It’s been a big year for Arsenal Cider House. Really, it’s been one big year after another for the cidery, which celebrated its fifth anniversary in June.
Turning your personal residence into your business comes with challenges (time, money and space, to name a few), and Bill and Michelle Larkin keep stepping up to meet them. On a tour of the basement of the Lawrenceville house, the walls are lined with one shining tank after another, where ciders are constantly rotated out to meet Arsenal’s demand. Bill makes sure to show off his beginner equipment: Compared to what he uses now, it looks like children’s toys.
In September, the Larkins held the grand opening for their second location, at Soergel’s Orchards, in Wexford, their source for cider apples. While currently this location is only a tasting house, the Larkins have plans to make scrumpy — a cloudy, unrefined cider — on the premises. This season, they were excited to participate from the frontlines in Soergel’s bevy of festivals, especially the Fall Fest, which wraps up this coming weekend.
Earlier this year, the Larkins also bought a third space, in Penn Hills. This location will be used to expand Arsenal’s production capacity, and maybe to free up a little space in their home. “We’ll have a place for the pool table now!” Bill Larkin says, chuckling. For now, though, they are still working to comply with Penn Hills building codes.
For everyday changes, customers can always look to the ciders themselves: Bill Larkin is constantly trying new recipes. While staples like the popular Fighting Elleck remain on tap, seasonal brews like the Grant’s Flying Pumpkin show up to satisfy the more adventurous drinker. The pumpkin cider, released last week, is cleverly named for the type of shoddy, round-ball ammunition used during the Civil War.
More changes are sure to come as the weather gets colder.