Western Cider’s GREAT BEAR APPLE DRIVE starts September 7th with a Kickoff Party to usher in the fruit! We will be accepting apples from September 7th until October 31st. To top it off, we are releasing the Great Bear Community Cider Batch No. 3 from last year’s harvest while listening to tunes by Westfork Music from 6-8PM.

This year, Western Cider is ramping up our search for community apples. The GREAT BEAR APPLE DRIVE is an apple harvest with a very simple concept: for every 40 pounds of apples you bring us, we will give you a $5 certificate in return. More important than the tradeoff, your contribution of apples is a collaboration to produce the most local of Missoula beverages besides water – hard cider!

Western Cider began the Community Cider Collaborations to create the most local ciders available to the Missoula region. To do this, we partner with different organizations because of their link to Missoula’s apple heritage and to utilize their access to fruit. These organizations have different missions, but share a common bond to gleaning and growing apples. This mobilization of volunteers, coupled with Western Cider’s Great Bear Apple Drive, manages to collect thousands of pounds of apples from around the area.

After the apples are collected, they are pressed into juice, fermented, matured, packaged, and eventually sold out of our tasting room. With our Community Cider Collaborations, we give back 10% of sales to the partnering organization. In 2017, we collaborated with the Great Bear Foundation and the Moon-Randolph Homestead for our first round of Community Ciders. For years, the GBF has run the Bears and Apples Program in attempt to keep bears from scavenging apples in Missoula’s urban areas. The Moon-Randolph Homestead has deep roots in the apple community because of their 130 year old apple orchard in Missoula’s North Hills. Both the Great Bear and the Homestead ciders made from last year’s gleaning efforts became the local, go-to ciders on tap in our tasting room.

In 2018, we are happy to bring on Garden City Harvest as a resource for finding apples, organizing volunteer pickers, and collecting fruit. Garden City Cider will be our third Community Cider. If you are unable to collect the apples in your yard, arrange pickers from Garden City Harvest and the Great Bear Foundation to help you out by visiting gardencityharvest.org.

Our second annual Apple Drive will run from September through the end of October. To get involved, please, bring a minimum of 40 pounds of apples to our tasting room at 501 N. California St. in Missoula, Montana between Noon and 6PM, seven days a week. We would prefer your apples contained in a fruit box. If you are bringing more than 200 pounds, please, arrange a separate time by emailing michael@westerncider.com. Please, no rotten, bruised, or open fleshed apples. Worms are OK!

The various Community Ciders created from these apples will be released throughout 2019.