“We only really did this because DC’s COVID relief measures allow for to-go sales,” says Sam Fitz, co-founder and co-owner of Anxo. “This” is partnering with Craft Collective, which distributes Anxo’s ciders in New England. Taking advantage of DC’s grey laws, Anxo is importing some of the Craft Collective portfolio into the District, including Battery Steele and Bunker from Maine, and Honest Weight and Idle Hands from Massachusetts, among others.
Bringing in out-of-market beers has proved a modest success for the cidery, so they’re going to expand importation into the District with another distributor, Lime Ventures, out of California. This will mean more options for area beer aficionados looking to try something new, including Garden Path, Heater Allen, the return of Holy Mountain, and Wayfinder. “Beechwood’s taproom pours Anxo cider, and it’ll be nice to return the favor,” notes Fitz. Lambic and gueuze fans should pay special attention to Lime Ventures, as they’ve taken over much of the Shelton Brothers’ portfolio, including Cantillon. So yes, this means that Anxo will be offering Cantillon in their online store in the near future.
But there’s a catch. The provision allowing for to-go sales from restaurants in the District expires in November. Fitz is cautiously optimistic that this law will be extended, but it’s by no means a sure thing.
As another revenue stream, and to spread the gospel of cider and perry, Anxo is now a licensed US importer, selling United Kingdom’s finest. Anxo sells Oliver’s cider nationwide, as well as Little Pomona and Ross On Wye in 20 states. Next up, sidra from Spanish producers.
“Cider is made like wine, but sold like beer,” says Fitz, and Anxo is further blurring the lines with three collaborations, beer-cider hybrids, or biere de pomme. These collaborations were done a few years ago, kegged and in cold storage. “Don’t worry,” says Cooper Sheehan, another co-founder of Anxo, and the person responsible for most of the beer buying at the cidery. “The beer parts of these hybrids don’t have a ton of hops in them, think base beers like golden ales and mixed fermentation saisons.” During the pandemic Sheehan was able to do a bit of can art and package the biere de pommes into 12-ounce crowlers.
The brewery partners were natural fits for Anxo. Sheehan and Fitz went to college with the founders of Asheville, NC’s Hi-Wire Brewing. Hi-XO is a good entry point into the collaborations, which are being sold as 4-packs, says Fitz, noting that this light biere de pomme “doesn’t taste like cider, but does taste a bit like apples.” Anxo sourced North Carolina dessert apples, which were then fermented atop a golden sour ale from Hi-Wire.
ANXBOW started with a rose cider from red fleshed apples that Anxo handed off to Owbox Brewing, a collaboration years long in the making. Oxbow founder and co-owner Tim Adams was DC’s sales representative for Peak Organic and some of his first homebrews were done in Fitz’s basement. Adams is also the godfather of Fitz’s child, with Fitz’s wedding taking place at the Maine brewery. A slightly larger portion of Metalface, a mixed fermentation saison, was added to the cider, following a series of conversations that took place via email.
The third biere de pomme has been available for purchase in DC before, at The Bruery Store. ANXOREUX is a blend of two Bruery beers, a golden sour and Wit the Funk, and pressed Newtown Pippin apples from California. The collaboration began when The Bruery invited Anxo to pour at a California festival, and then came to fruition when The Bruery opened their Union Market location. Newtown Pippin apples became widely available when Martinelli, the apple juice giant and bodega mainstay, moved to a different apple for its juice, leading to a glut.
There’s another beer connection to Anxo, this one a bit more local. Right Proper’s Brookland production facility sold three foeders used for mixed fermentation beers as that location now cans amid increased production of Senate Lager, Raised By Wolves, and other Right Proper flagships. One foeder went to Oxbow, the other two to Anxo, which is building a cidery in Chambersburg, PA, two hours drive from the District and close to the Adams County orchards from which they source apples. The terms of the sale of brewing equipment included a provision that Right Proper get the first batch of cider from these foeders; look for that in DC this fall.