Hard Cider Newsletter


Cider Makers Announce Third Annual Washington Cider Week

Have you made your plans for September? The Northwest Cider Association (NWCA) will be holding its third annual Washington Cider Week, a 10-day celebration of craft cider, from September 5-15 with over 75 activities. The celebration kicks off with two Seattle (WA) events, the first on September 5 at Capitol Cider on Capitol Hill, followed by the two-day Northwest Cider Summit at South Lake Union.

Activities for Washington Cider Week include special menu items at restaurants throughout Washington State, large events and trails among other things. Restaurant reservations are strongly encouraged for cider maker dinners and advanced tickets are recommended for those interested in attending the Northwest Cider Summit. For a complete schedule of events co-sponsored by Edible Seattle, visit NWCider.com

Below are a few highlights of various activities:

  • Experience the two-day Northwest Cider Summit festival at South Lake Union’s Discovery Center Park, featuring 110 ciders, 59 of which have never been poured at the Cider Summit before

  • Dine through three and four course prix-fixe cider pairing dinners at the VUDE at South Lake Union and the Gastropod in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood

  • Explore gluten-free menu choices paired with ciders at the Northwest’s newest cider bar, Capitol Cider

  • Discover special ciders on tap at taverns from Yakima to Tacoma to Bellingham, and in the new pub at Whole Foods in Seattle’s Westlake

  • Taste menu items created especially to pair with particular ciders at Café Flora in Madison Park, Prima Bistro on Whidbey Island, and Terra Plata on Capitol Hill

  • Cycle a cider trail through Seattle with stops at pubs along the route, each offering cider samples

  • Complete an educational cider short course conducted by Chris Lehault, cider columnist for SeriousEats.com, at The Pantry at DeLancey in Ballard

  • Follow cider-themed craft cocktail trails, making special appearances at Seattle bars and restaurants like Tavern Law, the Stumbling Goat, and Tilth

  • Enjoy sweet and savory chocolate and cider pairings at Bravehorse in South Lake Union (featuring Theo Chocolates) and the Chocolate Box, near Pike Place Market

  • Gather at casual events planned in the garden at Bottlehouse in Madrona and on the deck at Beveridge Place in West Seattle

Washington is one of six states in the U.S. celebrating a Cider Week this year, joining California, Michigan, New York, Oregon and Virginia. Of Washington’s over 30 cideries, 14 will be participating in Washington Cider Week – many of who have a lot to celebrate. Several regional cideries have won major awards for their traditional dry ciders and perrys and others are welcoming new and unique blends featuring black currants, honey, hops, lavender and quince.

The Northwest Cider Association is a trade organization representing cider producers throughout the Pacific Northwest in Washington, Oregon, Montana and British Columbia. Memberships are also available to individual cider enthusiasts, as well as retail shops, restaurants and beverage distributors. To learn more visit NWCider.com.


Congressmen Introduce CIDER Act

Earlier this month, US Representatives Earl Blumenauer (D-OR) and Chris Collins (R-NY) teamed up to introduce the bipartisan Cider Industry Deserves Equal Regulation Act (CIDER Act). You can read the act in its entirety by visiting H.R. 2921 on Congress.gov.

CIDER Act is a bill that would amend the section of the Internal Revenue Code (26 USC Section 5041) to allow cider makers to produce fermented cider using the natural products available without the possibility of facing increased tax liability. Specifically, the legislation would (1) increase the carbonation level for cider, thereby meeting customer expectations, (2) include pears in the definition of “hard cider,” and (3) align the alcohol-content standard for cider with the natural sugar content of apples.

Under current federal law, for example, the outdated definition of hard cider allows for up to 7-percent alcohol by volume before it is taxed as a wine, and only a certain level of carbonation before it is subject to the champagne tax. The legislative changes made by H.R. 2921 would ensure that ciders are taxed consistently.

“Cider making is sometimes closer to an art than a science,” said Congressman Earl Blumenauer. “As the American apple and pear hard cider industry becomes more prominent on the world stage and cider becomes a beverage choice for more Americans’ developing palettes, we need to ensure that cideries have every opportunity to expand and meet the needs of this growing market without an unfair tax burden.”

“I am proud to introduce legislation that will support our nation’s apple growers and cider makers,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “This bill will help spur growth in the American apple industry by allowing it to be more competitive on an international level, and I thank Representative Blumenauer for joining me in this goal.”

