Monday, June 3, 2013

I Wrote About Lucky Duck Cider for 3000melbourne Magazine

I've posted the text below, since that image is obviously impossible to read. Melburnians (that's correct) can find the magazine in one of many cafes, bars or stores in the CBD. It's free! I also interviewed actress Idina Menzel for the same issue, which was awesome.

Lucky Duck Cider: Proudly Made in Melbourne

Just over two years ago, Melbourne natives Shane Capron and Colby Kitchin were just a couple of people who shared a love for cider. Then, an idea collided with an entrepreneurial spirit on a rainy night, and now the two are the creators of their own product: Lucky Duck Cider. 

Lucky Duck, now quickly gaining popularity after just over a year on shelves, started only as a pipe dream. “We were just in the city one night drinking a couple of ciders, having a chat and I said ‘you know, I have a really good feeling that cider is going to take off in Australia pretty soon,’” Capron said. “’Why don’t we have a go at starting a cider company?’” 

It didn’t go much further than the idea, however, until Capron and Kitchin found themselves at a wine tasting course one evening and luck struck for the first time. The two became acquainted with a winemaker who became their consultant, and began delving quickly into the process of picking the right ingredients. “You literally get your hands on different sorts of apples and yeast because genuine cider is really pure,” Capron said. “You can only use water, sugar, apple juice and yeast. It’s not about what you add to the formula, but the types of quality of the ingredients you use.” 

From there, Lucky Duck was born. Capron and Kitchin tested apples and yeasts for about a year until their final product was developed and brewed in a northern Melbourne suburb. They chose the Braeburn apple for its sweet yet tart flavor, and an ale yeast to emanate the Irish type cider they both prefer. Just two weeks after packaging their first batch in 2012, Lucky Duck took home its first pair of awards at the Microbreweries Showcase in Federation Square: Best Cider, and Best Cider Producer. They took the same awards again in 2013. 

These awards have reinforced Capron and Kitchin’s confidence and determination to really make something of their brand. The couple was only able to taste the cider before carbonation before choosing the perfect brew, packaging and going to sale, which could only instill in them an overwhelming feeling of risk. 

“We were sort of like ‘OK, we’re about to invest in this crazy business that we know nothing about,’” Capron said. “We don’t know if anyone is going to like it and we haven’t even tasted the product carbonated yet, so I hope this goes well.” 

The risk paid off. Lucky Duck has now taken Melbourne’s cider scene by storm, and Capron and Kitchin are proud of it. “Our bottles say ‘Proudly made in Melbourne,’ and we hoped that Melbourne would support that,” Capron said. “We had a feeling that they would, and so far, a lot of bars and clubs have. I think the people going out drinking are shifting towards supporting the little brand and the little product with a story.” 

The brand’s guerilla marketing tactics have certainly not hurt. When faced with local competitors with large marketing budgets, Capron decided to take things into his own hands, at none other than the most recent Tour de France. While in the country for a friend’s wedding, luck struck again as the Tour was scheduled to go through a nearby town at just the right time. Dressed in a white bodysuit painted with the Lucky Duck logo and a last minute found duck head, Capron ran with the bikers and hit newsreels hard. 

“It was awesome because within minutes, my brother was texting me that he was watching it in Melbourne,” Capron said. “And then SBS put it in their highlights reel so that it kept showing over the next week or so.” 

With such quick success, the duo is now faced with giving up some responsibilities to help the brand grow. While they used to do everything including brewing, sales, marketing and even delivery out of their Volkswagen Golf, Capron and Kitchin have now brought in some small distributors to help them stock the shelves around Victoria and even NSW. 

“In the long term, our goal is for Lucky Duck to be the biggest independent cider company in Australia,” Capron said. “But the short term its just about trying to make the dream a reality: starting a company and growing it to an extent where it can support us, and hopefully others as well.” 

So it would seem that Lucky Duck has indeed had a bit of luck. Capron and Kitchin went from knowing little about the industry to picking their own flavors and initially pushing the product themselves and have created a product that embodies the culture of the town they both come from. They hope that their product is as accessible as it is local. 

“We’ve tried to price ourselves as competitively as we can because we want to grow it into a product that is accessible for most, not just accessible for those who enjoy paying extra money,” Capron said. “We don’t stop enough to enjoy what we’ve done so far because there’s so much to do. But when we do take a second to reflect it’s amazing. It’s really cool. This experience has sort of broken down the barriers to things that we never thought we could do. Once you’ve done it, you know you can.”


[An edited version of this text was originally published by 3000melbourne Magazine in June, 2013.] 

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