Michigan beverage company Blake’s Beverage Company — which makes Blake’s Hard Cider — merged with local hard cider business Austin Eastciders this fall. The boozy beverage merger happened on November 1.
This is Blake’s second cidery merger in the past two years. It acquired Bend, Oregon-based Avid Cider Company in March 2022. The company’s goal is to “become the largest independence cider company” in America, according to CEO and founder Andrew Blake via a press release. Now with three hard cider businesses, Blake’s oversees operations and farms in New York, Michigan, Oregon, and Texas.
Austin Eastciders founder Ed Gibson, who had owned a cider bar in England before moving to Austin, started the business in 2013 with Mark King. There’s original dry cider flavor, along with fun ones like the blood orange, pineapple, Texas honey, rosé, and Imperial cider tropical punch. Then there are limited releases like spiced peach, watermelon, and cranberry.
Eastciders’s grown rapidly since then, with its ciders available throughout the company. There’s the main production facility in Southeast Austin, plus the tasting room, called the Collaboratory, in Govalle. There had been a taproom on Barton Springs, which opened in 2020, but closed in March 2023 so that the company can focus on production (that address is now home to the brand-new modern Chinese restaurant Zoé Tong, which opened last week). In March 2020, the company raised $5.7 million in equity funding from six investors in March 2020.
Gibson since left Austin to co-found Bristol, England-based Branch Cider in 2022. Current president and CEO John Glick (who started in March 2022) is staying with the Texas company during this time.
Gerald Blake and Elisabeth Blake founded Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill in Armada, Michigan in 1946. The farm stayed in the family, and in 2013, Andrew Blake started Blake’s Hard Cider, using apples from the farm. It expanded with availability throughout America.
Update, 4:21 p.m. This article, originally published at 11:26 a.m., has been updated to clarify that Blake’s Hard Cider merged with Austin Eastciders and that it did not acquire it.