The United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) supports the efforts of Congressmen Blumenauer and Collins and believes the provisions of this legislation will update the tax law to reflect the realities in today’s cider marketplace. These changes will help strengthen the cider industry so it can be more competitive in international markets, grow and create more jobs in the United States.  The USACM is hopeful that a Senate companion bill will be introduced soon, and that this legislative change will be made part of tax legislation that is considered by Congress.

“We are extremely excited to be working with Congressmen Blumenauer and Collins on this very important legislation for the [cider] industry, and are deeply appreciative of their leadership on this matter,” said Mike Beck, President of the USACM. “Our industry has tripled in size since 2006 and the existing tax structure is insufficient to deal with this growth. As a result, the potential to stunt this surge exists, and HR 2921 will remedy this problem.”

Associations like the USACM will be utilizing the grassroots power of their membership in an effort to garner support for CIDER Act. You can help increase support for this legislation by reaching out to your federal officials and asking them to “cosponsor” this legislation.  You can let them know why the legislation will help the local economy through increased commerce, creation of jobs and the enhancement of the tax base. 

The USACM is happy to provide you with a draft email you can send to your Representative. You can determine your Representative by going to House.gov and typing in your zip code in the upper right hand corner of the website.  Email is an easy and fast way to communicate your views to your elected officials.  If you are interested in assisting the USACM, please e-mail cideract@ciderassociation.org for draft language. 


A Seasonal Change Brings in New Ciders

As cider continues to explode in popularity, consumers are constantly being introduced to new brands, flavors and styles. This month, we’re introduced to new seasonal flavors from Angry Orchard and Tieton Cider Works…

Inspired by the sense of exploration as well as the spicy kick of cinnamon, the cider makers at Angry Orchard crafted a new innovative fall and winter seasonal cider – Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple. This cider imparts a sweet, slightly tart apple flavor balanced with the aroma of cinnamon spice, adding hints of cocoa and a slight heat, all balanced by a dry and warm finish. It is refreshing and smooth yet warming to complement the colder months ahead. The spicy flavor profile of Cinnful Apple also pairs exceptionally well with holiday drinking occasions and a variety of food including barbeque, creamy macaroni and cheese, butternut squash soup, ham, chili, pumpkin pie or ginger ice cream.

Cinnful Apple, a limited seasonal release, is Angry Orchard’s first cider made with American culinary apples. Certain regions within the United States, such as the Pacific Northwest and foothills of the Northeast, share characteristics with the apple growing regions of France and Italy in their rich soil and ample sunshine. The cider makers at Angry Orchard found that the sweet, juicy profile of apples from Washington state complemented the spicy heat of cinnamon, to create a unique and balanced flavor profile for the 5.0% ABV Cinnful Apple.

Utilizing Washington grown apples as well, Tieton Cider Works has crafted their new fall seasonal release that will hit shelves this week – Smoked Pumpkin Cider. This cider is the result of months of playful exploration with fall flavors by Tieton Cider Works cider maker Marcus Robert.

“Washington State farmers grow an extraordinary variety of crops. We wanted to produce a cider that not only would be synonymous with the fall season but also remains true to our local farmers, “ said Robert. “Pumpkin seemed a natural fit, plus it pairs surprisingly well with the tartness of apples. But as pumpkin flavored foods and beverages may be a bit stereotypical, we thought to add another interesting layer, and we came up with a process that introduces smoke directly into the cider. To stay true to our cider, we use apple wood, which produces a sweet, rounded smoke. Overall, this cider is big on mouth feel, with a fresh pumpkin palate, and lingers with just a touch of smoke.”

Smoked Pumpkin is made with organically grown dessert apples from Harmony Orchards (WA), is naturally gluten-free and has a 6.9% ABV and 3% residual sugars. The complexity of the smoke and earthiness of the pumpkin are the first flavors to emerge, followed by the bright acid of the cider pairing welling with sausages, barbeque chicken, pulled pork, a BLT, or a soup with bitter greens and squash.

Tieton Cider Works Smoked Pumpkin will be available in-store in seven states – Washington, Oregon, Idaho, California, Alaska, Illinois, and Texas. Unfortunately, since it is a limited release, it will not be available to order online but if you are a Tieton Cider Works Cider Club Member, you will receive a bottle in your September box.


Featured Cider Company: Bull Run Cider

It’s a two man team that keeps Bull Run Cider up and running, and continually growing. Since the company was licensed in 2012 their ciders have won awards and their operations have expanded.

