Inside Artifact Cider’s new taproom in Florence
By LUIS FIELDMAN, The Recorder, August 7, 2019
Artifact Cider Project officially opens its newly constructed taproom Thursday, giving the public a look into the craft cider company’s production cellar as well as selections not found on store shelves.
“We celebrated our five-year anniversary last month, and we’ve always wanted to have a taproom,” said Jake Mazar of Amherst, who co-owns Artifact with childhood friend Soham Bhatt, who lives in Cambridge. “It’s a place for people to come share ciders with us. We are beyond excited to be opening the doors.”
The taproom is holding a preview weekend this Saturday and Sunday.
Artifact originally opened in Springfield on Gasoline Alley in 2014 before moving to Everett, where the company grew from producing 500 gallons of cider to making more than 40,000 gallons of cider.
Mazar, the business manager, and Bhatt, the chief cider maker, decided to move operations back to western Massachusetts last year, and its Florence location has housed all production capabilities since February, where they plan to produce up to 100,000 gallons this year.
“We really wanted a space that is warm, welcoming and fun,” Mazar said of the taproom. “It’s a place not only for cider fanatics but also for someone nearby wanting to come by for a drink and food.”
The taproom, located at 34 North Maple St., is just off the rail trail and has an eye-catching white wall painted with green streaks that can be seen when the facility’s garage door is open.
The 850-square-foot space has high-top tables, white walls and large windows for a bright ambiance. The taproom has a seating capacity of 46, and gives patrons a view of the large metal tanks in the production cellar.
The taproom is rigged with 14 tap lines that will feature its popular ciders alongside special ciders Mazar called “cellar projects” — ciders that have not been available to the general public and have been kept in reserve specifically for the taproom. There will also be non-alcoholic ciders on draft. “Cider can be broad and diverse, and we have a lot of options available to showcase that,” Mazar said. “In this facility, we can do more small batch, experimental ciders than we have ever been able to do.”
On opening weekend, Mazar said there will be seven drinks on draft, two of which will be cellar projects. Long-running ciders such as Wild Thing and Feels Like Home will be joined by ciders not found in stores such as Rox, and Between a Rock and a Hard Place.
Wild Thing ($7 for 16 ounces), made from 100 percent McIntosh apples, is an easy-drinking cider that “invokes apple picking in the fall,” Mazar said. It has an acid-forward and semi-sweet taste.
Made with cider fermented on rum-soaked oak chips, Feels Like Home ($7 for 16 ounces) is another popular, long-running cider that has a more balanced flavor profile than Wild Thing. It’s a little sweeter, unfiltered and with a hazy but less acidic taste.
A new cider that Artifact released in July, Magic Hour ($7 for 16 ounces), will also be on tap. Made from McIntosh and English bittersweet apples, the cider has depth and complexity due to the yeasts used for fermentation that were found naturally in the apple orchards.
Rox ($8 for a 6 ounce glass), an Artifact cellar project, is made from 100 percent Roxbury Russet apples, which was the first variety of apples discovered in the United States. Between a Rock and a Hard Place ($8 for 6 ounces), another cellar project, is fermented and aged in oak barrels and made from apples harvested in 2016.
“We have a forward-looking, modern approach to cider-making that still highlights apples and is not dependent on other flavors,” Mazar said. “We joke that we make ciderflavored cider.” The cider-making company’s main supplier is Pine Hill Orchard in Colrain, which also presses their apples. Other suppliers come from farms in New Hampshire, Massachusetts, southern Vermont and eastern New York.
Artifact is partnering with Wheelhouse, a farm-to-table caterer and food truck in Amherst that Mazar co-founded and co-owns, to provide seasonal flatbreads and snacks.
Currently, Artifact sells in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Maine.
Luis Fieldman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org