By Ariel Yong
For Marc Chretien, cider is not only his beverage of choice, it’s his business of choice. With craft beer booming in Northern Virginia, Chretien is instead turning to a less crowded industry. “Cider is more unique, yet it’s a classic craft beverage where we’re not competing with 2,800 other micro-breweries. And producing a good cider is every bit as difficult as producing a good beer.”
In August, Chretien will open his second cidery—his first in Northern Virginia—named Mt. Defiance Cidery & Distillery in Middleburg. It joins Winchester Ciderworks, Bold Rock Hard Cider and about a dozen others in the state. He says he prefers cider due to its “lighter, crisper taste,” especially when hoppy micro-brews can be “a heavier drink.”
Chretien grew up in Arlington and McLean, attended Georgetown University, and after law school at the University of New Hampshire, he started his own general trial practice firm in New Hampshire.
After 9/11, Chretien says “I knew I had to go to war in Afghanistan” and served under Commanding General John Allen overseas. After spending seven years in Afghanistan and Iraq, Chretien opened Stowe Cider in Stowe, Vermont last August.
Chretien’s now returning home to open his second cidery: “It’s my transition from seven years of getting shot at in combat zones to the peace and tranquility of Middleburg.” The veteran named his company after a nearby Civil War battle site and is also partnering up with a group of friends and former co-workers (Rajiv and Julie Chandrasekaran; Bill, Christine and Stefan Windler; and Bill and Sandra Mezzanotte).
Mt. Defiance Cidery will feature four different kinds of hard cider at 6.5 percent ABV. It will serve a farmhouse-style, which Chretien describes as containing “yeast and some mild carbonation of carbon dioxide” as well as an extra-dry version of it and a ginger cider with fresh ginger root, a complementary flavor. Chretien named the fourth cider, The General’s Reserve, in honor of Allen and it will be aged in oak bourbon barrel.
In addition to being a cidery, Chretien’s business is also licensed as a distillery. The cidery and distillery are each their own distinct entities but are located under the same roof. Since Chretien hasn’t been separately permitted to serve hard liquor yet, the micro-distillery will eventually carry an apple brandy, which he’s modeling after the traditional New England drink, applejack. He’ll also produce rum and absinthe, jokes Chretien: “yes, the green fairy is coming to Middleburg.” Customers will be able to buy the three liquors at ABC stores in August.
Although customers won’t be able to sample the hard liquor, Mt. Defiance will offer cider tastings, starting August 1, and will be selling cider by the growler, quart and half gallon jugs. / Mt. Defiance Cidery & Distillery, 207 W. Washington St., Middleburg