At Jack’s Hard Cider, we really are one big family. We love for our fans to meet our cider makers and get to know the hard-working sales representatives who help get our refreshing ciders into your hands. Reps like Chris Dayton (Pittsburgh area) and Julie Lawson (Franklin, York and Adams counties) help spread the cider love in our home state of Pennsylvania.
We’ve been distributing in Georgia for awhile now, but we’ve never had a rep with Northeastern roots stationed there. Now we do! Meet Mary MacRae, our Georgia rep. We asked her some questions so you can get to know her a little better:
Where did you grow up?
M.M.: I was born in New York, but my father’s job relocated us to the Atlanta metro area when I was pretty young. I attended Georgia State University and studied political science and real estate.
How did you get involved in the beverage industry?
It all started with beer. I’ve been around it my whole life. My dad was a homebrewer and from a young age, he got me involved. I watched him do all the steps and I would help mill grain or stir the ingredients. I attended homebrew club meetings with him, too, so being around that world was normal for me. Of course, I didn’t drink any of the beer until I was old enough!
While still in college, I started working for an American-focused craft beer and beverage store called Gremlin Growlers. I actually had my first taste of a Jack’s Hard Cider there! From there, I started working on the production side of a very small brewery, Blue Tarp Brewing Company. It was an “all hands on deck” situation. I managed the taproom, did some sales and even helped out with canning. I also got involved with a few women-focused craft beer organizations— Georgia Girls Pint Out and GALS (Georgia Ale & Lager Sirens).
When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I didn’t know what I wanted to do, but I absolutely knew what I didn’t want to do! My dad worked in a big corporate office and was miserable every day. When I went to “Bring Your Child to Work Day” it always seemed so sterile. I knew I didn’t want to work in corporate at a big company. I really like selling a product that makes people happy. I love good food and beverage and I couldn’t be happier right now.
Since you are such a beer fan, when did you have your first taste of hard apple cider, and what were your thoughts about it?
I had an eye-opening experience during a visit to Asheville, NC. It’s pretty much “Beer City, USA.” We ended up sampling some ciders at Noble Cidery. I hadn’t had anything like that before. It was so flavorful and had a real farm-to-glass feel. I figured out that I liked cider that day.
What is your favorite cider and food pairing?
Which cider is your go-to cider, and why?
I love the Dry Hopped. It’s not heavy and perfect on a really hot day. The cider makers at Jack’s are really thoughtful about flavor profiles. They don’t just throw a bunch of apples in the mix. They really put thought into how the apple varieties will pair with the hops so it comes together cohesively.
What’s next for you and the Jack’s brand in Georgia?
I have definite goals. I want to focus on education. I want to continue to educate myself about cider and the cider industry. I want to help educate the retailers on the front lines and the consumers. I want people to taste and understand that cider is more than syrupy sweetness. There is diversity in taste—just like in craft beer, wine and spirits. Just because you didn’t like one cider doesn’t mean that you won’t like another variety of cider. I honestly believe that educating consumers creates customers for life!
Jack’s Hard Cider — Produced from Pennsylvania Apples. Pressed On-Site. Never from Concentrate.
Jack’s Original on ice photo credited to Anna Miron/Six AM Studio