderhouse
As the Hagemann’s put it, Bellingham is a city of curious drinkers. They’re hoping that curiosity will drive people to check out their Grand Avenue space.
There will always be a few basic ciders on draft that serve as a gateway into more interesting flavors, but Jenny plans to keep the tap list looking well-rounded with a selection of sweet, dry and everything in between. On their menu board, it is indicated if the cider is local. You can also order a Bellingham locals flight, and a Whatcom locals flight, which includes Renaissance Orchards in Ferndale. As the lead buyer, Jenny plans to keep a local focus but not limit the tap list to Pacific Northwest made cider. In the future, she has plans to pull strings and get some incredible international import cider in the tap room as well.
Jenny will always make sure there is a variety of beer on tap for those who just don’t feel the need for a cider. Right now, the beer tap list features Atwood Ales, Menace, Stemma and more.
As for relationships with local cider makers, there are collaborations in the works for Thousand Acre already. With plans to have collaborations from both Bellingham Cider and Lost Giants released by Bellingham Cider Week in early September, it’s clear that the Thousand Acre team is eager to join the cider community and support everyone making craft cider right here in town.
The future also holds a more expansive food program for Thousand Acre. While they never plan on being a full restaurant, there will eventually be small plates and outside food is welcome.
Thousand Acre had their soft opening on Wednesday, August 6. Between now and the grand opening, which will take place the weekend of Sept 6th, you’ll be able to stop in and check it out from noon to midnight, all weekend long. Can’t stay for a cider? Thousand Acre has a killer to go section, making them the first cider bottle shop in Bellingham.
Welcome to this incredible community, Thousand Acre! We’re happy you’re here.