Ironbark is a family business, started by Cat Fleming and Jim Coffman with their children, Harrison Fleming and Maya Davis. Cat started home brewing cider with a friend, in 2014 because she couldn’t find a drink that was gluten free and sugar free with no added sulfites. After a year of trial and error and some crazy home brew experiments, Cat started to make some pretty drinkable cider and got the idea of doing something with it commercially.
In 2016 Jim decided to join Cat in her enterprise and suggested they accelerate their business plans. They promptly signed up for classes in Fermentation Science and rented their space in Claremont. They incorporated in August of 2016, it took a year and a half to get fully set up and they opened for business in November of 2017.
Cat and Jim now produce an extensive portfolio of craft ciders in-house and they have a tasting room where people can try them all. They keep a core set of ciders on tap, including their flagships, “The Duchess,” (created by their son, Harrison), "Passionista", "Hoppelgänger, "OG Apple", "Sassy Simpson" "Twilight", "Jamaica" and "Impeached", as well as a series of eclectic seasonals. They are constantly refining their recipes and experimenting with new ones.
“The thing that makes craft cider exciting is that even with the same recipes, each batch of cider is different to the next.” They don’t use chemicals to keep everything uniform, they adapt to the fruit and make it work in the most natural, artisanal way possible. One of the biggest variables in cidercraft is the apple itself, because apples vary in character throughout the season. New season apples are quite tart, with higher acid content and lower pH and by the end of the season they are super sweet with a much higher pH. Ironbark’s cidercraft is specifically tailored to be an “all natural” process, they don’t use sulfites or any other chemical preservatives. The fact is, they don’t have to use any preservatives, because their cider is fermented to dry, which makes it shelf stable.
At Ironbark they will always have something new on tap because they love experimenting and their tasting room is quite different from the typical brewery. It is all bright colors with mod furniture and fun art on the walls. “We want the Ironbark experience to be a colorful, inclusive celebration of life,” says Cat. Ironbark Ciderworks is not just for one sector of the community, it’s for everyone. Local musicians, poets, writers, artists and actors perform there and they are open to other avenues of expression. Cat and Jim have seen that women and non-binary people are seriously underrepresented in the arts and they think that's not fair, so they are actively working to change it. That’s why they try to have 50% identifying female/non-binary representation in all the artists they feature at Ironbark.
If you are ever in Claremont, California, come visit the tasting room. It is fun, safe, inclusive and has a great variety of heavenly ciders on tap.
See you soon...