By Cassidy DeStefano, news correspondent
Local brewery Downeast Cider is moving headquarters this autumn as it prepares to launch a new production plant flanking the harbor in East Boston.
“We ran out of space at our first Massachusetts location much more quickly than expected,” Chief Operating Officer (COO) Matt Brockman said. He added that the current building, located at 200 Terminal St. in Charlestown, will primarily host small batch production and special events from this point forward.
The new space, which has previously served as both steel and shipbuilding factories, will be the new hub for large batches and site tours.
“It needs a lot of work,” Brockman said. “Right now it’s basically just a shell.”
Downeast’s unconventional aesthetic extends from its new space to its flavor selection and overall taste, according to co-founder Ross Brockman, Matt Brockman’s brother.
“This isn’t the cider your parents drink,” Ross Brockman said, adding that Downeast enjoys considerable attention from college and postgraduate students.
Downeast emphasizes its one-product mentality, serving up several variations of the beverage ranging from their original flagship flavor to a range of seasonal blends in an effort to compete with other cider powerhouses.
“Right now, Angry Orchard is the biggest supplier of cider, but Woodchuck Cider has also emerged,” Ross Brockman said. “There’s definitely demand for cider and people want something different.”
Downeast’s specialty flavors include Pumpkin for fall, cinnamon undertones for winter and maple-based blends for spring. Four packs of the product go for about $9, with packs of nine available for about $15.
“Younger people are generally more open to new and different experiences – whether it’s clothing or cider,” Ross Brockman said of Downeast’s unique tastes, which include jalapeño and honey. “It’s a lot easier for someone who’s just turning 21 to look at the landscape of their options as opposed to someone who has been drinking Budweiser for 30 years.”
Ross Brockman launched Downeast with co-founder and fellow Bates College student Tyler Mosher in January of 2012 after a year of experimenting in Mosher’s family’s apple orchard in Waterville, Maine. He said he never imagined that what started as a dorm room operation with a buddy would soon grow to become a competitor in the hard cider market.
“It was sort of as simple as us sitting down at dinner with my friend Tyler’s dad and him knowing that we had this weird apple thing going on,” Ross Brockman said. “We had nothing else going on; we were at a liberal arts school with no set profession.”
After working out of a 1,500-square-foot abandoned shirt factory for the first six months, a rough harvest season stifled Downeast’s access to resources. According to Matt, the company moved to Massachusetts to be closer to its new apple supplier.
The new Downeast facility sits within 30 minutes of the Northeastern campus, which led the Brockman brothers to open their company up to co-ops.
“We are waiting for applications for that right now. It will be our first,” Matt Brockman said. “We are looking for a lab technician to assist with quality control and quality assurance tasks such as microbiological testing, fermentation monitoring and other data collection.”
Junior Keira Lynch, a marketing major at Northeastern and a native of Ireland, is a prospective applicant to Downeast’s co-op position.
“With everyone being young, a lot of people are interested in that kind of area,” Lynch said. “We have Guinesses and also the Diageo Graduate Program (DGP) at home, and this is definitely an area that I’m interested in.”
Lynch added that experience at Downeast could allow her to potentially break into one of these two programs in Ireland. According to the DGP website, graduate students can apply for placement in marketing, sales, human resources, finance or supply concentrations.
From its current base in Charlestown, Downeast has expanded its circulation to include New York, New Jersey and almost the entire New England region, Matt Brockman said.
Northeastern student Adhav Sairamgandhi, a graduate student in the telecommunications systems management program, said he enjoys the product.
“I think I had the traditional flavor,” Sairamgandhi said. “It was light, crisp. I definitely prefer it to Angry Orchard.”
Ross Brockman also stressed Downeast’s commitment to community outreach events, such as charity concerts and exhibitions for local artists, adding the company will continue to rent out its locations for these types of initiatives.
“As you would throw a house party, we would throw a house party,” Ross Brockman said. “But our house is a little bit bigger with a lot more alcohol.”
Photo courtesy Matt Brockman