Lincoln’s Green Flash Brewhouse & Eatery, at 1630 P St. in Lincoln, is part of Green Flash Brewing, located in San Diego. Green Flash is a brewery that brews beer, a consumable that consists of hops and different grains.
Saro Cider, 1746 N St., is a Lincoln cidery that ferments apple juice to produce a variety of alcoholic refreshments.
Beer is not cider. Cider is not beer. The two are not to be confused or compared to one another.
The similarities between Green Flash and Saro are that they are both located in Lincoln, each opened their facilities in 2018, and both produce most tasty indulgences.
Green Flash general manager Jeff Willett said that the brewery – located at the former Ploughshare Brewing site – did some cleaning and simplified remodeling before opening in June 2018. That included new tables and stools, adding large-screen televisions, changing the lighting fixtures, putting brick behind the bar and – the most involved – doubling the size of the existing kitchen and adding a stove and oven. All helped accomplish a welcoming atmosphere.
The actual brewing facility was one area where little was needed to be done. According to Willett, the brewery was “fantastic … state-of-the-art,” and one of the reasons Green Flash national was interested in expanding into the Lincoln area.
About three blocks southeast of Green Flash, the Saro Cider facility sports an ambiance of relaxing freshness. Its taproom is small, but it works with the establishment of simplicity and tranquility to the area.
Matt Wood, Tracy Sanford, Eric Leyden, Jonathan Henning and Paige Duncan – co-owners of Saro – are each involved in varying capacities at Saro.
Sanford explained that each of the owners has done a good amount of traveling, and that the enjoyment of the journey – the live experience of growth, discovery and learning – is what they hope Saro brings to its customers.
“An exposure to what cider can be,” she said. Inspiration for the ciders they produce “have been drawn from our different travels,” Sandord said. “Our experiences produce thoughts about flavors. Each of our ciders’ names are generated by different locales.”
As for the name Saro, it is explained that it was inspired by an early 1950s British airplane manufacturer.
“The Saro Princess was a luxury flying boat – an amphibious airliner flying between England and the United States.” According to Wood. “Its land-to-sea versatility was representative of the diversity of the ciders Saro produces.”
Wood, who is gluten-intolerant and can’t drink beer, started fermenting cider at home. Henning grew apple trees. The pair ended up attending a cider workshop, with the result being the concept of a Lincoln cidery. Their wives – Sanford and Duncan – joined in, with the establishment opening in the fall of 2018.
Leyden, whose background was as a chef including at the Nebraska Club and Mullen’s Sand Hills Golf Club, was first consulted about a food plan for the establishment. “It started small, but transitioned into more involvement over time,” he said as his interest in cider grew.
Saro’s owners basically consider the cidery a distributor of cider rather than just a bar. The taproom was added with the idea of having a venue to familiarize people with cider and what can be done to create different tasting products. The cidery will begin its bottling phase this summer.
Back at Green Flash, Willett said the Lincoln establishment brews all of the same Green Flash front-line popular styles that San Diego brews, as well as special brewings just for the Lincoln site.
Green Flash brews are the only beers offered on the brewery’s 12 taps, with staggered weekly changes, according to Willett. The most popular national choices are the Passion Fruit Kicker and the West Coast IPA. Willett said that there hasn’t been enough time to determine customers’ local brew favorite.
Among the recent local brews available at Green Flash have been the brewery’s Git Wit It (Belgian-style wheat ale with apricot), Pedal Stroke (single hop pale ale), Darvaza (nitro red ale) and Touch of Green (IPA).
The Green Flash taproom only offers Green Flash beer; no spirits or wine.
Green Flash distributes to Lincoln and Omaha bars with off-sale available at The Still and N-Street Liquor. Willett said he hopes to branch out to the Western part of the state with distribution.
Green Flash takes pride in its food offerings. “We’ve kept the menu small, but well executed,” Willett said. About 80 percent of its food is sourced from within the region, and food sales amount to 60-65 percent of its business.
Eight appetizers are on the Green Flash menu ranging from fries ($7) and Pork Belly Sliders ($10) to Wings ($12). There are four soup and salad choices ($8-$12); eight sandwiches (grilled cheese, $10, to southern fried chicken, $13); three entrees (short rib ragu, $16, or steak and potatoes or pork chop, $18 each).
Willett said the most popular items on the menu are the pear toast (crostini, garlic chive and lemon chevre, Asian pear, honey, bee pollen, crushed pistachios, $8) and brussel sprouts (bacon, parsnip puree, radish sprouts, balsamic date dressing, $11), both from the appetizer menu.
Eight ciders are on tap at Saro, as well as two beer choices and a non-alcoholic cider. Cocktails and drams are also available.
Wood said that including the beer and spirits reflects Saro’s desire to be aware of the individual who is unfamiliar with cider and to have something for them to order and enjoy. Leyden added that Saro wants every guest to have a pleasant experience.
The ciders on tap at Saro also fluctuate, but generally there are a constant of five or six regular choices. Ranging from $5.50 to $8, Saro standbys on tap include Riva Rose (sweetest cider, with raspberries), Ardennes (subtle complexities of coriander, lemon, ginger and orange), Valencia (slightly dry, slightly tart, notes of citrus), Zamora (fresh jalapeno and apple flavors, mild heat), Bogota (coffee, creamy, bittersweet) and 2Whiskey (aged in whiskey oak barrels).
Numerous Lincoln bars and taprooms offer Saro ciders.
While Saro does not have a kitchen for food preparation, its menu offers a different approach, with Leyden pointing to the establishment’s adage: “Food substantial enough to feed, but not fill.”
Saro’s four culinary choices include Pois au Vadouvan (smashed chickpea and vegetables with curry spices and crackers, $4.50), Soleil (mild green Castelvatrano olives, salted almonds and sundried apricots, $6), Charcuterie (sliced Rosemary ham, Provence style Saucisson and warm duck rillette, with mustard, pickled cornichons and crackers, $11) and Fromage (three cheeses: triple cream brie, olive oil cabecou and Prairie Breeze white cheddar, with roasted cashews, quince jam and crackers, $11).
Green Flash experiences a small to moderate college crowd with the majority of its customer base being young to middle-age professionals. Saro’s demographic runs a pretty broad range from 30s to the 50s.
Sanford remarked that Saro has enjoyed the support of many local brewers who have frequented the cidery. At Green Flash, Willett echos the feeling of camaraderie, saying that the craft beer community behaves like a big family.
The Green Flash brand and its national recognition, along with the brewery’s unique flavors combined with the Lincoln establishment’s fresh and knowledgeable staff, result in what makes the brewery and taproom special, says Willett.
It is the people – from the Saro staff to its patrons – who are making the cidery special, according to Leyden. “We are all taking a chance. From those who work here at Saro to the customers who come in and take a chance with their money to try something new that they haven’t tried before. We are all on a sharing journey throughout.”