2010 Silver Whisk Award Nominees: Best Purveyor

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

The Silver Whisks celebrate the best of local food in the Upper Midwest; only three are given out, for Best Chef, Best Purveyor, and Best New Restaurant.

Our list of nominees for the best purveyor covers all the hedonistic bases: alcohol, cheese, caffeine, and chocolate. It’s hard to think what else you might need to be happy in life. But as much as this list says about our vices, it also says a lot about our principles: That a defiantly nonconformist cider maker, a micro dairy, an unbendingly fair coffee roaster, and a micro-micro chocolatier can all not only survive but thrive — that’s a huge part of what makes the Upper Midwest a great place to live and eat.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Crispin Cider

You might say that someone trying to build a cider brand in a place without a strong cider culture is fighting an uphill battle. But don’t say it to Joe Heron of Crispin Cider (bel0w).

“We have a tremendously strong history of cider,” he points out. (Remember Johnny Appleseed? In those days apples were for drinking, not eating.) “It’s the original American drink, really, but we lost it. And a full-blown renaissance is coming up now; cider is the fastest-growing beverage category in America.”

Joe Heron is an unlikely leader of that renaissance. He’s a native South African who spent the past couple of decades moving around Europe and the United States and who readily admits he didn’t really like cider before getting into the business.

“I thought it was sweet beer for people who didn’t like beer,” he says. “But we’ve really worked to change that…. We’ve given it credentials. It pairs well with everything from spicy to sushi, from cheese to chocolate.”

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Beyond changing the way we think about hard cider, Heron has also been tinkering with the drink itself. Rather than looking to English pubs or old Appleseed for inspiration, Heron says, “The influences in our business are foodies, wineys, and craft beer geeks.” Heron describes his approach as a little bit “rock and roll.” Take the upcoming special release, Desert Noir. Flavored with prickly pear and agave, it was inspired by the schlocky cult horror film From Dusk Til. Dawn. And the three ciders in Crispin’s premium line, Artisanal Reserves, throw out the playbook altogether, starting with apple wine rather than apple juice, and featuring — yes, it’s a feature — a flavorful layer of sediment at the bottom.

Crispin is also still growing: This year they acquired the California-based Fox Barrel, which makes apple, pear, and black currant ciders. That’s the sort of thinking that makes Crispin a contender for this year’s Silver Whisk Award: combining craft-brewer creativity and big, nationwide ambitions, while remaining true to Minnesota roots. And, of course, truly delicious cider that has earned a place in our culture and at our tables.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Uplands Cheese Company

Cheesemaking has always been a means to an end. Its original purpose was to preserve perishable milk for the off-season; the tasty bacterial goodness was just a byproduct.

When Andy Hatch went into the dairy business, he, too, thought of cheese as just a way to get what he really wanted. A self-described city boy from outside of Milwaukee, he wanted to find a way to farm. But, “Milking cows just to sell milk is almost suicidal at this point, especially when you’re just starting out,” he explains. “Making cheese to add value to the milk is the way to make it possible.”

Pragmatism, however, has now turned to passion. Hatch joined Uplands Cheese Company four years ago as a cheesemaker and now manages the operation. Two dairy farming families, Mike and Carol Gingrich and Dan and Jeanne Patenaude, began making cheese together 10 years ago. They looked around for models for their operation and decided that what they had — and what they wanted to achieve — most resembled cheesemaking in the Swiss Alps. Their cows graze on grassy hillsides in the Uplands region of Wisconsin. They milk only in the summer, when the cows are entirely grassfed, and when the quality of the pasture declines — say during a dry spell — they stop making cheese and sell the milk instead.

Jill Lewis / Heavy Table

The result is Pleasant Ridge Reserve, a hard, nutty, raw-milk cheese that took best in show at the American Cheese Society’s annual competition last year. It won the same honor in 2001 and 2005 and took the U.S. Championship Cheese Contest crown in 2003. Pretty remarkable for a tiny operation that makes just 90,000 pounds of cheese a year.

