Original 13 Ciderworks sets opening in Kensington

The crew at Original 13 Ciderworks (from left): Jack Sanders, John Kowchak, Mallory Fredericks, Clint Holmes, Maddie Bird, and chef Will Rogers.

The city’s hard-cider scene is getting ready to pour it on.

Original 13 Ciderworks, set up in a hundred-year-old former train depot at 1526 N. American St. in Kensington, has set Oct. 19 as its public opening.

Sir Charles Hard Cider, the flagship brand, is named after the grandfather of founder John Kowchak, who lived upstate and each year made a 50-gallon batch of cider and delivered it to friends in milk jugs on Christmas Eve.

This is Kowchak’s second go-round. Original 13 launched in 2014 by using a winery under contract. A year later, the winery filed for bankruptcy protection and new owners had no interest in contract brewing. Kowchak and partners found the Kensington building — whose railroad tracks are still visible on the floor — in December 2015.

You can watch the cidermaking process and enjoy farm-to-table chow by chef Will Rogers (ex-Watkins Drinkery, Pumpkin) in the rough-hewn tasting room.

Three of the main Sir Charles ciders (Sir Charles Original, Deep Blueberry Sea, and On Wings of Cherry) will be on tap at the opening, and Strawberry Valkyrie is due shortly after.

Cidermaker Clint Holmes has a 160-barrel system including a full mill and press (to allow them to produce their own fruit) and a cross-flow filter (a $75,000 thingie that helps create a clear, shelf-stable cider without the use of environmentally undesirable filter pads).

Original 13’s bar also will pour Pennsylvania-made wine, beer, and spirits, but — as they say in the apple game — cider is the core of the business.

These are heady times for cider: Coming up later this year is Hale & True (at 613 S. Seventh St. in Bella Vista) and, in early 2018, Kurant Cider (at 436 E. Girard Ave. in Fishtown).

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