Now open: Pux Cider Taproom brings heirloom style, farm feel to Grand Rapids

GRAND RAPIDS, me. (WOOD) – A family who have grown apples in the Sparta region for nearly 160 years bring a taste of their orchards to the Midtown neighborhood of Grand Rapids.

The Pux Cider Taphouse opened on Thursday afternoon.

“We just want people to know what cider is. Not only is it your sweet sugary drink, it’s a little more complex and has a lot more character than I think a lot of people know. We are happy to be able to share this with people who may not know that much about cider, ”said managing director Andy Schaefer.

The owners and contractors have spent more than a year building the former office space at 311 Fuller Ave. NW near Michigan Street to convert into a tasting room. They ripped out work areas and carpets and added plumbing, a second bathroom, bar, tables and a new ventilation system, which Schäfer said should change the air every 10 minutes. Outside, the crews tore off rotting wood paneling to expose bricks, which they painted. According to co-owner Christopher Schaefer, who also lives down the street, they have also accelerated plans to install a concrete terrace overlooking Fuller Park, which will eventually host live events.

(A February 2021 photo shows the outdoor deck at the Pux Cider Taphouse on Fuller Avenue NW in Grand Rapids.)

“We made plans based on real life and then that kind of thing got mixed up. And so … we have adapted a lot, ”said Andy Schaefer.

Before the pandemic, Pux Cider had planned to open its taproom in May 2020. Andy Schaefer says the family business, Schaefer Cider Co.survived the financial blow of one delayed opening due to a slight impact on apple sales through distributors.

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“I think a lot more people stay at home, so a lot more people buy things in stores and bring them home. That went up a bit, (and) that was kind of nice, ”he explained.

IN THE BEDROOM

Elements from the Schäfer family’s farm are interwoven throughout the urban space of the tasting room.

Wood and steel joints from retired apple crates wrap around the bar and nearby walls. The letters and numbers on the wood indicate their history.

“(The joints) were very weathered because they are on boxes from 1961 and 1980. Those are these numbers,” said Schäfer. “WHAT was WA Schafer. This is our great-grandfather’s farm. “

Barrel staves curl above the floating ceiling above the bar, and a string of lights that imitates barrel rings hangs above the tasting room.

(Andy Schaefer and a neighbor put the finishing touches on Pux Cider Taphouse the day before it opened.)

Andy Schaefer said the red wooden panels used for outdoor patio fences and indoor merchandise displays came from a flatbed truck on the farm.

“We want the place to feel like it’s comfortable, like they can hang out, enjoy good drinks and have good conversations. We want to… bring some of the things we grew up with in our home to town and have the people who enjoy it with us, ”he said.

Colorful pieces by the artist Grand Rapids Reb Roberts spill over the main taproom wall.

“It really takes the place up a notch, I think,” said Andy Schaefer.

(The work of the famous folk artist Reb Roberts of Grand Rapids is available for purchase on the wall of the Pux Cider Taphouse.)

Each artwork was created in Roberts’ signature style, which is also visible on power boxes and public spaces in Grand Rapids.

“It just brightens my day … makes me smile. And that’s exactly what is fun, ”said Andy Schaefer.

Roberts will have private screenings in the taproom. Any piece that hangs in the store can be bought.

The tap house furniture may be familiar to some craft beer lovers. Andy Schaefer said they reused tables and chairs from the former Arcadia Brewing Company in Battle Creek.

CREATE A STANDOUT MENU

Andy Schaefer said while Pux Cider favorites will be available, the Tap House will primarily focus on hard ciders that cannot be found in stores, including experimental blends and beers made from only one variety of apple.

“There are a lot of hard ciders out there and you have to do something to stand out from the crowd. That’s why we like to look at what everyone else is doing and say, “OK, that’s already done. Let’s try to do something a little more unique, ”he added.

Christopher Schaefer said the tap house will serve a mojito-inspired cider cocktail as well as a warmed clove must that has matured in bourbon barrels with orange liqueur.

(Pux Cider lines the shelves in the Schaefer family’s new tap house in Grand Rapids.)

The start menu also includes Pux’s Orchard Brut und Rose ‘as well as pineapple-cherry, mojito-mint, raspberry-lime and a cinnamon-ginger-pear apple cider. Schaefer said he won second place in the world’s largest cider competition.

While the Schaefer family has owned around 300 acres of orchards in the Conklin and Sparta areas since the 1850s, their hard cider business is relatively new.

“About seven years ago we started going into the hard cider business for fun,” said Schäfer. “It just seemed like a good market to share our passion for.”

(A friend propped up the bar at the Pux Cider Taphouse on the eve of its gentle opening.)

What began as an experiment with friends and family branched out into another business for the Schaefers. Pux Cider is now sold throughout West Michigan and the Detroit area.

The cider industry has grown significantly over the past five years Michigan Cider AssociationOur state moved from 15 companies that focused on cider to about 22 companies. This does not apply to the numerous wineries in Michigan that also produce their own hard cider wines.

According to Schäfer, Pux Cider is getting rid of the pack by focusing on hard cider made from a small portion of the apples grown in the family’s orchard.

“We like to use a lot of heirloom apples that are a little harder to come by. And since we actually grow them, that’s something more unique that sets us apart from others. Some of the other types may get some of the strains, but we probably have the widest range … to choose from. So we can control our mixes much better, ”he explained.

The tasting room works with the neighboring Cheese Lady’s shop to pair dishes and has some of its own snacks that will be available in the coming days.

PANDEMIC PROTOCOL

Pux Cider Taphouse is ready to follow COVID-19 safety guidelines.

“We’ll go straight to the letter recommended by the health department,” said Schäfer.

This includes promoting social distancing and adhering to capacity constraints, which will limit the number of customers to 24 on the opening weekend.

Guests must wear a mask when not sitting and drinking. Hand sanitizer will also be available.

The Pux Cider Taproom is open Thursday through Sunday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. The company plans to open its terrace to guests in the spring. The taproom also sells take-away ciders and eventually offers online orders on its website. https://puxcider.com/

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