Until this year, Pleasant Ridge Reserve was Uplands’ only product. But this fall, Hatch decided to put the fall milk, made when the quality of the pasture is starting to change, to good use. Rush Creek Reserve is his soft and stinky washed-rind cheese, similar to the Swiss Vacherin Mont d’Or. In November, Surdyk’s kept a waiting list — yes, you read that right — for customers eager to scoop out a liquidy round of the stuff. It’s that good.

Fortunately for us in the Twin Cities, there is no shortage of shops carrying Uplands Cheese. Besides Surdyk’s, you can find it at France 44, the St. Paul Cheese Shop, Heartland Farm Direct Market, and Lunds and Byerly’s. And that says something about the reach and tenacity and integrity — not to mention the quality — of this tiny dairying operation.

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

Peace Coffee

You’ve probably seen the Peace Coffee bike delivery guy chugging down Twin Cities streets, pulling a 400-pound trailer. Or maybe the biodiesel delivery truck. You have definitely seen the beans for sale in nearly every local grocery store and dozens of coffee shops. We might even take Peace Coffee for granted — we’ve got easy-to-find, midpriced, high-quality, fair trade coffee available wherever and whenever we want it.

But it wasn’t always so. Peace Coffee got its start 15 years ago, in a closet in the offices of the Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy in South Minneapolis. As company lore has it, a Mexican coffee farmer had challenged the IATP that its approach was all talk and no action. A year later, a shipping container full of Mexican beans landed in Minneapolis.

Nobody at IATP ever intended to start an iconic local brand, but a combination of good timing and remarkable persistence made it so. Now Peace Coffee, still owned by IATP, buys from 18 farm cooperatives in about 15 countries. It works through an importing cooperative, which is like a big buying club. “There’s nobody in between those farmers and us,” says project manager Anna Canning. “So we’re able to pay a good price and then turn around and sell at really competitive prices here. We want to make excellent coffee accessible.”

Katie Cannon / Heavy Table

The next logical step for Peace Coffee was to start pouring excellently brewed cups directly for customers, and that’s why they opened their own coffee shop in the Longfellow neighborhood last year. “We have stewardship of those beans all the way, right up to our relationship with our customers,” Canning explains.

The building, it almost goes without saying, was remodeled with environmentally-friendly materials and techniques because, as Canning puts it, “We want to be doing as much good and as little bad as we can.” Staying true to your principles should always taste this good.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Rogue Chocolatier

Did you ever have a hobby that started taking over the whole house? That’s what happened to Colin Gasko (above), otherwise known as the Rogue Chocolatier. His interest in chocolate making started with truffles, melting down store-bought chocolate. But soon he wondered if he couldn’t actually make the chocolate himself — meaning, starting with cacao. Turns out he could.

“I was roasting chocolate in my oven,” he explains, “then I got a mill I put in the basement.” When his next new toy — a mill from India — arrived, it proved too big for the basement, so Gasko started looking around for a place to put it. He rented a 400-square-foot warehouse space and decided, “Let’s see if it pays the rent in six months.”

That was late 2006. By late 2007 the first Rogue Chocolatier bars were in specialty stores. And Colin Gasko had taken each and every one every step of the way, from bean to bar.

Now he produces about 500 bars a week and it’s all that retailers can do to keep them in stock. Gasko is the only chocolate maker in the Upper Midwest currently focusing entirely on single-estate chocolates, meaning that each of his four lines of bars uses beans from just one cacao farm: the Rio Caribe from the Paria Peninsula in Venezuela, the Sambirano from Madagascar, Hispaniola from the Dominican Republic, and the Piura from Peru. And that’s it. Four 60-gram bars. No truffles, no fillings, no sea salt, no bacon, no chile. Just chocolate.

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

That single-minded focus and the quality he coaxes out of every bean have earned Gasko a national reputation. Martha Stewart featured his chocolates in 2008 and he just got back from picking up a Good Food Award in San Francisco.

