SPOKANE, Wash. - Grant Barnes wanted a home brewing kit for Father's Day, but his wife bought him a cider making kit instead. And his first attempt was a disaster.
"It ended up turning into vinegar," recalled Barnes with a laugh. "And then we were like, 'We live in an apple state. How hard can this be?'"
Barnes and Neal Hennessy were co-workers at a cell phone company when they decided to fully commit to starting One Tree Hard Cider.
"And it just exploded," said Barnes. "People obviously loved cider and we kind of filled that need here in Spokane."
Barnes said he and Hennessy knew they were onto something when they received a call from the Post Street Ale House.
"Up until that point, no one had ever called us and, like, demanded our product."
One Tree uses only Washington apples and its ciders are 100-percent natural.
"We're using all real fruit puree. We use real apple cider. There's no concentrate craziness in there."
And Barnes and Hennessy are pretty much the opposite of cider snobs.
"We're goofballs. We're nerds," explained Barnes. "We like having fun. We like experimenting. We want people to not have to guess like what's in the product."
One Tree makes four core ciders and several seasonal ciders as well. But it's Lemon Basil is by far its most popular product.
"They taste it and they're like, 'How do i get it?' 'How much can you give me?'"
One Tree opened its cider house on S. Madison St., on the west end of downtown, back on Sept. 1. It always features 20 ciders on tap, most of them from other cider companies.
"We can bring awareness, not only to the cider movement and what ciders can differ from dry to sweet," said Barnes. "And then obviously we have food and it's just a fun environment for all of four friends."
These days, One Tree is making about 80 barrels of cider a week or over 100-thousand gallons a year.
Every other week, it bottles a massive amount of cider and spends the rest of the time breaking down and cleaning equipment and draft kegs.
"It's constant. We're operating five days a week. And most of the time, six days a week."
One Tree has distribution in four different states with a fifth on the way. And according to Barnes, it can be found just about anywhere in Washington and Idaho.
"Total Wine and More, Costco, BevMo and all the local chains that have helped us so much, like Yoke's and Rosauers, Super 1 Foods."
And after doubling in sales every year so far, the future for One Tree looks as sweet as its ciders.
"We can build that awesome business culture and hire more people and we can grow that message about who One Tree is and what we can do for the community."