Cider Corps: Brothers open Arizona’s First Cidery in Mesa

Original Article Via Phoenix Business Journal

Arizona’s first hard cider house, Cider Corps, opened in downtown Mesa last November on Veterans Day, and the opening date was no coincidence.

The cidery is veteran-owned, and started as a therapeutic hobby after co-owner, Jason Duren, hit two IEDs in Afghanistan while serving in the Marines, and was medically retired in 2012.

Sent home with a Purple Heart and traumatic brain injuries, he was looking for a hobby to pass time while recovering, so he and his brother, Josh Duren, started brewing ciders in their garage. They decided to brew cider just to do something different from everyone else.

“Yeah, there were no business aspirations, it was a therapeutic hobby, and it was time for us really to hang out,” Josh said.

The hobby didn’t last long, and soon through mutual friends, the Durens were swayed into a casual meet-and-greet with a buyer from Fox Concepts, Matt Snap, in November 2015. The brothers were mainly just looking for some honest feedback, but Snap immediately fell in love with ciders and tried purchasing kegs on the spot.

“Up until then it still wasn’t really like a business thing,” Josh said while recounting that day.  “But then it was like-one of the biggest restaurant groups in the state wants to buy our cider-we should go into business!”

Cider Corps was essentially born on that November day, but their journey had just begun. It took almost two years to find the funding, a location, and get through the permitting process. The City of Mesa was instrumental to the cidery opening by providing grants that were created in an effort to revitalize, and re-brand Downtown Mesa; while also working with local property owners to find them a suitable location.

“They really started to rally behind us, to have us in Downtown Mesa because we were the first full-blown cidery and taproom in Arizona,” Jason said, while explaining that Cider Corps is the first exclusive cidery with a taproom in the state.

Jason says they were denied loans. “We didn’t have a ton of money, and since there were no cideries to compare to, banks wouldn’t touch us,” he said.

Eventually, they connected with the Neighborhood Economic Development Corporation, a nonprofit organization, which specializes in small business lending through the assistance of grants provided by Mesa. They were finally approved for a loan through NEDCO’s City of Mesa Business Development Loan Program, the brothers explained.