Log Lunch with Kat Hand: Berkshire Cider Project: A Berkshire B-Corp Building a Cidery, One Apple at a Time

On a sunny Friday, January 12, the Log Lunch community gathered to eat a delicious meal prepared by the student cooks. Today, the lunch consisted of a spicy tomato soup, pupusas with cheese and green chili, additional pupusas with beans, curtido relish (including purple daikon from Full Well Farm), a Mexican elote salad, and alfajores for dessert. The community also came to hear Kat Hand, co-founder of the Berkshire Cider Project, talkspeak about her experience starting and running a B-Corp Cidery for the last four years. 

Founding the cidery in 2019 with her husband, Matt Brogan, Hand comes from a business and communications background. She spoke to the audience about her previous career work in nonprofit grant writing, marketing, entrepreneurship, and consulting, including roles at HP. She enjoyed the career path that she was originally on, but said that it “seemed like the right time” to start a business in 2019. It was, however, a leap of faith. With their interest in cider making starting from a purchased kit for their Brooklyn home, Kat and her husband expanded their operations significantly once they switched to running their own cidery. The cider making process, Kat explained, is quite seasonal. Fall includes collecting apples and juice from various sources around the Berkshires. The bitter apples that are ideal for cider making are still hard to come by on the East Coast, so Berkshire Cider Project imports some juice from the UK. The juice is then fermented and aged in a process similar to wine over the winter months, with minimal intervention, and the final product is ready every spring. Kat primarily serves Berkshire Cider as the business manager, but is still involved in decisions around the actual process of cider making due to the small size of the company. 

Being a B-Corp, Berkshire Cider Project has a commitment to social and environmental responsibility. Kat explained that the B-Corp certification system includes an amendment to a company’s articles of incorporation, extensive transparency, and a score based off of five metrics: governance, workers, community, environment, and customers. Improvements to any of these aspects of the company will improve their independently-certified score. As one of two B-Corps in Berkshire County, Berkshire Cider Project’s vision of sustainability goes beyond reducing their carbon footprint. From local sourcing to labor practices to equity and inclusion, Kat and Berkshire Cider’s goals for sustainability are integrated into the company’s founding principles and operations.

In the future, Berkshire Cider Project hopes to open their own location separate from the Greylock Works space in order to further their aims of running a sustainable cidery in Northern Berkshire.