Hard Cider Newsletter


Colorado Cider Company Completes First Expansion - Celebrates 150% Growth!

Colorado state’s pioneering artisan cider maker, Colorado Cider, founded by Brad & Kathe Page, opened its tasting room doors on November 11, 2011.  Brad was one of Colorado’s first microbrewers in the late eighties and is now a trailblazer for hard cider in the state.

Page and his three person staff have now installed four new 2100-gallon tanks and two new 1200-gallon tanks at their Denver cidery. The new tanks triple the company’s annual capacity from 25,000 gallons to 75,000 gallons. This increased capacity will help Colorado Cider meet the growing demand for its small-batch, made-in-Colorado creations. Colorado Cider has also added filtration and packaging equipment to its facility.

“We’ve had a moratorium on draft accounts for a few months now,” says Brad Page. “The expansion enables us to lift that ban and expand our reach in bottles and on draft around the state.”

Since opening his company, Brad Page has worked to enlighten Colorado consumers about hard cider and pave the way for future cider makers in the state. His cidery has helped to define modern cider in Colorado by crafting a mix of traditional creations and inventive, boundary pushing ciders.

Page explained, “Craft cider is where craft beer was in the late Eighties, and we love the new-frontier nature of it. Because it’s so new, we have to educate consumers about it and set a high standard for what we all make - so that the cider culture can flourish in Colorado.”

Along the way, Colorado Cider has found an audience for its ciders and enjoyed hearty growth. In 2012, it produced 10,000 gallons of cider. This year Colorado Cider will boost its annual production by 150% to approximately 25,000 gallons, with 70% of the company’s juice coming from apples sourced in the state.

“We use as much Colorado fruit as we can find and we’re working with Colorado growers to expand the state’s cider-apple agriculture.” Page continued, “What I like about cider is its long connection with local fruit. Unlike beer, hard cider has always been made with locally grown fruit, a fact that traces back through our nation’s and Colorado’s history.”

To help with the shortfall of apples needed, last year the Pages planted 1,000 cider-apple trees on property they own and maintain near Hotchkiss, Colorado. In the future, they plan to plant another 2,000 trees.

For information about Colorado Cider Company, visit them online at ColoradoCider.com.


Featured Cider Company: Frecon’s Cidery

For 65+ years Frecon Farms has been focused on providing Boyertown, PA and the surrounding areas with fresh fruit, produce, and local food items. They have been forever local and continue to offer quality gourmet food products to their customers.  Frecon Farms currently runs a retail store, pick your own operation, farmers markets, annual seasonal events and a craft cidery. Having so much fruit available from the farm and being a huge fan of the craft brewing movement, president Hank Frecon with the help of his brother Steve, longtime friend Jamie Bock and Josh Smith, established Frecon’s Cidery in 2008. By using apples grown on their family orchard established in 1944, the cidery has access to over 25 varieties of new and old world apples as well as cherries, apricots, peaches, nectarines, plums, blueberries, raspberries, pears and pumpkins.

Frecon’s Cidery understands the importance of using a variety of apples for making cider based on their ability to grow in the Pennsylvania climate and the tannic and acidic qualities they have when they’re pressed down to juices. Some of these apples include: Kingston Black, Wickson Crab, Hughes Crab, Harry Masters Jersey, Roxbury Russet and Golden Russet. To get early batches off the ground the team partnered with a local winery, however by 2011, they outgrew the vineyard facilities and decided to build their own facility on the family farm. Frecon’s Cidery is consistently growing and will be doubling their production this year.

Family friend, Jamie Bock is Frecon’s cidermaker and has been crafting cider since the company started in 2008. Bock had been brewing ales and lagers as a hobby for years prior to making cider and gifted his home brews to the Frecon family through the years.  By applying his knowledge and experience along with educating himself on different brewing and fermentation techniques, he was able to combine his love for brewing with the fresh Frecon fruit.

