One-time mechanical engineer loved cider so much, he started making it at home — now he runs (and cleans at) Locust Cider.

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Jason Spears

What do you do? I make and sell hard cider [at Locust Cider in Woodinville]. Well, mostly I try to keep my team happy so they can make and sell hard cider, while I just pay a lot of bills.

How did you get started in that field? The normal route: mechanical engineer to restaurant owner to concert promoter to restaurant designer to supply chain to cider. Natural, right? I became a home cider maker almost the instant I started drinking cider, because at the time, the variety of cider was limited. As a serial entrepreneur, it had to turn into something more because I loved it so much.

What’s a typical day like? Today, I started by loading 150 kegs on pallets, then on a truck going to San Francisco. Kegged our apricot cider. Next, tasted trials of our upcoming “Session Berry” to fine-tune the formula. Tracked down our shipment of new cans. Cooked 100 pounds of meat for our one-year anniversary (Texas BBQ is my other passion). Mopped the floor. Ran tests on all aging cider. Paid some bills. Changed clothes to prepare for our anniversary party tonight!

What’s the best part of the job? Number one is watching my team’s skill and passion for cider grow greater every day. I especially love it when the team just nails a new cider — our Wabi Sabi was the first formula recently promoted cider-maker Chelsea first developed, and it’s possibly our best. I also love writing a check every quarter to the Hydrocephalus Association, our cause, because I know I’m helping my daughter and others all over the country.

What surprises people about what you do? People are surprised how much time is spent on things other than cider-making — cleaning, warehousing, logistics, sales, cleaning, cleaning and cleaning. But I always make sure every day includes time for tasting.

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