Business partners Peter Mulligan, who has a background in operations management, distribution, manufacturing and logistics, and Galen Williams, with a background in molecular biology and medical research, established the company in 2009 when Mulligan learned some information about hard cider and reached out to Williams to attend the 1st Annual Portland Fermentation Festival in Oregon. Together, they found an interest in cider and began making the beverage out of Mulligan’s garage. They learned the process of making cider on their own through homebrewing and experimentation. Williams was integral in the beginning stages because his father was a chemist at Olympia Brewing and he had knowledge on balancing acidity and overall science. This knowledge gave Mulligan and Williams a better understanding of blending and what to look for in their yeast trials.

In 2011, the duo began the paperwork for licensing and slowed down their homebrewing to focus on obtaining apples that were 100% Oregon fruit, specifically from Hood River. This was a bit difficult, as it is for many cider makers, because there are simply not enough apples suitable for cidermaking like bittersweets. Eventually, Mulligan and Williams leased land and started grafting apples. To date, they have grafted 3,100 trees that will bear 60 different apple varieties and 10 pear varieties (for perries). In time, their hope is to expand their 8-acre orchard to 16-acres where they can graft fruit that they will use themselves and sell fruit that other cideries can use as well. This aspect of providing fruit to other cideries in the future is important to Bull Run Cider because five cideries have opened in the last eight months alone in the Hood River area of Oregon.

“What we’re trying to do is be a resource not only for ourselves, but for other cideries,” Mulligan told Kari Bray of The Oregonian.

In September of 2012, Bull Run Cider received their license to make cider. Mulligan and Williams purchased a press and two bins of apples (over 1,600 pounds) which would eventually lead to three ciders and one pear ice wine including:

  • Powerhouse Dry – This cider melds the best properties of aromatic heirloom apples with those of traditional bittersweet and bittersharp cider apples to provide a crisp, dry and balanced cider that has an ABV of 7.4%. The apples used in this cider are grown within 100 miles of the Bull Run Cidery.

  • Bramble Berry – Made with a selection of summer ripening apples, infused with a blend of locally grown Marion, Black and Boysenberries, this cider is rich in color, dry, and full of berry flavor and aroma with a 6.8% ABV.

  • Gravenstein Single Varietal – This cider is made from handpicked Gravenstein varietal apples and fermented in small batches for a medium-dry cider that is crisp and clean with a 5.8% ABV.

  • Pear Dessert Wine – Featuring organic pears, grown in Hood River, harvested at the peak of ripeness, this cider has a flurry of pear taste and aroma that is a sweet and delectable treat with 12.0% ABV.

All Bull Run Ciders are vegan and completely gluten-free made with sustainable practices. If you’re looking to try some Bull Run Cider, you can purchase it in the Portland (OR) area or on MadeInOregon.com (just search “Bull Run”). However, Mulligan and Williams are currently partnering with a distributor that will make their ciders more available in Oregon and Washington in the near future.

Mulligan continued to The Oregonian, “Our goal is to get very established in Oregon before we move to Washington. It’s part of our localvore mentality.”

The goal is to double in fermentation (possibly triple) by the end of the year before distribution increases. This goal may sound lofty but Mulligan and Williams have already signed a contract with a winery that will ferment and brew cider so they can increase their capacity. Currently, they produce 100 cases every three days, which is a big difference from the 10 cases they used to produce a week with their original homebrew corny-keg and refrigeration method.

Bull Run Cider’s future is bright! Within the last year, Mulligan and Williams have produced cider, they have already won a “bronze medal” in the New World Cider Category at the Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition (2013) and a “gold medal” in the Common Dry Cider Category at the Portland International Cider Competition (2013). Furthermore, they have added the help of Shaun Shepherd, who sits on the board of the Home Orchard Society and comes with over 15 years of experience, to mentor them on future cidermaking and business building.

For more information on Bull Run Cider, you can visit them online at BullRunCider.com. All photos courtesy of Bull Run Cider.


First-Ever Philadelphia Hard Cider Festival Debuts September 28th

Philadelphia’s very first hard cider festival, Pour The Core, will be coming to the city on September 28th at the Philadelphia Navy Yard Parade Grounds located at 4747 South Broad Street (Philadelphia, PA).

More Americans are quenching their thirst with hard cider than in the recent past. While cider sales in the U.S. are on the rise, the making and selling of cider is anything but new.  Beer manufacturers have largely ignored the U.S. cider/perry category as sales have historically been less than a fraction of a percentage of those of beer. Today, this once-sleepy alcohol category is enjoying a remarkable renaissance driven by both breweries and wineries taking advantage of the fast-growing interest and appeal.  Hard cider producers are also securing a fast-growing fan base among those who are unable to enjoy beer due to their intolerance to gluten. 

