Under the Bridge Hard Cider (UTB) celebrated its first anniversary during the First Friday Celebration in December. Located in downtown Lebanon at 750 Cumberland Street, the small-batch craft cidery plans to be open for carry-out sales and order pick-up Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. as well as from 5 to 8 p.m. on First Friday in February (February 5).

The owners are David Poole and cider maker Kevin Smith. Smith explained that the name of the business comes from a song from the Red Hot Chili Peppers, “Under the Bridge,” and he’s always liked the phrase “water under the bridge”.

A number of the names of UTB’s varieties such as Strawberry Fields, Bitter Sweet Symphony, Pink Cadillac and Express Yo Self are inspired by songs as well as the ingredients. Two of the newest releases are Mayan Pilot — cider infused with cacao and cayenne; and Beverly Hills — lemongrass and ginger cider. (Mayan Pilot is the name of a song by Splashdown, and Beverly Hills is the name of a song by Weezer.) UTB’s small-batch craft cider uses apple juice from a pressing facility in Adams County.

Smith and Poole originally met in 2001 when they were serving in the Coast Guard. Smith said he returned to civilian life in 2011 and he and Poole met again in 2012. “I’ve been an avid home brewer for years and I had started entering homebrew competitions, Smith explained, “But I’ve always had a passion for cider, so I wanted to see what I could do with cider. I started home fermenting small five-gallon batches.”

When he and Poole met again in 2012, he mentioned his passion for cider-making and the homebrew competitions. The competitions have a people’s choice award as well as judging from certified beer judges. “He went to a competition, and he was hooked. We started talking about making our own cider and opening a tasting room,” Smith said, “I spent my early childhood in Lebanon — my family moved to Annville when I was five-years old — so I was committed to doing something in Lebanon. I wanted to be part of the city’s revitalization, and I envisioned having a place downtown on Cumberland Street between 5th and 10th streets.”

The business partners began acquiring the permits needed for the operation as well as searching for the right location. Smith said it was about two years from the time they signed the lease to pouring their first drink. UTB opened the 20-seat tasting room during First Friday in December 2019. At that time Smith said the concept of the tasting room was “the opposite of BYOB — it was more like BYOF; guests could bring food here and order our hard cider”.

Kevin Smith displays his brews to a customer. This photo was taken in January 2020, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Emily Bixler)

In the beginning of 2020, UTB began to sell 750 ml bottles of hard cider to guests. The cidery has just received permission for glass sales when it was forced to close its doors due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “We were gaining momentum, meeting clients and developing relationships. It was very disappointing,” Smith said.

Smith and Pool put their heads together and created a new plan. They developed a platform for online sales, remained a constant in downtown Lebanon with pick-up sales at their storefront then expanded and grew their varieties even creating Holiday and Cranberry Cider for the 2020 holiday season. UTB also sells a variety pack of 12 375 ml bottles for $40 (while supplies last).

“We embraced the challenge and diversified our business; it has been a great opportunity to get creative,” Poole said. “The last 10 months were a reset for us,” Smith added.

He said in the last two months, UTB has hired two employees, a production assistant and a sales person; prior to that it was just the two business partners. UTB’s small-batch craft cider can now be found at Snitz Creek Brewery’s downtown Lebanon location (7 North 9th Street).

For more information about UTB and its hard cider varieties and sales, visit www.underthebridgecider.com and its Facebook page.

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Rochelle Shenk

Rochelle A. Shenk is a writer with over two decades experience. Her work appears in regional business publications and lifestyle magazines as well as area newspapers. She writes about business and municipal sectors as well as arts and entertainment, human interest features, and travel and tourism. Rochelle...