Unfortunately, Minnesota will be losing this energetic entrepreneur in the upcoming months. After eight years here, the call of home and family has proved too strong and in April Gasko plans to move the whole operation to central Massachusetts, where he grew up and his family still lives.

Our loss and New England’s gain no doubt, but Gasko promises that he’ll still be shipping bars out to Midwestern retailers. “Some of my best stores are out here,” he notes. “Minnesota has been very good to me.”


  1. Sarah

    I’ve loved hard cider for 20 years. Crispin is too thin. Never order it, and don’t understand the hype.

  2. Paul

    I’ve loved Crispin since the first time I’ve had it. It’s light, refreshing, and natural. Other ciders have preservatives and that’s why they taste too sweet, so I disagree with Sarah. They deserve this award and I think are expanding throughout the Country. Very cool!

  3. Mark

    Not any other producer of alcohol drinks, only perhaps Dogfish head and Surly, is as innovative as Crispin. They’re daring and that should be applauded. I challenge you to show me another cider, beer, or wine company that is pushing the envelope like Crispin and Fox Barrel.

  4. Brian Ames

    A slap in the face to authentic local purveyors is what the Crispin nomination is in my opinion.

    This is a well funded corporation, not a struggling purveyor straining to push the limits of his/her craft like Rouge Chocolate.

    According to their website the cider is made in CA from fruit that is not from MN. As an apple grower I also dislike their label Honeycrisp Cider which has no Honeycrisp apples in the cider. The fact they are a big sponsor here also is an issue.

    If we had no apple heritage here in MN I might bee more sympathetic.

    How many consumers have a clue this product has little to do with MN other then their corporate HQ’s and owners hometown?

  5. Mark

    How many consumers know that much like the great wines we drink, the apples grown here in Minnesota don’t actually make for quality fermentation? It simply can’t be done on a large scale. Look at a bottle once and you’ll see it’s clear that it’s produced in California. They’re not hiding that fact. Of course we have an apple heritage here, but there’s a reason you don’t see ANY ciders made here other than homebrews or imported juice. I love and respect Ames, but do a little more research before you begin calling out slaps in the face.

  6. Brian Ames

    The wine analogy does not hold up since we are seeing more serious wine offerings all of the time here in the MN. Would that not be the point to do something difficult or pushing the envelope?

    I’m well aware that its too cold here to grow most of the traditional English cider varieties of apples. There are a number of Canadian cider apples varieities that are being grown now in northern climes.

    I have measured the brix level of many MN apples and we do actually have some interesting varieites like Sweet 16 and Prairie Spy that are suitable. Upping the sugar content with honey, sugar or raisins etc then is a common option in cider making.

    Its not clear though that Crispin is using Cider apples either based on the information on their website. In fact they don’t talk up the apple sources at all.

    There is a infrastructure in CA for fermentation and bottling obviously too that does not exist on such a large scale in MN. How easy would it be to find an operation to ferment some wine or cider based on your specs etc?

    So my point is simply whats so special then about Crispin relative to MN? There are a number of small start up like efforts ongoing here in MN whom are trying to use local fruit for a hard cider. Lets save the accolades for them as they redefine what LOCAL cider means.

  7. Mike

    The fact that Crispin is not brewed in MN is moot. Contract brewing has been used across the country for a very very long time. Several MN breweries are in this same boat (Liftbridge is an example of out of state contract brewing (yes I realize that they are building a brewery in MN now)). Contract brewing is huge in Wisconson. Just because the company does not physically make the product here does not mean its not a MN product. In this day and age with the Internet everything and anything can be done from anywhere. It makes more sense for a start up company to go to the source of their raw materials before shipping them across country or to contract brew out of a facility that can handle the demand. That’s just smart business.

    I’ve also read that their glassware and packaging all come from local MN companies. On top of that many of the “American” ciders like Woodchuck and ACE use apple juice concentrate from China. At least they use American products to make their cider and use MN packaging on top of that.

    I have a friend in San Fran that told me they weren’t even able to get Crispin in CA until just recently. They weren’t even selling their product there and its obvious that their focus was MN from day one.

