Canning (Fermented) Apples
by Emily Kovach
It’s a modern-day artisan Cinderella story: A hobbyist has a real knack for making the thing he or she is passionate about, parlays that into a small business, hits the market at the right place and time, and launches a successful brand. Despite the fairytale feel of this narrative, this is more or less how Joe Getz, founder and co-owner of Kurant Cider, came into his role as a cider maker.
An avid homebrewer, Getz began dabbling in do-it-yourself wine and cider until those, too, became serious hobbies. He was working at Keystone Homebrew Supply in Montgomeryville, teaching customers about brewing equipment, methods and techniques, all the while honing his own craft. In 2013, Getz and his wife, Molly, had the idea to start their own company and teamed up with a business partner in January of the following year. Together, they began brewing test batches of their dry hard cider, drawing inspiration from European ciders that resemble wines more than the saccharine-sweet American versions. They decided to call their company Kurant, based on a Scandinavian word meaning “now” and pronounced like “current.”
That April, they lost their original business partner, but found another: Michael Meyers, who is still with the company. They finalized on a few outstanding recipes and decided to start production with a “gypsy brewing” model: making product in the facility of a more established operation. In June of 2015, Kurant Cider began renting space in the brewhouse of Round Guys Brewery in Lansdale. That deal only lasted through autumn of the same year.
“Those guys were super great to us, and we learned a lot, but the space was so small, we were kind of in their way and we couldn’t really grow,” Getz says.
In early 2016, they moved their setup to Free Will Brewing Co.’s facility in Perkasie. All the while, the Kurant team worked to build brand awareness at cider and beer festivals. They also began self-distributing to local bars and restaurants, focusing on locations in Philadelphia. Last Thanksgiving, they launched their line of cans, which Getz believes will help them get on more menus.
“The thing about cider is, most bars are only going to have one tap line, maybe two, dedicated to cider, and they rotate those a lot. We are hoping the cans will help with that,” he says. They also signed a wholesale deal with Muller Beverage, one of the bigger beer distributors in the region, which should also broaden their market.
The cans sport a clean, minimalist design: a crisp white background with a modish, abstracted apple design. Getz, who works part-time as a graphic designer, creates all of the art and imagery for Kurant. Their core brand is Bees, “our bread and butter cider,” as Getz says, sweetened with responsibly sourced honey. Earth is a hopped cider that they’ll begin canning this year, and they also develop one special cider for each season. The winter seasonal that launched in December is called Spice, featuring a warming flavor profile of brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg.
Keeping ingredients local is important to Getz. “Right now, we’re using about 95 percent Pennsylvania apples, and the honey we use is sourced from the Lancaster-based company Dutch Gold,” he says. Still a beer brewer at heart, Getz enjoys teaming with local breweries on products such as Drink Me, a wild ale made with apples, in collaboration with Stickman Brews from Royersford.
The future holds Kurant’s most exciting project yet. In late December 2016, they purchased a building on Girard Avenue in Fishtown, where they will build the Kurant Taproom, a tasting room and bar. The space will be home to a small production space, but the plan is to keep the main production space at Free Will Brewing Co.
“We’ll use this as a test kitchen for us to make some cool stuff that’ll only be available there,” Getz says excitedly. The bar, which will also feature craft beers and spirits, will finally give Kurant a home of its own and help introduce its small-batch ciders to a growing base of enthusiasts.