High Limb Cider offers a unique food and drink experience in West Plymouth.
By Kate Sheehan - Photography by Kjeld Mahoney
At High Limb Cider’s West Plymouth taproom, a tattooed man in his 20s enthusiastically makes his way through a sampling of the brand’s offerings. “I’m not even a cider guy but, dude, that blew my mind,” he says.
“Yeah, cider is, like, my favorite thing ever,” his friend responds in agreement.
Overhearing this exchange, High Limb’s founder, Jeremy Quaglia, breaks into a broad, self-effacing grin. “I swear I didn’t pay them to say that,” he says with a laugh.
On this Friday afternoon, visitors are trickling in—some in search of their favorite four-pack to take home, others sidling up to one of several high-top tables with a front-row seat to the production and canning process. The taproom, which opened in late October, is an evolution of the business Quaglia started seven years ago as Homestead Cider, working out of the basement of his childhood home in Attleboro.
“I fell in love with the art of fermentation; the process of turning nothing into something was really beautiful to me,” says Quaglia, who previously worked in the music industry. “The cider market was blossoming and I knew it was the direction for me.” Quaglia has since transformed his subterranean cidery into a brick-and-mortar business, rebranded as High Limb Cider, and perfected his recipes through lots of trial and error.
Today, Quaglia’s labor of love anchors a 25,000-square-foot facility that will soon be home to Providence-based GPub. Slated to open mid-2021, the restaurant will offer multiple dining, entertainment and event spaces under one roof, unified by a vibe of elevated comfort and fun. “The goal is a big, collaborative, immersive experience where you can spend the entire day,” says Quaglia. “Good food, cool music, innovative products and a completely seamless experience—you can start in the taproom and pay your tab in the speakeasy.”
Tucked between a liquor store and an abandoned retail space, the cidery’s location—a former Planet Fitness—seems unlikely at first. Step over the threshold, however, and guests find themselves at the intersection of high concept and low key. Past the gastropub’s 25-tap marble bar and a massive wall that is papered in a bold, modern floral pattern, the taproom welcomes cider newbies and enthusiasts alike.
Everything at High Limb exudes the kind of ease that is possible only through thoughtful choices. Enjoy a flight of four ciders for $10 or commit to a pint for $7. The staff is happy to guide you through the 10 or so ciders on tap, from traditional to adventurous and sweet to dry, but you won’t be bombarded with a master class on the details. Even so, while Quaglia and his team are reluctant to take themselves too seriously, they are eager to share their passion and knowledge with the curious.
Although High Limb’s production facility resembles many craft breweries, the process of making cider is more analogous to winemaking. Apples, like grapes, are pressed into juice and fermented with the help of yeast and sugar. Fiddle with the variety and amounts of each, introduce other ingredients to switch up the flavor profile and sweetness, allow for the signature style of the maker, and the results can be memorable. “We’re using technique and tradition from beer and wine but refreshing it in our own way,” Quaglia explains.
Apples, of course, are the starting point for High Limb’s constellation of 10 unfiltered ciders. They work with local growers who supply the varieties they want for upcoming releases and handle the juice pressing.
High Limb’s core series includes flagship and seasonal recipes. There’s The OG—the original blend—as well as Honeypot, which is a Saison-style featuring New England honey, and Layers, which uses late season apples fermented with local cranberries from Bluewater Farm in Wareham. For those looking for something lower in calories, High Limb Light hits the mark without sacrificing flavor.
The cidery’s more experimental offerings are found in the limited-run Batch series. The third release, New England, honors the region’s tradition of fermenting with brown sugar and raisins, while the fourth, Brite Side, is a “happy accident” featuring lemon and ginger. The first release in High Limb’s Noble series is Smoked and at 10 percent ABV (alcohol by volume), it delivers. Presented in a 750ml format, this is the cidery’s nod to the German brewing tradition of Rauchbier. It features New England apples smoked in small batches over hand-harvested beechwood, and showcases more complex techniques.
Keeping the High Limb line rooted in the long tradition of cidermaking but with room for creativity and experimentation is at the heart of Quaglia’s approach. “Right now, we’re working on a Chablis-style fermented on oyster shells,” he explains. “It’s about tipping your cap to place and time and terroir but not being super self-important about it. We still want to be fun.”
Jarrod Carter, High Limb’s head of operations, designed the taproom’s small but highly customizable menu of house-made sandwiches, charcuterie boards, and accompaniments to complement the cider. His olive-infused hummus and cider-pickled blueberries stand out.
“Consumers are very well informed and intelligent,” says Carter. “They want to know that care and thought is going into every single plate. That extends to the craft beverage market.”
Quaglia concurs. “It’s not all about money. It’s about creating space where someone has a good time, tries something new, and they want to come back.”