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Local airman slated to change the cider game

His cider house. His rules.

After winning a $50,000 award for his business startup plan, Air Force veteran Nick Timm is ready to take on all challengers in the hard cider biz. Photo credit: Nick Timm

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Tart Cidery is a startup company, but co-founder Nick Timm is anything but a novice when it comes to turning apples into something amazing. Growing up on an apple and cherry orchard in central Washington, the Air Force veteran and current Reserve member learned how to brew hard cider at a young age with various mixtures of farm stock and a few household goods. Slightly shady origins, but Nick swears his friends strongly approved of the final results, and his alchemical aspirations paid off in a big way.

Based out of the University of Washington, The Veterans Incubator for Better Entrepreneurship (VIBE) provides training and funding for military veterans' startup businesses. Starting a business takes a lot of money, though, and there's only so much to go around, so any vets hoping to win VIBE's coveted $50,000 award had to brave a rigorous three-round, uh, vetting process.

The first round was simple enough. Nick and business partner and fellow vet Zoe Van Schyndel submitted their business plan. The second round whittled the hopefuls down to just 15 applicants, who then went on to present their business plans at a trade show, which whittled the numbers down even more. The third round put the five remaining teams before a panel of judges made up of local entrepreneurs and investors in what Nick called "a Shark Tank-style elimination round."

At the end of it all, though, Nick and Zoe walked away with $25,000 in startup money and an additional $25,000 in time and services.

"It put us a year ahead from where we were," Nick said. "We're already poised to be in twenty bars and restaurants in the South Sound area by the end of next month."

So what does Tart Hard Cider offer that sets it apart from the Angry Orchards, Smith & Forges and other boozy fruit juices out there? As the Bard wrote, "What's in a name?"

"Instead of being watery or too sweet, our cider is tart," Nick said. "It tastes like you're biting into a Granny Smith apple."

Hood River Juice Co. presses Tart's unique blend of the more sour members of the apple family, with just a tiny bit of some of the sweeter ones to create Tart's signature flavor. And with a 6.9-percent alcohol volume, it packs quite a punch.

"This is a unique product on the market. There is no other product like this at this time," Nick said.

You don't have to take Nick's word for it. Curious connoisseurs can get a sneak preview at this year's Tacoma Wined Up, June 10, at Tacoma Armory, where the fruits of Nick's labors will be on-tap along with more than 20 other Northwest brewers and vintners, all complemented with assorted cheeses and charcuterie.

If a casual tasting venue is more your style, there's the first official keg tapping, June 30, at Odd Otter Brewery, where you can try the "Nick Timm Special."

"A shot of whiskey, a shot of Fireball and Tart. It's amazing," Nick said. "People will try it and ask, ‘What IS this?!' and I show them my cider and tell them ‘THIS is this.'"

For more information on Tart Hard Cider, please visit

Tacoma Wined Up, 2-6 p.m., Saturday, June 10, $50-$75, Tacoma Armory, 715 S. 11th St., 253.404.3651,

Tart Hard Cider, Official Keg Tapping, 8-11:59 p.m., Friday, June 30, $5, Odd Otter Brewery, 716 Pacific Ave., 253.327.1680,

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