Feds impose sanction on hard cider maker


Kent County is tops in the state for apple production and ninth nationally. ©Thinkstock

The U.S. Department of Agriculture is restricting a hard cider maker in the region from “operating in the produce industry.”

The USDA said Wednesday that it has imposed the sanction on Virtue Cider in Fennville and Greg Hall for failure to pay reparation awards under the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act.

Hall was listed as a sole proprietor of the business.

The move by the USDA is a penalty for the cider maker’s failure to pay a $108,024 award in favor of a New Hampshire seller.

The USDA said the Perishable Agricultural Commodities Act provides “an administrative forum to handle disputes involving produce transactions.”

"We don’t believe it’s much of an issue,” Hall said. “There is no dispute about balance. As a startup, we were somewhat under capitalized. We intend to cover the entire outstanding balance, plus 18 percent annual interest. We are addressing this issue by bringing more capital into the business."

Hall was once a brewmaster at Chicago-based Goose Island Brewing Co. and helped pioneer some of today’s standard craft beer operating procedures.

He started Virtue Cider following the sale of Goose Island Brewing to AB InBev.

Cider maker

Last month, Virtue Cider’s head cider maker, Ryan Burk, left the company for a position at Angry Orchard Cider Co.

"Please raise a glass to toast Ryan at his new gig," Hall wrote on Virtue Cider’s Facebook page on March 9. "I'm very proud of him and the job he's done at Virtue. During my time at Goose Island, we had brewers leave for Firestone Walker, Bell's, Revolution, Half Acre, 5 Rabbit, Penrose, Off Color, Perennial, Fremont, Miller, Lagunitas and many others. I am very proud of all the brewers and cider makers I've had the pleasure to work with, cheers to all."

Angry Orchard Cider Co. said last week that it has named Burk the head cider maker at a new facility in upstate New York.

Angry Orchard Cider Co. is owned by Boston Beer Co., the owner of Samuel Adams.  

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