‘A Quality Product That Everyone Can Enjoy’: 814 Cider Works Rolls Out First Cider In Beaver Stadium
Brothers Matt and Andrew LeClair were just toddlers when their father, John LeClair, purchased a plot of rolling cornfields on Shingletown Road in 1982.
The land has served several different purposes for the family, including stints as a plum, peach, and pear farm, a vineyard, a nursery, and more. But 37 years later, Matt and Andrew knew the land was destined for a greater purpose: a craft cidery.
Though never really cider drinkers themselves, the brothers believed a cidery was the logical, sustainable next step for their family’s land.
So the brothers opened 814 Cider Works at J.L. Farm in June 2019, just eight months after moving back home and learning the ins and outs of cider production from scratch.
From the very beginning of 814 Cider Works, Matt and Andrew always kept their State College roots in mind when brewing cider. Though, according to Andrew, naming the beverages is one of the hardest parts of the job, it’s clear with cider names like “White Out,” “Habby Valley,” “Home Game Blues,” and “Shingletown Semi” that Happy Valley is the driving force behind much of the cidery’s inspiration.
The sibling pair comes from a family of Penn Staters and created 814 Cider Works with the university and college-town community at the forefront of its business plan.
But within its first year of operation, the State College cidery, like the rest of the world, was slowed down by the onset of COVID-19.
“We were open for maybe six months before the shutdowns, and then we had to jump through hoops and ladders to decide if were we willing to go through all the hoops that allowed us to be open and create an environment where people felt safe and see a sense of normalcy in such a crazy, trying time,” Andrew said.
Though business slowed a little and forced Andrew and Matt to rethink their options, their desire to serve the community that raised them outshone any hesitation regarding the future of the cidery.
Trust in their endeavor paid off, and 814 Cider Works benefitted immensely from locals who trusted the business right back and found it to be a safe, enjoyable place to lay low and drink quality cider throughout the pandemic.
From there, the cidery has only increased in scale and popularity and recently made its way into Beaver Stadium for the 2023 football season for the first time on September 2.
814 Cider Works’ semi-sweet, grape-flavored cider, White Out, is available at every home game in 16-ounce cans for $14.
“White Out’s one of those ciders that checks off a lot of boxes for a lot of different people,” Andrew said. “I feel like a lot of people that walk through the door that may or may not be cider people to begin with, leave as newly-found cider drinkers.”
White Out has been around since 814 Cider Works’ inception and is a “staple” in its six-cider rotation. While Matt and Andrew have only been in the cider industry for about four years, they never could’ve predicted their beverage would be sold in the stadium of their alma mater’s top-ranked football team.
Though it’s a dream come true for the brothers, the duo knows they’re just a small part of the Happy Valley haven that’s raised and supported them.
“At the end of the day, it’s kind of marking off our goals of taking care of the community and giving back to Penn State for what they gave us,” Andrew said.
Despite humble mindsets about 814 Cider Works’ success, the numbers don’t lie, and more and more folks in Beaver Stadium are opting for White Out each week.
“It’s only been increasing,” Matt said. “That’s great to hear for sure. They’ve been doubling their orders, and that’s awesome.”
814 Cider Works has created 17 ciders in its four-year existence and has no plans to slow down production following the success of White Out in Beaver Stadium thus far.
And regardless of what’s next for Matt, Andrew, and 814 Cider Works, the cidery’s drive for excellence and community camaraderie is at the core of their daily mission.
“No matter what, we still stick to the same parameter of a quality product that everyone can enjoy and something that brings the community together,” Andrew said.
Your ad blocker is on.
Please choose an option below.
Purchase a Subscription!
About the Author
When paired with the Thespian Society by Penn State THON, the world changed for Theresa Illicete.
Fashanu is the Nittany Lions’ most recent First-Team All-American since Micah Parsons in 2019.
Johnson is the second Penn Stater to declare for the NFL Draft.