PROVINCETOWN — Robert Brosofsky is passionate about two things: cider and Provincetown. And he’s visibly happy to be combining them at Shoal Hope Ciderworks, tucked into a retrofitted bay of an automotive garage off Conwell Street at the tip of Cape Cod. After a four-year learning curve, Brosofsky delivered his first orders of hard cider to local restaurants and markets one year ago.
He loves cider because the sulfites in wine give him headaches and he’s not fond of beer. He loves Provincetown because it’s laid back and inclusive. “Anytime I feel like I’m a little odd, I just walk down the street,’’ he says. “Everyone here is just so comfortable with who they are.’’
Craft cider is the new craft beer, Brosofsky says, noting that the craft cider industry saw 32 percent growth last year, according to Nielsen research.
Brosofsky favors UK-style cider, that is, dry and crisp. Shoal Hope brews four varieties with juice from a company in Leominster. The flagship Monument is an off-dry cider flavored with dark brown sugar, which imparts a molasses flavor. Honey Baby is a golden, semisweet cider flavored with cranberry bog honey. Fermented dry and aged in American craft whiskey barrels for six to eight weeks, Empty Barrel is infused with subtle traditional whisky flavors. Little Tart is a blend of apple and cranberry juices (the cranberry juice comes from Wareham bogs) fermented together and then sweetened with cane sugar. All four varieties medaled in this year’s Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition. Monument, Honey Baby, and Little Tart earned silver medals, while Empty Barrel took a bronze.
The cider maker honed his craft by reading, seeking advice from other cider makers, attending events such as CiderCon, and taking a course in cider making at Cornell University. Coming from the oil and gas industry, where business was territorial and trade secrets closely guarded, Brosofsky says he has been blown away by the support of other cider makers as well as the town and local businesses. His sales background is evident in his volubility and enthusiasm for the product, and he has managed to get Shoal Hope cider into some 70 outlets, including restaurants, liquor stores, and markets, mostly on the Cape.
The name refers to an early but short-lived name for Cape Cod. Approaching the Cape in 1602, Captain Bartholomew Gosnold thought it was an island and named it Shoal Hope. The next day, he discovered his error and renamed the area Cape Cod to recognize the plentiful stores of cod fish.
What’s next for Shoal Hope? Brosofsky is working on ways to maximize production in the cramped space, including taller (but not wider) tanks and possibly moving his walk-in cooler outside. He’s considering plastic bottles that customers can take to the beach. And he’s working on a new flavor that’s still top secret and will be unveiled this summer. “All I can tell you is that it will be the first of its kind,’’ he says, adding that his testers have called it “magical.’’