Armada, MI — Although Blake’s Farms in Armada has been a major player in the apple business since 1946, its offspring, Blake’s Hard Cider, wasn’t launched until 2013. Three years later the quirky maker of “Flannel Mouth,” “Beard Bender,” “El Chapo” and a dozen other popular hard cider flavors has grown up fast, zooming to national recognition as one of the premier hard cider brands in the country.
In 2016 Blake’s Hard Cider recorded triple digit growth in sales and volume producing more than 23,000 barrels of its distinctive and obviously popular brews. Its ‘Blake’s Tasting Room’ was voted “one of the best bars in America” last year by Esquire Magazine.
“It’s been a wild, fast ride and we’re thrilled with the acceptance our ciders have received in the market,” said Blake’s Founder and Co-Owner Andrew Blake. “Being available in major regional and national chains like Kroger and Meijer has helped build awareness of our brand and has been crucial to our overall success. Meanwhile, if we continue to concentrate on using the best, freshest ingredients and our proprietary processes, we think we can continue to win new customers.”
Blake said the cidery is plowing its profits immediately back into the business to add a 12,000-sq-ft tank farm which will expand the company’s cider production to 25,000 barrels annually, up from 12,000 barrels annually now. In addition to the tank farm, the company has invested in state-of-the-art brewing software and production materials to ensure absolute quality control and product consistency.
Hard cider, which has been around since the Dark Ages and was a favorite drink of men like Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin and Abraham Lincoln, has in recent years become the fastest growing segment of the beer and flavored malt beverage industry with nearly a billion dollars in sales in 2015. But even with that growth, hard cider still represents less than two percent of beer sales so still has lots of room to grow. Hard Cider’s fast growth and popularity is attributed in part to its use of fresh, gluten free ingredients and lack of sweeteners and additives.
“We’re excited about the business and its future,” says Andrew Blake. “We’ve just introduced our elderberry and vanilla infused Archimedes brand and our Grizzly Pear prickly pear hard cider is coming in early 2017. This is a great time to be in a growing market and we plan to continue pushing the boundaries of hard cider to stay ahead of the competition. We are ready and positioned to triple our volume again in 2017 to meet market demand for our products.”
Blake’s geographic footprint is also expanding. Initial shipments are headed to Minnesota in the first week of January, with at least three additional states expected to be added in the coming months.
Blake’s Farms represents generations of know-how and passion for apple-based products. The farm is home to 45,600 apple trees, 42 apple varieties, and 19 varieties of hard cider. Blake’s hard cider products, which are gluten-free and come from pure Michigan grown apples, are available in six-pack cans or on draught in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin and Kansas. For further information go to www.blakeshardcider.com