Good ciders are made from a blend of sweet, sharp, and bittersharp or bittersweet apples. Sweets provide the sugar for the yeast to consume, sharps provide the acid that lends a cider its tartness, and bittersharps/bittersweets contribute the tannins that give a cider its body and structure.
On our path to discovering the best apples to use to create the perfect Midwestern cider, we were consistently thrilled by the excellent sugar and acid profiles of local apples, but underwhelmed by their bitterness.
Bittersharp and bittersweet apples, known as spitters for their acrid flavor, are really only good for making hard cider. While the U.S. once had a healthy bittersharp and bittersweet infrastructure, it was wiped out during Prohibition. To this day, small upstart cideries (like us!) have a very difficult time sourcing spitters; here in the Midwest, it's near impossible to find them in any meaningful volume.
Because of this, and because of our commitment to local growers, instead of sourcing spitters from across the country (or around the world), we turned to hops and grains for that bitterness and body. The result: tart, dry, flavorful, well-balanced products. These are not the cloyingly sweet macro-ciders most people think of when they hear "cider." They are decidedly different. They are delightfully Sociable.