Who The Heck is Western Cider?
WESTERN CIDER is located on the banks of the Clark Fork River in Missoula, Montana. Our dream was seeded in 2012 when co-founder Michael Billingsley planted 2,500 cider apple trees in Montana's Bitterroot Valley - just south of Missoula. Now, we have nearly 5,000 trees and over 50 varieties of apples. We use those apples, as well as apples from Northwest orchards, to produce easy going and traditional ciders. We are plain-speaking cider weirdos who can hang with the nerdiest of cider nerds and the gnarliest of dive bar flies. As a company, Western Cider aspires to create an institution of great cider, good times and a life worth living in this far-flung region of the American West.
Billingsley Cider Orchard was established in Stevensville, Montana in 2010 by Western Cider’s co-founder Michael Billingsley and his wife Arielle. They found a bench with bare land above the valley floor. Historically, this bench was heavily planted with apple trees in the Bitterroot apple boom days. Irrigation for the orchard is gravity fed from The Big Ditch, which was originally constructed at the turn of the century to irrigate the original Bitterroot apple orchards. Our orchard takes inspiration and planting styles from modern American dessert apple orchards, French cidre orchards, Spanish Sidra orchards, English cider orchards, and Michael’s own hair brain ideas.
The Tasting Room
We opened our tasting room doors in April of 2017. The building, which is now our production facility and tasting room, was previously a tannery and tire shop. Our tasting room is expansive - with a long oak bar, plenty of seating, and a beautiful riverside cider garden. Our patio is perfectly perched to view the surrounding mountain ranges and is home to 50 cider apple trees which demonstrate some of what we grow in our Bitterroot Valley orchard. We offer seasonally curated cheese plates year round. There is always a tour, tasting, music, trivia, or bizarre event happening. Our staff are all certified cider professionals without pretension - just smiles. We offer tasting boards of our cider menu - which is a rotating cast of 12 unique ciders, all made in-house.
Orchard to Glass
Part of Western Cider's mission is to create 'easy going and traditional' ciders. The traditional ciders are crafted using cider apples from our orchard in the Bitterroot Valley, neighboring orchards, and apples gleaned through our Community Cider Collaborations. Ciders such as Farmhouse, Wickson, Hewe's Rouge, and other heirloom varieties can only be found in our tasting room. Our easy going ciders use apples from our neighbors to the west - Oregon and Washington - and range from off-dry classics like the Poor Farmer, to less traditional ciders like Whiskey Peach and Sour Cherry. Those ciders can be found in cans, bottles, and on draft throughout Montana. We are committed to making cider for everyone, which means easy and complex, affordable and high-end, traditional and experimental. With a constantly rotating cast of one-off ciders and our flagship staples - we guarantee you will find at least one cider you fall in love with.
Western Cider reflects the communal spirit and family-friendly atmosphere that Missoula prides itself on. We host weekly fundraisers, game nights, live music, insane one-off events, river floats, art nights, and all kinds of fun stuff in between. We strongly believe in contributing to the stewards of our community and are dedicated to helping those that improve life for others. We also strongly believe in throwing a great party, enjoying life to the fullest, and helping others do the same!