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Brix Cider

Mount Horeb, WI

 

Crusin’ Rating: C-

Booze Rating: B-

 
Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Blogger- Brix Cider Outside

Just a short twenty minutes or so south along Highway 18 will bring you to the village of Mt. Horeb, WI which boats itself to be the troll capital of the world! No, not the internet kind of trolls, nor the the chubbies kind with colorful hairdos, but rather the kind found in Norweigan folklore. What do trolls have to do with today’s visit? Absolutely nothing. In fact, other than some things named after trolls (such as the brewpub for a future article) I have always been iffy on what trolls have to do with anything other than a town mascot for Mt. Horeb. Ignoring the Chamber of Commerce antics, our visit this week was to Brix Cider located a stone’s throw from main street and quite literally next door to the corporate headquarters of Duluth Trading Company. Downtown Mt. Horeb is quite small which is nice for a foray into booze territory, especially in the warmer months, because you can walk just about anywhere.


I was all sorts of hype when I first heard about Brix Cider opening, and for the sake of this review, there are going to be a lot of comparisons to Hidden Cave Cidery in Middleton, WI. While the vibe is different between both spots, a lot of the things they are doing with their cider as well as their story follow the same sort of tune.


First off, the outside of Brix features a colorful, playful sign on an otherwise brick facade. I can never shake the feeling that the sign and building always remind me of one of the ritzy preschools that are all over Madison and its suburbs. The building was built just a few years ago (I believe 2018 but I couldn’t verify this) and with the brick facade it could be fifty years old or built yesterday, brick is always timeless which is great.



Stepping inside though is a different story. There is both a lot going on in the large, bright space, and yet not enough coherency. There are huge, colorful chalkboards that feature the ciders, beverages, and food options. Those are great and really they fit with this sort of school theme they have going but that’s where it kind of ends. The tables are all mismatched with what looks like reclaimed dining chairs, school chairs, and chairs from all over the place. There are live edge wood tables mixed in with standard restaurant tables and maybe some reclaimed tables as well. It ended up looking a little bit too much like an estate sale. I am all for reclaimed furniture. Hannah’s mom runs a slick little operation and does some excellent work. Case in point, the Crusin For Booze bar is an estate sale piece refinished and outfitted with glass. There is definitely room for business to do this sort of thing, but if you’re going to do it, maybe paint? Stain? Do something so that everything matches?



Okay, maybe you think I’m being picky on the furniture so I’ll move on. There seems to be the same sort of slightly thrifty haphazardness throughout the rest of the space as well from the art, to the random bicycle on the wall all the way to the mic night that I’m sure was waiting for a poetry slam. Neither of us could get over the feeling that we had walked in to another hipster coffee spot fit for any San Diego street.


That doesn’t mean that they aren’t doing good things here. I’ve done a little research and found that they are about as farm-to-table as you could reasonably be with their cider. Brix has its own orchards and anything (outside of things like bitters) they try and source within 60 miles of the Cidery. The food as well, while pretty costly, is all in the same vein; sourced locally as possible. That’s always a plus in our book and we were both bummed that the space was so dissonant to the idea behind the cidery. If things were just a little more organized and stuck with a color palette and similar materials, I think we both would be ranking the vibe much higher.


We only tried four ciders here because, honestly, it was getting to be a costly trip for somewhere we didn’t want to spend more than an hour. The flights were $12.00 which is pretty insane. Cider is more expensive to produce, so we can’t really compare it to a beer flight. But, what we still consider to be possibly the best cider in Wisconsin, The Cider Farm, only charges $11.00 for a flight of the same size samples (4oz). I think it’s fair to say then that this cider is overpriced, even though it is enjoyable. Hannah got a flatbread pizza to snack on and with that costing $14.00 we were already at $30 with a tip included for cider and a snack which was just a little too steep for what we got, regardless if the dough is made on site or not.


Crusin For Booze- Wisconsin Travel Blogger- Brix Cider- Cider Flight

On to the cider. Brix has a plethora of coffee and non-alcoholic options, beer, wine but no full bar.

**Please note: we did not see any ABV’s posted nor could they be found on the website :(


Sittin’ on a Rainbow - This cider was a grapefruit shade of orange-pink and smelled of not-too-sweet apple juice. A surprising mixture of cider and concord grapes, two flavors that aren’t often combined, had a nice, pleasant sweetness and you could definitely taste a little of that deep, deep flavor of the concord grapes that gave away to just a little bit of tartness and tannins that you get from eating one straight off the vine. A surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one.


Currant - This bright ruby red cider smelled suspiciously of juice cocktail. There were definitely currant aromas but we got a little cranberry mixed in there. Current forward in flavor with a tannic, dry finish. If you’re longing for a fruited cider that puts the apples on the back-burner then this is a solid option. I was intrigued as I thought this would end up being a lot sweeter based on the smell and was proven wrong which was oddly enough, the better outcome. A solid fruited cider.


Light and Stormy - This is one I had to try. A cider riff off of one of my favorite cocktails, Hannah scrunched her nose at her old nemesis, ginger root (I have similar feelings toward cilantro but, thankfully, it rarely appears in imbibements). This cider was a lager gold in color with some brilliant clarity. It smelled strongly of ginger with just a little note of charred oak since this was aged in barrels from a local distillery (Yahara Bay). I thought it tasted like a light, perhaps diet, ginger beer. It started of slightly sweet and then there was ginger presence, but there wasn’t that spicy bite you often get from the fancier ginger beers or straight ginger root. I was a little disappointed that the rum did not come through and even more so that there was no notes of lime (to be fair there were none advertised, but still, Dark and Stormy, guys).


Old Fashioned - We both had high hopes for this light pink cider, (really more of a coral shade). Both of us only got orange bitters on the nose and neither of us tasted to much of anything. Maybe, if you really looked you could find a little cider, maybe a little cherry but that was it. It was curious that they didn't use straight orange, some cherries, and angostura bitters. It may be because oranges can’t really be sourced from Wisconsin but I would have rather an exception be made for a cider like this. A solid miss for us both.


You know, we really like what they are doing, keeping it all Wisconsin. The closest cider comparison is going to be Hidden Cave Cidery in Middleton because both of these places are making cocktail ciders, experimenting, and adding flavors to ciders that you would never really think of. It invites comparison and Hannah and I both agreed that Brix has the stronger showing between the two for unconventional ciders however I would venture to say that the vibe is higher at Hidden Cave. Neither of us could get over the coffee shop feeling and neither of us could get over the fact that we were in Mt. Horeb paying prices like this. The truth is, Brix is fairly niche in its appeal (not so much in Madison, but still) and feels a little out of place in the town. We are big fans of another review that will come up this year, the Grumpy Troll, and that is literally a solid swing of a chipping wedge down the block. In our eyes they have stiff competition. If you’re in Madison, sure, go and check Brix out. Some of their ciders can be really fun, however, make sure you bring your wallet as there wasn’t even something snacky for under $10.00, which was a shame.


If you’re visiting Madison, it’s a short day trip and adds to what can be explored on the West side. It’s (Mt. Horeb) even been a detour for us on the way back from the Dells. I can’t recommend you travel from anything more than thirty minutes though.


Remember, keep on Crusin’, don’t stop boozin’.


To learn more about Brix Cider, please visit their webiste at: brixcider.com or on Facebook: @BrixCider or on Instagram: @BrixCider

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