BY GREG SIERING
As owners of Friendly Beasts Cider Company, Fatima Carson and her husband, Ben Romlein, enjoy creating hard ciders that they say challenge people’s expectation of what ciders can be, tailoring them to the changing seasons and to a wide variety of tastes.
The taproom, located along the B-Line Trail just north of 2nd Street, always has five ciders ready for visitors. Expect to find one sweet cider and one semi-dry. After that, you’ll find a lot of variety—ciders crafted with other fruits like peaches or raspberries, ciders with a hint of spices like ginger or cinnamon, and other cider creations.
“Cider is fun to play with because it allows for so much variation,” says Carson, who notes ciders can be made more like beer or wine to appeal to different palates. One way is to include hops, which they have done with a few of their styles or to allow wild fermentations to create somewhat funky ciders that are reminiscent of sour ales.
Romlein says artisanal ciders like theirs offer more variety and thus move beyond the limitations of mass-produced commercial ciders. He adds that because their ciders are handcrafted in small batches—and because the apples vary by variety and season—each visit to Friendly Beasts can be different.
Friendly Beasts opened in September 2017, and since then visitors have been able to sample its ciders in the taproom or in a take-home growler. Now, with a year of business behind them, Carson and Romlein, both 33 and graduates of the Indiana University School of Public and Environmental Affairs, are working to scale up production. They plan to partner with other local businesses to have their ciders on tap in Bloomington bars and restaurants sometime this fall.
The two believe their cidery “resonates with this community,” noting that because Bloomington supports small, creative, and independently owned businesses, they’ve been able to turn their love of making cider into a business. They also say they are proud to have overheard visitors to Friendly Beasts state, “This place is so Bloomington.”
For more information, including current cider offerings and taproom hours, visit friendlybeastscider.com.