    Lastly, if you are going to hate on their nomination because they have a good relationship with Heavy Table makes you look ignorant. You’re going to take away the fact that Joe Heron has built a company from scratch during a recession in just a few short years? I believe that is what the spirit of this award is all about. Its not about who paid the most money to Heavy Table. Don’t hate on success just because. Have a better reason then that.

    I’d also like to know where you got the info that Crispin is a well funded corporation? Because I’ve never seen a TV ad or radio commercial or anything big budget like that. Have you?

    I’m only getting into this discussion because I don’t understand why people have to be so negative on comment boards. It seems that people don’t want to see other people do well anymore. Why are you trying to take that away from these companies in a time where we should all be supportive of each other. Didn’t your mother ever tell you that “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all”

  8. Chef's Wife

    Just because something can be made in MN with MN product doesn’t mean it deserves a nomination as the best of the year. MN wines? Pleah. MN apples to eat? Excellent.

    If we’re splitting hairs, where is the locally-grown cacao for Rogue? See…. doesn’t work in all directions. Instead, let’s honor those with a vision and perseverance at all costs because they are doing what they believe in!

    (Mike – isn’t it Fulton that’s bring it back to MN for their craft brewing, not Liftbridge? I could be wrong if it’s in fact both)


  9. Mike

    Liftbridge was contract brewed at Steven’s Point and I believe Fulton was in the same boat but I wasn’t %100 sure where they brewed. I thought maybe Cold Springs which is in MN, its just not thier brewery.

    My point was that we should be supporting these companies regardless. They support local companies and a lot of local companies support them. There is no way anyone can start a business these days without any support from thier local communities, which was MN (more specifically NE Mpls) in Crispin’s case.

    What exactly are poeple looking for when they post a negative remark?

  10. Chef's Wife

    Mike – yes, lots of crossover in local beer, creativity to meet the demand and law requirements in MN. No fault of any of them IMO. Why wouldn’t WI be considered local?

    G.Q. about negativity in posts. Personally I think it’s just a modern form of bullying. Jason?

    Really. Out.

  11. Jason DeRusha

    I don’t think there was much negativity in this post, though. Brian Ames is a very thoughtful and well-regarded Minnesota honey and apple producer. I can understand why the hairs on his neck would rise when a company marketing itself as Minnesotan is really doing all the work with out-of-state product and production. It’s a fair concern.

  12. Eric

    I think the issue of a conflict of interest is also fair, and I wish the Heavy Table would address it. It seems to me that when a purveyor is a major advertiser/sponsor on the site, that creates the appearance of a conflict of interest. I’m not making any sort of accusation that Crispin does or does not deserve the award, just an observation that there is the appearance of a conflict of interest. Doesn’t it behoove the HT to address the issue?

  13. James Norton

    Dear Eric,

    We’re of the opinion that a magazine can have both advertisers and, also, write about those advertisers. I think a number of other publications around here and even nationally would agree with us on that.

    That said, Crispin isn’t an active advertiser at this point, and hasn’t been for a couple months.

    Best Regards,

    James Norton
    Heavy Table

  14. Brian Ames

    I’m not suggesting Crispin Cider products are inferior.

    I do question the relevancy of their Mn status on Heavy Table for a product that has no regional ingredients or production facilities. Why not then consider a CA wine maker? or do they need a postal address here first then we can consider them?

    Also I’m not the first or only MN apple grower to be critical of the Crispin Honeycrisp Cider that uses none of our State Apple the Honeycrisp.

    Does anyone think many of us MN apple growers are all warm and fuzzy about the use of our flagship MN apple brand name for a cider made from CA or non MN apples?

  15. Oliver


    Your response re: crispin as an advertiser is specious at best.

    HT has had seemingly few sponsors and even fewer major sponsors, some of whom (including Crispin) have received advertising made to look like content. Imagine if the NY Times only had, say, 5 movies advertise in their paper the entire year, and one of those movies was allowed to have advertorial content in the arts section of the paper. Then the Times releases their best films of the year edition and that movie was one of 3 or 4 nominated. That is the situation HT is being compared to. If Crispin were one of 2 or 3 thousand (or even hundred) advertisers on your site I don’t think anyone would notice/care.

