If you needed proof that cideries are the new breweries, here it is: Stem Ciders is in such high demand that it’s expanding to a 12-acre property in Lafayette. But the aptly named Acreage, which opens on February 24, isn’t just a production facility. It’s also a cider house—there are 24 on tap—and a restaurant, with Daniel Asher (River and Woods) at the helm. (Kelly Whitaker’s Id Est. Hospitality Group consulted on the project as well.)
Stem Ciders first opened in RiNo in January 2014, with three ciders on tap. It’s since expanded its offerings and is known for its barrel-aged varieties and creative collaborations with local purveyors such as the Real Dill and Novo Coffee. Acreage will allow Stem to continue to grow: The cidery will have the capacity to produce upwards of 70,000 barrels per year compared to the current 20,000. (The original RiNo taproom will remain, and they’ll make some special products that will only be available at that location.) Acreage will also serve Colorado wines, on tap and by the bottle. For nondrinkers, the tart apple juice is stellar. In a 21st century nod, the drink menus will be projected onto the walls.
Whereas the RiNo space only served food truck offerings, Acreage has a large restaurant space. It’s an order-at-the-counter set up, and guests can also grab a cider there instead of having to make a separate trip to the bar. The menu is rustic and feels familiar—burgers, sausages, a beet salad—with dishes, many of which are cooked over a wood fire, plated cleanly and elegantly. Asher says he wanted to capture the “beautiful simplicity of food executed properly.” He focused on finding the best purveyors, many local, others from as far away as Spain.
There’s a clear European influence with the tinned seafood and jamón Ibérico, but most of the menu is what Asher calls a “Front Range-focused, modern American cider experience.” Every item except the burger buns is gluten-free, including the cast-iron cornbread (served with pimento cheese). Many dishes incorporate Stem’s ciders or apples in some way, such as the house aïoli made with Big B’s apple cider vinegar from Hotchkiss, and the you’ll-want-to-drink-it mussels broth, which combines Stem’s Real Dry Apple Cider, coconut milk, and white miso.
The minimalist space is designed for community. There’s a long, south-facing bar with a garage door that opens out to additional seating. The wood booths are built lower than usual to avoid blocking panoramic views of the Front Range and the large deck with picnic tables and fire pits. And there’s a subway-tiled wall behind shelves of grab-your-own water, hot sauces, and growlers ready to be filled with cider.
When the soil thaws, Eric Foster, co-founder and CEO of Stem Ciders, and his team are going to plant an apple orchard that travels down the hill. There are also plans for a cidery garden, where they’ll grow many of the restaurant’s vegetables. The restroom entrances actually overlook the production facility, so visitors can give themselves a self-guided tour and see how Stem Ciders is actually made. “It’s an opportunity for the consumer to really understand cider—from the tree to the [food] pairing,” Foster says. “The land drove us here.”
Acreage will be open from 3 to 10 p.m. on weekdays, and noon to 10 p.m. on weekends. The same menu will be available all day. Opening weekend will have reduced hours, from 5 to 10 p.m.
1380 Horizon Ave., Unit A, Lafayette, 720-443-3007