Jennifer Carleton runs the first and only dedicated hard cider company in the state of Utah, and she chose this industry out of a personal love for the beverage itself. “We were in Ireland and fell in love with hard cider, but we came back and didn’t have a whole lot of options in Utah,” says Carleton. “We saw an opportunity in the market and kind of jumped on it.”
Mountain West Hard Cider is not a mass product—they are a small craft provider specializing in all dry ciders: no extra sugars or added sweeteners here. And while their production methods are common across Europe, Carleton makes sure to keep their process as local as they possibly can. “Part of our goal is to help support local vendors and farmers. Currently, we use apples from Santaquin,” she says.
Carleton is proud to keep this a Utah company and uses every opportunity she can to give back to the community that she believes has given her so much. Mountain West Hard Cider partners with local groups, like the Utah Pride Center, Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance and Green Urban Lunchbox, donating a portion of their proceeds to support those in and around their home.
Carleton is using her creativity to put Mountain West Hard Cider on the map and make it the premier hard cider of the mountain west region.
Q. What’s new?
“We came to market in 500 ml bottles, but most of our clientele are outdoor enthusiasts. So we’re adding cans to our line in two of our products: Ruby and Cottonwood. The ciders will still be available in bottles, but now our clientele can also take cans on the go.”
Q. Biggest challenge?
“Ingredients to supply. We have a hard time keeping up with demand in the state. Keeping up with demand and the fact that our juice supply is limited. We’re finding creative ways to expand on that and find additional partners and vendors.”
Q. How does your personality influence your business?
“I love a good time out with friends and my husband. I think, in this industry, you really need to be a social networker, which I’ve always been very good at. I’m outgoing. I’m easy to work with. There’s a culture that we’re trying to develop, and I think cultural fit is most important when we’re hiring new candidates or associates.”