    And really I don’t think a Minnesota mailing address makes something a Minnesota product. I’d want to refine those guidelines if it were my blog. Rogue and Peace Coffee at least create their products here even if there raw materials aren’t local.

  16. stefan

    Crispin Ciders is a brilliant choice for the Silver Whisk Award. For the simple reason that a small Minnesota company has taken on the immense task of revolutionizing a whole beverage category! Ciders have been the ugly stepsister to beer, the unrelated cousin to wine coolers and the not so cool alternative to wines. Crispin Ciders singlehandedly revolutionized this dusty category. They made it hip and found a huge following, in Minnesota and beyond. They brought to market several completely different textures and flavor varieties. Personally I love the cloudy Honey Crisp! It makes you think of sun and summer on a cold winter day. Seriously. Full of bite. My wife loves the simple, clean original brut. You gotta try them all, and I betcha, you will find one to LOVE! Cheers!

  17. Kris

    I’m behind you 100% Brian. Crispin tries to assert itself as a MN company when it is not (certainly far less than the afore mentioned Lift Bridge or Fulton) and tries to claim they aren’t riding on the coat tails of the highly popular MN apple (Honeycrisp) by naming their cider the same. While they may not be “well-funded” in terms of Hardcore or Ace, they certainly have a lot more advertising dollars to go around, to go around the country, then any of the other nominees.

  18. Tommy

    My wife and I have been drinking Crispin since it came out. I like the Brut. It’s not too sweet and it’s very refreshing. Sarah, if you want something with more body I think they offer other varieties. Anyway, I’m happy they are headquartered here in MN and looking forward to drinking some cider during the all too brief summer.

  19. Calvin

    I saw the owner of Crispin on tv when it first started. I thought it sounded like they were doing something new & interesting so I tried the product and really loved it. Months later I went to Surdyk’s and the guy was packing the shelves with Crispin himself. I know they are based here, I’m sure they pay taxes here, and I love Honey Crisp (two words, not one like the apple). I’ve told friends about the cider around the country and they’ve also tried it and loved it. Seems a little weak to try to cut someone down just because they are doing something that is successful. A little mean spirited and immature in my view.

  20. Claire

    Crispin is delicious and a refreshing choice for all seasons! Not only can you put it on ice but it tastes great mixed with a variety of other beverages. And the organic component is great for society as a whole and our health!

  21. Lee

    Crispin is Minnesotan, hence the nomination, no need to argue that. More importantly, Crispin is delicious. It’s not your traditional heavy English cider, but it is smoother with a more natural apple flavor. Crispin was only available in Minnesota for sometime before it more recently began distributing in other markets. Now people across the country can taste their inventive take on cider. Crispin is a great and unique Minnesotan cider that is beginning to be loved across the country, what’s better than that?

  22. Veronique

    I am from France, from Normandy (Apple country, home of the best Cider… before Crispin!) and having lived in the Twin Cities for more than 10 years, I had been missing drinking good Cider terribly until Crispin finally came on the market. I just LOVE Crispin. It is as good as French cider. It is just fantastic that an entrepreneur from Minnesota had the fabulous idea to make a delicious, yummy cider. I tell all my friends, I serve it to all my dinner parties, and everyone loves it! Go Crispin, go!

  23. Michelle

    Yummm I love Crispin! I don’t drink beer, so this is a nice alternative and much less calories. There are some really good varieties: maple syrup which has a thicker consistency (yum!), pear, and hot apple cider are some of my favorites! Try it if you want something refreshing!

