One family’s been making apple cider in West Seneca since before the Civil War.
Every year, Mayer Brothers turns more than 12 million pounds of apples into apple cider, mostly at its West Seneca plant.
That’s the same spot where Jacob Mayer set up shop in 1852. Jacob’s great-great-grandson, Garrett Mayer, is the company’s president.
“I like to say I have cider running through my veins,” said Mayer, who became president of Mayer Brothers about a year ago when his father, John, took on a lesser role with the company.
According to the company, Mayer Brothers has grown to become one of the largest family-owned beverage bottling companies in the Northeast.
A lot has changed in 164 years. The original “rack and cloth” presses have given way to high-volume commercial presses, though Mayer Brothers’ presses still rely on cheese cloth like the early ones did.
The company uses 18 different varieties of apples in its cider. In addition to cider, the company’s products also include bottled water, fruit juices and other beverages. Mayer Brothers produced McKenzie’s Hard Cider at the plant until last month.
The arrival of autumn and the approach of apple season’s peak means the company’s Cider Mill & Bakery is open for business.
Visiting the shop, located at the plant at Transit and Seneca Creek roads, is a fall tradition for many.
Producing apple cider is a year-round affair for the company, which also makes some cider at its facility in Barker, where it also makes juice.
This summer’s warmer, drier weather produced smaller apples and a smaller yield. This year’s batches of cider have ended up sweeter than in years past, Mayer said.