I went to high school in the self-proclaimed “Apple Capital of the World”, AKA Wenatchee, WA. Needless to say, I’ve eaten my fair share of apples. However, it wasn’t until I moved to the potato state, that I became an apple fanatic. All it took was one trip to Meriwether Cider in Garden City, and I was hooked. It’s a little known secret everyone knows about, and I for one am a huge fan.
The first time I went to Meriwether was about a year ago. My friend who had been to Barbarian Brewery (just a couple doors down from Meriwether) told me about this amazing cider house. At that point, I had never been to a cidery but had had a couple different brands of bottled hard cider. I wasn’t super pumped to go because most all cider let down with how sweet they were, even the “dry” ones. When I went to Meriwether for the first time, I realized I had found my happy place. All their ciders are 6.9% ABV and lean towards the dry variety. Even their semi-sweet cider isn’t too sweet.
The cidery is owned and operated by the Leadbetter family. During the week, the odds of seeing one if not all of the Leadbetters working are about 99.9%, and every single one of them are absolutely charming and inviting. The Leadbetter family members are Gig (dad), Ann (mom), Kate (older sister/daughter) and Molly (youngest sister/daughter).
The Leadbetters are originally from Colorado where both Gig and Ann worked as professors. They’ve always been an outdoor family who climbed, skied, rafted and hiked all over. Eventually, Kate and Molly came to the Treasure Valley to attend The College of Idaho, which eventually brought Gig and Ann to the area as well. And boy, am I glad they moved because I don’t know where else I’d get my apple a day.
I have spoken with Kate the most and learned a few things about their cider and business. Kate has most of the flavor ideas for the cider, but everyone in the family has their pet flavors. As Molly said, “The beauty of cider is it’s so versatile that if you can dream it you can make it.” A few particularly delicious seasonal cider offerings include: Gin & Juice, Cinnamon Smoke, Cherry Thyme Bomb, Plum Dandy, Wake Up & Dance and The Meribarbarian. Of course their regular flavors are amazing as well.
The flavors on tap as of my visit last week included: Hop Shot, Ginger Root, Semi-dry, Lemon Basil Slushy and Blackberry Boom. This order is also my ranking from “favorite” to “of course I’ll drink it, but not my favorite.” I love the Hop Shot cider because it is very dry and has a strong hint of hops at the beginning. It makes you question if they poured the wrong beverage, but you’ll be glad they gave you whatever it is you’re drinking. What’s fun is they mix flavors as well, so the slushy with the Hop Shot is TO DIE FOR. I mean it. Best drink ever.
My obvious love for this place is shared with the cider drinkers across the country. Meriwether has won five awards in 2016 and they’ve only been open for a year and a half! They were voted “Best Newcomer” by SIP Northwest, their Gin & Juice cider won bronze at the Pacific Northwest Cider Awards, and at the San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition the Foothills Semi-Dry won silver and Plum Dandy and Hop Shot won bronze.
If you’re not into cider or chatting with the badass Leadbetters, you can still have a good time. There have been nights when I’ve gone in to read or just hang out because the atmosphere there is so chill. If I’m not feeling a cider, then I order a beer or Kombucha from the tap and find myself a cozy spot on their homemade furniture, making me feel like I’m in the Leadbetter’s hip, modern cabin.
Now here’s what you need to do. Drop what you’re doing, grab your ID and get yourself to Meriwether. Once you’re there get a flight of all the ciders on tap and find your drink of choice. I’ve seen many a beer-drinker delightfully surprised by just how delicious these ciders are. I promise you won’t be disappointed.
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Meriwether Cider Company
5242 W Chinden Blvd.
Garden City, ID 83714