Inspired by the wild

Restoration Cider’s noble mission
By Traci Phillips | Photographed by Kaia Calhoun

Finding the natural beauty of Southwestern Wisconsin’s Driftless Area therapeutic, Restoration Cider owners Paul Asper and Lissa Koop pay homage to their love of the outdoors with the name and guiding mission of their business. Asper is an emergency room nurse and Koop is an attorney, but they now spend their after-work hours transforming apples into Madison’s newest craft cider.


Restoration Cider comes in two varieties. Starkwater, an ultra-dry cider named for the creek that cuts through Madison, weighs in at 7 percent alcohol by volume and is incredibly versatile with food. It can balance spice and enhance sweetness in equal measure. Sugar River is a semi-dry cider which complements caramelized flavors or refreshes the palate after a wedge of blue cheese, thanks to the jigger of fresh-pressed apple juice added post-fermentation.


Asper and Koop had considered cider to be more of dessert beverage, finding it too sweet for most occasions. Then, on a 2011 trip abroad they discovered Spain’s incredibly dry ciders with a champagne crispness that appealed. Returning home to Madison—and post-active duty in the Wisconsin Air National Guard—Asper found a bit of serenity in their favorite part of Wisconsin via fly fishing, then got busy brewing the apple bubbly. Koop found the customers and today steers Restoration’s communications and promotion.


This small but mighty cider company has noble dreams for the future. Their long-term goal is to donate 5 percent of the company’s profits to organizations committed to stream restoration and preservation in the Driftless area. Asper and Koop have already raised over $1,000 for Clean Wisconsin and the River Alliance of Wisconsin. Happy fishing!

Restoration Cider is currently on tap at several Madison locations including Brasserie V, Gib’s, Heritage and Merchant. For a complete list, visit: restorationcider.com.

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