Where the Neighbors Drink

Barn Door Ciderworks keeps it in the backyard

Dan Fowler and Katie Moore invite you for a drink in their own backyard.
Photo by Jack Robert

Barn Door Ciderworks, a backyard bar in Fletcher that uses locally farmed and foraged apples, was opened in November by Dan Fowler — who helped Turgua Brewing in Fairview establish their cider program — and food entrepreneur Katie Moore, developer of the WNC Cheese Festival and Cheese Trail. Barn Door is situated in Moore’s guest house and yard; she prepares a light menu and Fowler does the brewing. Both intend to keep Barn Door local and cozy.

You’e been making cider a long time … 

Dan Fowler: I first started in 1984. My family moved from Alaska to Hood River, Oregon, and it was apple orchards from one side of the valley to the other. … I bought a cider mill, just a little two-basket press so that I could make cider, and we did that every year. When we left Oregon and came to Western North Carolina, we’d still make cider and scrounge up apples from all over the place. About 10 or 15 years ago, I got a lot more serious about cleaning up the cider and making a hard cider that wasn’t so funky and a little more drinkable. It comes out like a dry wine; we use mostly wine yeasts … it’s akin to a German cider, but it’s more of an American traditional style.

Katie Moore: [It’s about] reinvigorating the traditions of cider making. You’re trying to let the apples do their own thing and let them speak for themselves, as opposed to a modern cider where you’re adding all sorts of stuff to the juice to bring out different flavors.

DF: We age them in the barrel, on the lees [post-fermentation particles]. They stay in the barrel for a long time; we are trying to keep them in there for 6-8 months, at least. 

KM: The ciders that we have on tap right now are over a year in the barrel.

Photo by Jack Robert

How did you decide to open a cidery, quite literally, in the backyard?

DF: It’s kind of daunting when you look at some of these bigger cideries, when you look at their facilities — they have huge tanks and big production, and I didn’t really want to do that … [but] seeing Phil [Desenne] at Turgua doing this small-scale brewery out in the middle of the country, I thought, maybe there’s a way to keep it small and not try to attract every tourist that comes through the area, because we just can’t handle that. I think it’s a good model for small, community-based breweries and cideries.

KM: At Turgua, they really created a wonderful space for community for the neighbors, who are hungry for a place to go without having to go all the way into town. … When we first opened, we had neighbors hanging out who lived doors away from each other who were finally talking and meeting. That’s what this space is intended to be.

Barn Door Ciderworks, 23 Lytle Road, Fletcher. Winter hours are Thursday and Friday, 4-7pm; Saturday, 2-7pm; and Sunday, 2-6pm. For more information or to order cider for pickup, visit barndoorcw.com. 

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