Couple brings cidery to Otter Tail County
1910 Sip House opened Oct. 3 near Ottertail.
What comes next after 30 years of owning an eyeglass shop in Colorado? For Karena and Jeff Lees, opening a cidery in Minnesota’s Lakes Country comes next.
After two years of hard work, the Lees held the grand opening of their new cidery, 1910 Sip House, on Saturday, Oct. 3. The business is at 41714 Foursquare Road, Battle Lake.
Karen is a Fergus Falls native and Jeff is from Colorado, where they ran the eyeglass shop that his parents had started. With the help of Karen’s sister, “we bought this property in February 2018 literally unseen,” Karen said.
Where the 1910 Sip House now sits originally had an old broken barn. “We took the barn down and came up with the idea to put our sip house inside a grain bin,” Karen said.
Jeff said the grain bin came from Fergus Falls and had been partially destroyed by a fallen tree. After replacing the roof, having the windows and doors installed, having electricity put in and plumbing, the Lees did the rest of the work themselves.
On tap at 1910 Sip House will be Ethel’s Dry Cider fermented on-site using apple juice from Mississippi Valley of Lake City, Minn. According to Jeff, making cider is a simpler process than brewing beer. “From the orchard to the fermentation tank is less than 36 hours,” he said.
“Our cider isn’t sweet,” Karen said.
After a winter of experimenting with the brew, the cider being made at the 1910 Sip House is being made with a specific yeast strain. “Ethel’s Dry Cider is just pleasantly dry, somewhat apple-y, but just beautiful base that’s just willing for flavor,” Jeff said. He said that it is almost like a low proof vodka because it is so versatile.
Because of the small size of the cidery, cider will be flavored to the glass instead of by the batch kept in a keg. The cider will go from the fermentation tank to the bright tank, where the cider is cooled, carbonated, and served from. Then the cider will be flavored to the glass using a variety of juices and simples syrup. “ It’s kind of like coffee shop style,” Jeff said. “Like I want a vanilla or I want mocha and its coffee to the glass.”
“We just want to find our niche,” Jeff said. He said that so far they have experimented with putting pickle juice in the cider, which they call Pickledilly, and with their blend called the Crandemic, which won best cider at the 2020 Detroit Lakes Cider Fest.
Karen said the Cidery will be open Wednesdays through Sundays. She added the hours will change seasonally. Private parties will also be welcome and the cidery can be opened or closed for private parties, she said, “just ask.”
“It’s fun,” Karen said. “I want to have fun now. We’re too young to retire so I just want to have fun now.”
According to Karen, having fun and making people happy in a fun sip house setting is the goal with 1910 Sip House. Besides being in a grain bin, the cidery features repurposed wood from the barn that originally was on the site and outdoor seating in an old corn crib.
“It feels like we’re living our dream at 50 years old,” Jeff said. “I could really coast into our 70s doing just this.”
More information on 1910 Sip House
Open Wednesday-Saturday 2-8 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
41714 Foursquare Road, Battle Lake