Pour the Core: A Hard Cider Festival was first tested in the New York market last summer with great success.  “With the strong craft beer culture in Philly, this was a logical next step for launching and building the Pour the Core festival brand,” said Andy Calimano, owner of event production company Starfish Junction.  “We’ve hosted several sold out craft beer shows at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, and we are thrilled to be returning with a new show concept that addresses the recent revival of hard cider popularity and the soaring sales of the remarkable beverage,” added Calimano.

Pour The Core: Philly will showcase the finest U.S.-produced and internationally-sourced ciders—more than 30 in all.  Among the featured brands at the festival will be hard ciders from Vermont Hard Cider Co. (makers of Woodchuck Hard Cider), McKenzie’s Hard Cider, Strongbow, Original Sin, Ace Cider, Doc’s Draft Hard Ciders, Spire Mountain Draft Cider, Angry Orchard and Anthem Cider among others.  "Woodchuck is the tasting glass sponsor, Strongbow will be hosting a special mixology tent for demos and instruction, and Rex Goliath wines is the programming sponsor.  Out of the gate, the response from the cidermakers and local distributors has been incredible.  Attendees are going to have a fantastic day learning about and sampling ciders,” said Calimano.

The event will take place outdoors, under tents, on the beautiful Parade Grounds of the Philadelphia Navy Yard from 1:00PM-4:00PM, rain or shine.  Food will be available for sale from select members of the Philadelphia Mobile Food Association (PMFA).  There will also be music and special seminars about cider including “Building an Estate Cidery” by Hank Frecon of Frecon’s Cidery and “The Making of Cider” by Adam Redding of Good Intent Cider – more to be announced.  

A limited number of tickets will be sold.  Once the event sells out, no additional tickets will be available for purchase.  Tickets are $40 each when purchased in advance on the event website, PourTheCore.com.  If tickets are still available on event day, they can be purchased at the door for $65. Designated driver tickets are also available for $10.  Tickets include admission to the festival, participation in special programming, a souvenir tasting glass, and the freedom to enjoy samples from participating cideries. No one under 21, including designated drivers, will be admitted and photo ID is required for entry. 

The 2nd Annual Pour The Core: Long Island will be hosted at Peconic Bay Winery in Cutchogue, NY on October 5th.


Wölffer Estate Vineyard Makes a Sparkling Entrance Into The Cider Market

Wölffer Estate Vineyard has entered the lucrative hard cider market with two unique products – the Wölffer No. 139 Dry White Cider and the Wölffer No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider both made from a selection of apples grown by the Halseys of White Cap Farm in Bridgehampton, NY.

These ciders represent the creative brand/product leadership of co-owner Joey Wölffer and the new innovative synergy she and her brother, co-owner Mark Wölffer, plan to infuse with the legacy of traditions at Wölffer Estate Vineyard.

Roman Roth, Winemaker & Partner stated, “I am extremely proud of the high quality and purity of our sparkling hard ciders. They establish a new niche in the ever growing cider market. Our ciders are not made from concentrates and have no artificial flavorings. The finest New York apples from Halsey Farm are fermented and transformed into pure, elegant and the most stylish sparkling ciders you have ever tasted.”

Both varietals of Wölffer No. 139 are sparkling. The Dry White Cider has a pale yellow color and is dryer than the Rosé. The Dry Rosé has a pale pink hue, slightly sweeter and is distinguished by the extract from grape skins. Both ciders have a beautiful perfume of fresh crisp apples with hints of honeysuckle, strawberries and fine yeast aromas.

The labels and four-pack carrier reflect the bohemian spirit that resides in many people during the Hampton summers. In cool summer tones the labels are two collages of seasonal beach memories. The four-pack carriers designed in color tones of washed blues, pinks with touches of black make a statement that is whimsical, bold and spirited.

Best served chilled the Rosé and White Wölffer No. 139 are wonderful thirst quenchers and great companions to a wide variety of appetizers, antipasti, barbeque, cheese platters and even fruit pies.

The Wölffer No. 139 Dry White and Dry Rosé can be found at stores in New York, at the Wölffer winery tasting room and wine stand, and online at Wolffer.com or WolfferCider.com. Photos courtesy of Wölffer Estate Vineyard.


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Credit: Jill of Salivate

Credit: Sasaki Time