Our story begins over 70 years ago with founder John Kowchak’s grandfather, Charles, and the apple orchards of North-East Pennsylvania. Charles grew up an orphan and spent his summers working the apple orchards as a way of making money. It was during this time he learned to brew the best tasting hard cider, made from fresh pressed local Pennsylvania apples. Over the next few decades he perfected his techniques by brewing up an annual batch of cider using a 50 gallon drum he stored in his basement. Each year, he would bottle his hard cider in milk jugs he collected over the course of the year, and then on Christmas Eve he would travel around his neighborhood leaving gallons of his fresh hard cider for his neighbors as gifts. When the winter nights got extra cold, he would often take some cider outside and let it freeze into what the locals called “Jersey Lightning,” but we know it better as Applejack.
As he got older, John began to practice his own home brewing, and remembered the great cider his grandfather used to make. John decided to honor his grandfather’s legacy by brewing great hard cider with the name “Sir Charles,” after the man who started it all. After graduating from Drexel University with an MBA in Entrepreneurship, he traveled to England to study the art of making traditional hard cider. He graduated from the International Hard Cider and Perry Academy in 2012 and formed Original 13 in 2013.
Sir Charles, our flagship cider, launched in 2014, and is the original Philly hard cider. Our flagship cider is brewed in an English style using a blend regionally grown apples. Based on John’s grandfather’s recipe, we brew it with a French champagne yeast to give it a light and refreshing body. The final brew is crisp and refreshing and full of apple flavor, but unlike other ciders it contains just a hint of sweetness with no lingering aftertaste. As soon as our cidery is up and running, we plan to roll out the original Sir Charles Cider, as well as three brand new brews: Strawberry Valkyrie, Deep Blueberry Sea, and On Wings of Cherry.
All four will be available on tap at local establishments, and for sale in our restaurant and tasting room. In addition to our four main ciders, we will also run specialty and limited edition ciders carrying the Original 13 brand in our tasting room and restaurant. These will be where we let our creative juices flow, and we hope to bring you some of the most unique and exciting local ciders under the Original 13 name.
We first launched Sir Charles hard cider in the fall of 2014. When we first launched, we rented space from a local winery to brew our cider as it was the most cost effective option for us at the time. One year after the launch of Sir Charles, however, the winery ran into financial troubles and was sold to a new owner; our brewing contract was canceled immediately, and because we did not own our own winery, we were not permitted to take possession of our own cider. This setback forced us to cease production and re-evaluate the future of Original 13. Obviously we could have called it a day but after an incredible launch and the support from our fans and friends, we decided to buckle down and push in all the chips. Our goal now is to establish our own production facility, free from any 3rd party contractor, and establish a tasting room in the heart of Philadelphia where we can share our ciders with those who are passionate about real craft cider, perry, and mead.
Today we are just about ready to open our very own cidery in the heart of Olde Kensington! While we have secured most of our funding for the facility and are on track to have the cidery up and running this month, we now want to invest a little bit more into our tasting room kitchen. We are looking to upgrade our kitchen from our original plans in order to provide the best possible gluten-free food options and service to match our fantastic cider offerings. Specifically, we are seeking $8,500 to cover the cost of our range, one of the most significant expenses associated which our kitchen. Any money raised beyond that goal will go to cover unexpected costs which may arise during the construction of the kitchen.
Risks and challenges
Our biggest challenge right now is dealing with permits and licensing through the City of Philadelphia. Any major delays which have or will come up throughout the course of our project are generally due to permit delays, inspection delays, or licensing issues. We are prepared to deal with these challenges as they come, and are confident that we will overcome them.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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