  24. Sunny

    Crispin is an amazing product. We love it on our own, and Its a hit at every party we have! What a great drink, unique and refreshing. I loved it from the day I tried it. It’s roots are clearly here in MN! . Its a thrill to see their blue awning and beautiful tree in Minneapolis after discovering this drink. What about all its charity events here like the Ice ball at the MN Saints stadium, to name just one! It’s a totally innovative small startup MN company. It’s been thrilling to see a new product or flavor come out so often, each one unique and flavorful. They have to be working so hard! They seem most deserving of this award to me. This is a great product from what must be great people. Try it, you are sure to love it and there is a variety for every taste. Truly a “craft” product!

  25. Frederic

    Growing up in Belgium I got my fair share of beer and cider, but never have I had such a refreshing and wonderfully tasting cider as Crispin. Hats off to the makers, I am looking forward to being thirsty, throwing a party, or really any excuse is good to open a bottle of Crispin. Moreover, the product line keeps expanding and is sure to offer something for everyone: Brut, Extra Dry, Stout Yeast, and so on. Next time you’re in downtown Minneapolis, try it in one of the bars and support a local start-up. Cheers.

  26. Colleen

    I am not a beer drinker, but I love Crispin! I haven’t had a kind that I didn’t like, I would recommend it to anyone.

  27. Paolo

    Someone offered me a Crispin brut a year or so ago and I really liked it. It was a Minnesota company so I guess I paid more attention to the brand. Since then I’ve followed their progress–and LOVED each new product they’ve released. My favorites are Honeycrisp and the Jacket. I can’t believe their creativity in finding delicious new flavors!

  28. Kathleen

    I have been drinking Crispin since it first came out. I love the crisp refreshing taste. I started with the Brut, love the Honey Crisp and adore The Jacket. I serve it at home, cook with it and bring it to friends home. What I love is that they are a creative, innovative and fun company always coming up with new products and fun events to introduce them to customers. I like that such a cool, creative company comes from Minnesota.

  29. Nancy

    Jeez, Brian and Oliver have driven me to drink. Crispin Brut is my choice…who cares if it is only 10 in the morning. All that bitching is giving me a headache. Joe, you make a fabulous line of ciders, you are a brilliantly creative and delightfully humorous, and you deserve the Big Whisk! Keep innovating and creating! Cheers!

  30. NJG

    Jesus H. Christ–if a single one of the last 12 comments aren’t employees of Crispin, I’d be absolutely shocked. You’re not fooling anyone, people. An official response from someone who actually admits they’re from the company would be a hell of a lot more respectable.

    That said, Crispin’s The Jacket and Lansdowne ciders are actually pretty excellent.

  31. Veronique

    Me neither!
    Just a great fan who loves to share a great idea and/or a great product! As a matter of fact I am planning on having one tonight! Cheers!

  32. Jimmy R

    I had no interest in cider until I came across Crispin. These guys have, in my opinion, redefined cider – what it tastes like, when, how and where you can drink it. The Jacket, Lansdowne and Honey Crisp are experiences in them themselves.

    Beyond the beverage I see Crispin as a local start-up company that’s Minnesotan to the core – innovative, authentic, resilient, hard working and socially responsible. Something we can be proud of!

  33. Della

    I don’t like beer, but I love the taste of Crispin. It’s not too filling and it goes great with most foods. I love that it’s made with natural ingredients and is a fairly low calorie drink without tasting watered down. Definitely deserves this nomination!

  34. Anne

    I love Crispin Cider. It’s neither watery nor too sugary. One of my favorite ciders. This nomination is well deserved.

  35. Joe Heron

    Are Craig Finn & The Hold Steady any less beloved as our “hometown” band because they live in Brooklyn, New York City?

    If you pull the curtain of Target’s postal address are they actually Chinese?

    That Minnesota would be a “flag of convenience” worth flying is naive and parochial to the point of ludicrous.

    Writing this from the “postal address” I call home, happily seeing the ice melt,having made my home in the Twin Cities for over 10 years, I am listening to a song by Cornershop – the UK indie band fronted by Tjinder Singh and his brother, singing an “American” alt.country song “It’s Good To Be Back On The Road Home Again”. Minneapolis is my home. As an immigrant this has a resonance much of the homegrown critics will never understand. This is where we make our home.

