Derrick Cannon first found success as a trainer, packing classes and events at his Airport Road gym, Distinct Fitness. He liked the word distinct for its definition: physically separate and like no other.
In 2018, Cannon opened Distinct Cider as a six-stool bar in a corner of the gym for a post work-out cider. Cannon had sought out beer alternatives that were also low in sugar and stumbled into the world of craft cider. His audience embraced it, and soon Distinct Cider needed more space for a community of like-minded drinkers.
Two taps quickly turned into four, and Cannon was off to the races. Two years later, Distinct pours seven taps of alternating regional ciders with an additional cooler game of 40 label offerings. “There are so many ciders we can’t get our hands on . . . yet,” Cannon says. “And, then there’s ginger beer, mead, and the craft beers that complement cider. No one was pouring cider, and I’ve always been someone who wanted to do what others weren’t.”
Cannon has been known to drive hours to bring a keg back for the taps at Distinct. It’s considered self-distribution, fully legal in South Carolina as cider falls under the same guidelines as locally produced wine. He first discovered Windy Hill Cidery in York, South Carolina, and subsequently visited every producer he could find in the western Carolinas. The taproom celebrated its second anniversary at the beginning of March. “We had just built another bar to create even more space, and the following week everything shut down,” says Cannon. “We were growing the way a business should, and COVID put the brakes on that. It’s the hardest thing we’ve faced for sure.”
Cannon and his wife, Heather, shuttered the gym and resorted to to-go orders. Regulars rallied around them, picking up orders until they could safely reopen. Social media also brought visibility to Black-owned businesses, including Distinct. “People got to discover us that didn’t know we were here, and I kinda like that,” says Cannon, “but we’re looking forward to the day we can open to the masses and pour a ton of cider.”
Photography by Paul Mehaffey. Distinct Cider Room, 601 Airport Rd, Greenville. distinctciderroom.weebly.com