Photo by Brian Kaiser

All Tarted Up

Mad Moon sprinkling new tastes into cider scene

Peter Moon took a bit of a risk when he decided to bring craft hard cider to the Columbus market, ostensibly competing with a tough craft beer market—and the long-loyal national cider drinkers.

His plan to equalize that challenge: using the best ingredients.

He sources fresh pressed apples from a Ohio orchard, and carefully formulates every Mad Moon Cider recipe. His deliciously refreshing hard ciders have found a niche.

“It can be a little risky,” he said of trying new infusions, “the people who like cider in Columbus can be a little conservative when it comes to certain flavors.”

That’s where his taproom in the Northern Lights area is invaluable. Moon can infuse small batches, gauge response, and move from there. If something hits, into production it goes.

Such is the case with his latest creation. Tart Side of the Moon is a carefully crafted Ohio cider infused with Sweet Tarts.

“I was at a movie with my wife, and I thought it might be good in a cider,” Moon explained. “My wife thought I was crazy.”

You mean, Mad, right?

So, they bought some Sweet Tarts, and dissolved them into their cider. The first result was tasty, but not the most visually appealing.

“We have to remove the dark candies because, for some reason, they turn the cider brown.”

Tweaks were made, and Tart Side of the Moon, which now pours a pale lavender, became a hit. Moon came up with the idea of accessorizing the drink by adding some sweet tarts to the glass which enhances the experience. As the Sweet Tarts dissolve, the CO2 nucleates on the rough surface and escapes suspension. The result is active fizzing, which is, well … fun, dammit. It tastes like what it is, and it’s very drinkable.

Ahead of packaging, Peter decided to be proactive and contact the makers of Sweet Tarts, which happens to be Nestle. After a few rounds of gatekeeper bingo, he got to talk to the people who matter and was pleased to find that Nestle was actually really stoked to hear that Mad Moon was putting their Trick-or-Treat staple front and center in the craft cider marketplace. With their blessing, Tart Side of the Moon will be released in four packs this summer.

No word on whether or not Roger Waters approves, though.

Mad Moon is located at 2134 Britains Lane, open every Saturday and Sunday afternoon. For more, visit madmooncider.com.

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