Basque-style cider crops up at Lincoln Heights brewery

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Poured straight from the source, beer from a tank bar is “the freshest beer you can ever get,” says Chelsey Rosetter. Photo by Kat Hanegraaf.

Benny Boy Brewing is the first brewery in Los Angeles to make Manzana Rustica, a dry cider that dates back to the year 1,000 and originates in Spain's autonomous Basque region. When co-owners Chelsey Rosetter and Benny Farber were looking for a location, they decided Lincoln Heights was the perfect pairing for their community-based operation.

Farber explains that Basque styles differ from other ciders in that spontaneous fermentation occurs with the wild yeast on the skin and in the apple flesh. “It’s similar to how natural wine is made,” he says, with minimal intervention and often fermented in a barrel where the oxygen entering gives the brew its distinct flavor. 

Rosetter says the brewery sources all of their apples from The Five Mile Orchard in Watsonville, explaining this is a California version of a Basque cider. The Newtown Pippin variety is the base for most of their ciders, differing from a culinary apple in size, appearance, and tartness. 

Benny Farber (left) spent time in Belgium learning Old World brewing techniques before opening Benny Boy Brewing in Lincoln Heights with Chelsey Rosetter. Photo by Kat Hanegraaf.