Successful Newburgh business to take on Mount intern, aid in science courses
March 20, 2017
NEWBURGH, N.Y. -
Kyle Sherrer, founder of Graft Cider
Mount Saint Mary College is proud to announce its START-UP NY
partnership with Graft Cider.
Located at 218 Ann St. in the City of Newburgh, Graft Cider will
enjoy ten years of tax-free operation in New York State.
“We are just now in the beginning stages of our business growth,
but START-UP NY has provided us with the ability to get off the
ground and running much more smoothly,” said Graft Cider founder
Kyle Sheerer. “It has also helped us start to bring in skilled
workers with better wages.”
Graft Cider brews a variety of hard ciders, three or more per
month. The ciders are aged for about eight weeks each and the
cidery currently produces about 5,000 gallons a month.
Since moving into the space in November, Graft Cider is already
selling their products on draft and in cans. The company’s hard
cider can be found in about 300 establishments in the Hudson
Valley, including stores, bars, and restaurants, as well as in
locations in Washington, D.C. and Maryland.
Before founding Graft, Sheerer worked with his father to create
Millstone Cellars in Maryland. Millstone, he explained, makes
high-end, wild yeast-fermented, dry oak barrel aged ciders.
“The goal with [Graft Cider] is to make that style of cider,
which is predominantly enjoyed in Europe, and bring it to the
masses both through a lowered price point and more accessible
packaging – cans,” explained Sherrer.
The START-UP NY initiative at Mount Saint Mary College was
spearheaded by James Raimo, vice president for facilities and
operations, and Michael J. O’Keefe, executive director of
operations and risk management.
Aside from bringing more businesses into Newburgh to improve the
city’s economy, O’Keefe says the program will also enhance the
educational experience for students of the Mount.
“There’s been excellent synergy between the company, the
college, and our academics,” O’Keefe said.
In the fall 2016 semester, the students in assistant biology
professor Evan Merkhofer’s genetics course applied their classroom
knowledge to the real world. Through a technique called DNA
barcoding, which uses short genetic sequences to identify DNA’s
source organism, Merkhofer’s students pinpointed the unknown wild
yeast strains that are being used in fermenting Sheerer’s
“This allowed the students to utilize genetic techniques and
analyze data in tackling an interesting practical question by
pairing with a local small business,” Merkhofer explained.
Additionally, Sherrer says he will hire a summer lab intern
through the Mount. He or she will work on yeast propagation and
isolation to help build up the company’s “house culture” of yeast.
The intern will also analyze microflora in fermented ciders and
work on production aspects of the company.
“We hope through on the job training, [the intern] can pick up
real-world skills that will get them a foothold into the burgeoning
craft beverage industry or potentially a job working at Graft,”
Merkhofer echoed the sentiment: “This will give the student the
opportunity to apply knowledge gained in classes such as
microbiology and chemistry while giving them an experience in the
burgeoning field of fermentation technology.”
Thanks to his partnership with Mount Saint Mary College, Sheerer
says the future of Graft Cider is looking bright.
“The goal is to organically grow the company and open up more
locations for distribution, as well as getting our onsite cider
garden and tasting room up and running,” he explained.