    Crispin was born in a Minnesota attic a little over 2 years ago.

    We are not a Minnesota cider company.

    We are an American cider company.

    A cider company headquartered in Nordeast at 405 Central Ave SE, Minneapolis, MN 55414. Our ciders are made in Colfax, California using fresh-pressed apple juice 100% from Washington & Oregon. There is a little bit of Kentucky in almost every bottle as we source a hyper-pure apple essence from Louisville. Our largest market is Texas and our fastest growing market is Michigan. We are sold in almost 30 states and counting. And oh yes, we now even import an authentic, classic English cider 100% made in the UK under our brand name.

    This little slightly idiosyncratic idea, spawned during a recession in a Minneapolis attic, and surviving a diabolical series of winters, now employs over 40 people across the USA.

    And I am incredibly proud of it. Where it was born, where it’s made, of the people who make it and spend 7 days a week selling it as if their lives depend on it – because it does.

    The world’s most innovative cider company is American, we may even be the world’s best cider company, and we work every day to be the world’s best cider company. What we have achieved represents everything that is great about America and being American; that you can be anything you want to be with guts and courage and a sense of adventure that subsumes the rational. That if your bloody-minded stupidity translates in to a complete focus on working extremely hard you can succeed and change the world. We, this wee cider company born in Minnesota, USA, are transforming cider.

    To my mind the other nominees are brilliant, delightful, and examples of a sincerity that goes in to doing what you believe in, and doing what makes you happy, making gorgeous product, and suspending belief and just taking a flying leap of faith off an entrepreneurial cliff. I/We salute you. As a Minnesotan you make me proud.

    That someone like “Oliver” can cast anonymous aspersions as to Jim & Becca’s ethics and integrity is pathetic, and he owes them an apology.

    “Brian Ames is a very thoughtful and well-regarded Minnesota honey and apple producer.” When we started Crispin – we had ZERO assistance from a single apple-grower in Minnesota, in truth we were treated with the rudeness and disrespect most entrepreneurs with new ideas face every day. No one would return a call. The only person that ever deigned to call us was a lovely elderly gentleman looking to sell his apple orchard in Chaska. We now consume millions of tons of apples, and I have yet to ever have a conversation with a Minnesota apple grower. And we would. We have and are having conversations with Michigan apple growers, who contacted us. We are a buyer of apples, well – we buy fresh-pressed apple juice. I would love to talk about apples and drink cider with you Brian, any time.

    But the assumption that just having apples relates completely to the making cider is false. You need the apples of course, you also need cold-storage of apples so that you can make cider 12 months a year, 52 weeks a year, you need the juicing capability. But critically you need the skills and artistry to ferment the apple-juice. We found the cidermakers who could make beautiful apple-wine in Colfax, California. That’s the business decision right there.

    The assumption that we are well funded is as mythological as a unicorn. I look at Omar’s $20mm Surly dream and I am Granny Smith green with envy, and wide-eyed in admiration. Good on you bud, keep it up, don’t get off that angry bike.

    NJG. If all the people who said really lovely things about our cider were employees – wouldn’t that make us “local” (Thanks for the positive comment by the way). But this is the “official” response that you were looking for. Such as it is.

    Jim, Becca and The Heavy Table team. We are deeply appreciative of your nomination. And you remain gifted writers and photographers on all things gourmet. And you also deserve kudos for having the guts to start a new business in the face of extreme journalistic adversity, and are succeeding. God forbid that you actually get people to advertise on the site and sully your reputations.

  36. Chris B.

    Crispin Handsdown is in a category to themselves. Their Cider simply smashes the competition. They have been taking down Magner’s and Strongbow for months now. The taste is no comparison and if you have had a chance to consume the new BrownsLane you are in for a treat, as this new English Dry Cider from Crispin is unreal!
    Not too mention their product is fantastic, their innovation, growth, and marketing in just a years time is second to nobody. Joe Heron and the employees at Crispin know how to support the community and reach out to all groups and events.

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