Government shutdown delays opening of new cidery

Government shutdown delays opening of new cidery

Photo by Greta Pittard Wright

by Kristina Rosen

Wise Bird Cider Co. finally received federal approval to start making hard cider. Due to the government shutdown, owners Tim Wight and Greta Pittard Wright were unable to obtain their federal, state or local alcohol license.

Photo by Greta Pittard Wright

During the 35-day shutdown, The Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau was closed, which gives licenses to breweries, distilleries and wineries to manufacture alcohol.

Once Wise Bird Cider receives its state and local licenses, apple juice can go in the tank and fermenting can begin. This process should’ve began three weeks ago, pushing the cidery a month behind schedule. The new opening date is now slated for May or June. 

The shutdown didn’t affect work on the interior of the space. As soon as you walk in, there is a lounge area with reclaimed timber from an old thoroughbred farm from Old World Timber and German beer garden tables from a shop in Louisville. A short wall separates the barrels and tanks from the lounge, but the space still allows for guests to see the cider process on display. Behind the lounge is a bar with shelves made of old Jim Beam boards, where you can actually see where the barrels were rolled on the wood.

Photo by Greta Pittard Wright

The 4,000-square foot space features a patio that overlooks the creek and garage-style doors that will roll up during the warmer months. There will be rows of barrels for barrel aging and another more comfortable lounge area towards the back. Along the wall overlooking the creek will be a secondary bar with hanging pendant light. There’s a warming kitchen in the back where all a limited food menu will be prepared and plated.

Though Wise Bird Cider Co. is among many other breweries, the couple isn’t worried about differentiating themselves from their neighbors. Wise Bird Cider will focus solely on cider and making it the old fashioned traditional way.

Photo by Greta Pittard Wright

The motivation to open a cidery came when they went from making small batches to larger ones in their kitchen. As a couple, they’ve always wanted to do something where they see the results of what they create. After entering a national competition and winning several awards, the two knew it was time to pull the trigger and start their own business.

With family in Lexington and a love for the community, Greta says this prosperous city was always their goal. The cider segment of the craft beverage industry is growing, and Greta and Tim are excited to bring more of it here. Their drink menu will include ciders, local beer and a limited savory food menu. Different varieties of heirloom and dessert apples will be used to make their different ciders, ranging from bone dry to semi-sweet with no extra additives or other mixing.

Wise Bird Cider Co. is located at 1170 Manchester Street in the Rickhouse building of the Distillery District. 

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