New cider house rules: Virtue Cider Lapinette debuts

December 12, 2012

While the beer world buzzes Wednesday about the sale of Westvleteren 12 at $84.99 for six bottles, one local craft ciderist quietly releases a cider that's not available in bottles at all — yet.

In case you're wondering, "Westy" — the beer made by Belgian monks normally sold only at the abbey, save this first exception to raise money for renovations — will be available at Binny's in Lincoln Park and Downers Grove.

Virtue Cider, founded by former Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall, celebrated the release of Lapinette last night at Lula Cafe. Only their second cider, it's an unfiltered dry French Norman style cidre brut, fermented with saison ale yeast and aged for months in French Cabernet Franc oak wine barrels. Like their first cider, RedStreak, Lapinette is only available on draft around the Chicagoland area.

It's somewhat maddening, in this age of instant, in-home gratification, that Virtue's ciders are not available in bottles, and if Hall had his way, they'd always only be available on draft.
At the Lapinette fête, Hall said bottles were still a year or two off, but then revealed a secret: they may be available as soon as after this coming new year. But there's a catch: "I want it to be part of the experience of visiting the cider house," he said.
The new Virtue cider house in Fennville, Mich., is scheduled to open for visits any day now, possibly in time for the release of their next and third cider, The Mitten. This winter cider is blended with fresh-pressed apple juice and currently aging in 12 year-old Heaven Hill bourbon whiskey barrels. The name is an ode to the shape of our neighboring state to the north.
 
Cider house or abbey, some drinks are worth the pilgrimage.