As luck would have it, Peat’s Original Cider was just opening its new Cider Social taproom and bowling alley in Stevensville in March 2020 when COVID-19 came along and caused it all to shut down.
Now Cider Social is back, offering family-friendly action and serving the Peat family’s original ciders.
Dan and Leah Peat started the company in July 2017. Dan grew up on a cherry farm in Paw Paw and had been searching for a way to create new revenue streams when the couple decided to investigate cidermaking. They had never tried making cider, but figured they’d learn as they went.
The Peats fine-tuned their cidermaking skills (all the while raising the first two of three baby “Peatlets”) and kicked off with four offerings: “The Huntsman,” their flagship flavor; “The Knave,” a hopped cider; and two Cooper Collection flavors, “Rye Barrel-Aged” and “Bourbon Barrel-Aged.”
They started as distributors only, but soon began searching for a taproom. Driving past an old bowling alley one day, Leah pointed out the retro sign with a giant bowling ball on top and joked, “What if that bowling ball was an apple?” Dan told her that the building was actually for sale. They joined forces with partners and friends Josh and Tiffany Cosner and bought the place.
“We both chuckled because we’re not bowlers and that was NOT the small venue we had in mind, but here we are two years later,” Leah says, adding, “As far as we know, we are the only cider taproom/bowling alley in the U.S., maybe even the world. There are some breweries who have this model, but no cideries.”
Peat’s Cider Social offers a unique collection of ciders, all produced on the family farm in Paw Paw. Peat’s head of production, Eddie Hengesh, uses his background in brewing beer to create original flavor combinations. Some of his hits include a green tea and tangerine cider (“The Crush”); a sumac and annatto cider (“The Forager”); a tart cherry cider (“The Matchmaker”); and a Michigan blueberry cider (“The Aviator”).
The taproom has a rotating list of 10 hard ciders, hard seltzers and cyzers (mead). For guests under 21, there are spirit-free beverages available.
While Peat’s does not have a full kitchen, they do sell local snacks. Guests can bring their own food or order pizza delivered to their bowling lane. A variety of food trucks also visit on weekends.
From fun leagues for non-serious bowlers to arcade games for children, Peat’s has something for everyone, including pets. The patio is dog-friendly, and guests can rent out the patio, party room, taproom and lanes in any combination.
Peat’s partners with local businesses to bring classes to The Social. Its summer plans include a candlemaking class with Wicked Pop Candle Co. and tie-dye and floral arrangement classes.
After a difficult year, they’re committed to supporting other local businesses while bringing business back to their bowling alley and taproom.
“We weren’t able to do many of the things that a lot of bowling alleys rely on — leagues, birthday parties, etc. … because of capacity restrictions,” Leah says. “In fact, our lanes were closed for most of 2020 and just reopened a couple of months ago.
“For us, we’re just so excited to see the potential of what The Social can do when the cider taproom, patio and lanes are all operating at once.”