Jersey Cider Works Brings Hard Cider Brewing Back to NJ

Steve Adubato talks to Charles Rosen, owner and CEO of New Ark Farms and Jersey Cider Works, about the history of cider brewing in Newark, his innovative business model and how he is bringing hard cider back to New Jersey.

12/7/16 #1927






"We are pleased to be joined by Mister Charles Rosen, owner and CEO, New Ark Farms, and Jersey Cider Works. Good to see you Charles. Good to see you Steve. You have brought props? I have. I want to understand something here. We are talking about cider, and its connection to the city of Newark? Cider is Newark's oldest industry? That's right. I thought beer was? No. George Washington only drank Newark's cider. It was known as the champagne of ciders in the 1700's and 1800's, and as a matter of fact, in great, like Newark fashion, it was... because it was known as the champagne of ciders, they actually sold it on the black market as champagne, and I have an article from 1862 talking about Newark's cider as champagne, but spelled "s-h-a-m" like a "sham". Is that right? Yeah, it was a big deal. And what do you have there by the way? So this is our inaugural product, Ironbound Hard Cider. Made where? Well, so our... we're... Why is it called Ironbound? Ironbound? Like we are in, literally in the Ironbound. We're in the Ironbound. Yeah. So our... we were based... are based in the old Ballantine Brewery, but in New Jersey to be a cider, you have to have a winery license. And to have a winery license, you have to be engaged in commercial agriculture, so we have our farm out in Hunterdon County, it's about a hundred acres out in Hunterdon, and... but our workforce comes from Newark everyday, to the farm, and so we hire primarily formerly incarcerated men and women out of Newark, and we have a whole workforce development program rooted in conflict resolution, and communication skills, and identity value work. So it's an opportunity for these... for our folks to come out of the city on a daily basis, work at the farm, and so but we're very connected to the city, both in our workforce and our heritage. You know, in fact, the whole prisoner reentry issue which we're fascinated by, former Governor Jim McGreevey... Yes. ...has been leading this effort, along with some others, and we're actually having discussions about him as to how we can actually engage in this discussion, and understand this more. Yeah. My understanding is you work with his group as well? That's correct. To identify people who have been incarcerated? Yes. Who are out? Who are getting trained, and are looking to get back into the workforce? That's exactly right. So Governor McGreevey's created a remarkable program where, although we started for about four or five years without working with Governor McGreevey, a lot of the folks... By the way, we should make it clear..."