By Candice Wagener | Photographed by Sunny Frantz
Brix Cider owners Marie and Matt Raboin started dabbling in home-brewing a decade ago. Combined with the “farming bug” they always felt, starting an orchard seemed like a natural fit. They planted their first trees in Barneveld in 2014, produced their first commercial batch of cider in late 2016 and launched the area’s first cider pub in Mount Horeb this past winter.
With 12 tap lines featured in Brix’s tasting room, cider drinkers can have their fill. Since the trees the Raboins planted on their land have just started producing, they established 18 local partner orchards where they can harvest “seconds,” the blemished, not-quite-perfect fruit left after u-pick season. They have also used apples from retired orchards and wild apples from friends’ farms, though they’re not tied down to apples—their recipes often mix in other fruits, honey and hops, all sourced locally whenever possible.
With a love for experimentation and a belief that every apple has a unique personality, the Raboins rarely make a cider batch twice, unless they stumble upon an extremely popular variety like Hoppy Honey Crisp.
Marie, who works full time as a conservation specialist for Dane County Land Preservation, is extremely passionate about supporting local farms, which is reflected in both the ciders and the farm-to-table menu at Brix. (Fun fact: if you measure the brix of a particular apple juice, you’re actually measuring the juice’s sugar content.)
Every apple used in Brix cider is harvested and pressed by the cidery, and every cider is crafted in small batches. “We really do it from the tree all the way to the table,” Marie says.
All of the Brix ciders are single-origin, meaning the apples in each batch are solely from one orchard. “What I’m most proud of is how place-based our cider is,” she says.