Frecon’s Cidery currently offers three varieties of cider, all of which are gluten-free:

  • The Crabby Granny – a dry cyser. A strong cider blended with lots of traditional crab apples, Granny Smith and Winesap, then balanced with sweet dessert and aromatic apples with a hint of Banana. Tartness up front with wildflower and clover honey to provide a smooth finish. Bottle conditioned for a light effervescence. 10% ABV

  • The Early Man – a light bodied estate cider with a select blend of early maturing heirloom apples, and Mcintosh and Gravenstein apples from their original orchard stock. While still a dry cider, the Early Man is crisp with a light fruitiness that preserves those last remaining notes of summer. 7.5% ABV

  • Hogshead – a balanced New England style cider made with a blend of traditional crab apples, Stayman Winesap and other classic and new cider apples. Fortified with brown sugar and raisins and matured on French and American Oak. 8.5% ABV

This year Crabby Granny was awarded a bronze medal at the Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association’s annual competition and has been known to sell out quickly. Frecon’s Cidery is also currently working on a new/no name cider described as their “dry and sour”. The apples used for this cider will be sitting on the lees for 2 years. 

“It is more of a cider you would enjoy with Christmas dinner than at a bar,” says Hank Frecon.

Frecon’s Cidery is also hoping to add a tasting room in the future.  In the meantime, all three ciders are available for purchase in 22oz bottles and on tap at select locations in Pennsylvania. Please visit http://www.freconfarms.com/ for more information.


New Research Released About Hard Cider Industry

Sundale Research released their work on the hard cider industry to Research And Markets, the world’s leading source for international market research reports and market data, earlier this month. The State of the Industry: Hard Cider in the US (1st Edition) provides reports that are concise, yet detailed studies filled with priceless data, forecasts and objective analysis.

Depending on the topic, State of the Industry reports include historical, current and future sales data, drivers of market growth, consumer data, a summary of the leading companies, distribution channels, foreign trade, and other relevant data and analysis.

Contents of the research include the following topics:

  • Drivers of Industry Growth

  • Hard Cider Attracting a Wide Customer Base

  • Cider Industry Benefits From Health and Gluten-Free Trends

  • Greener Practices Save Money and Help Boost Demand

  • Significant Market Potential for Organic Cider

  • Hard Cider Sales Trends

  • Per Capita Consumption

  • Distribution Trends and Top Brands

  • Pricing Trends for Hard Cider and Alcoholic Beverages

  • Economy’s Impact on Hard Cider Sales

  • Social Media a Vital Marketing Tool for Hard Cider Companies

Twelve statistical tables are also available in the research including but not limited to:

  • Dollar and Volume Sales of Hard Cider in the US, 2007-2017

  • Average Price Per Gallon of Hard Cider Sold in the US, 2007-2017

  • Volume Sales of Hard Cider in the US, as a percentage of total beer sales, 2007-2017

  • Per Capita Consumption of Hard Cider in the US, 2007-2017

  • US Producer Price Trends for Hard Cider, 2007-2017

Lastly, there are three graphs to explain the research (listed below):

  • Dollar Sales of Hard Cider in the US, 2007-2017

  • Volume Sales of Hard Cider in the US, 2007-2017

  • Average Price Per Gallon of Hard Cider Sold in the US, 2007-2017

If you would like to order a copy of the research, you can do so online at the Research And Markets website for $149 (for the single-user, electronic word and excel version). For more information on the report, visit ResearchAndMarkets.com or call 1-800-526-8630.


Seattle Cider Co. Releases New England Style Seasonal

Seattle Cider Company, Seattle’s first and only cidery since Prohibition, is excited to announce the release of its second seasonal cider. Available in 22-ounce bottles now through February, Seattle Cider’s New England style offers a unique flavor profile, fermented with brown sugar and raisins, and 9.5% ABV. The pre-Prohibition style cider joins the growing cidery’s two year round ciders – Dry and Semi-Sweet, available in 16-ounce cans – on shelves and on draft throughout Washington state and Alaska.

“With cool temps and holidays upon us, this powerful cider offers flavors and an ABV sure to keep bodies warm and spirits high,” said Founder and Head Cidermaker Joel VandenBrink, also known for his role as Founder and Head Brewer at Two Beers Brewing Co. “Our first seasonal, a Pumpkin Spice cider, was an overwhelming hit and we anticipate the New England style to be no different. It’s been exciting to see the quick growth and support for both Seattle Cider and the cider industry as a whole.”

A semi-dry cider, Seattle Cider’s New England style cider harkens back to the days of covered wagons and pioneers. Mahogany in color and fermented with a unique combination of brown sugar and raisins, it offers notes of vanilla, oak and a clean toast, making it perfect for cold winters and taking on the hazardous new world. With a 9.5% ABV and just 1.2 Brix, this robust cider is still dryer than most ciders found on the market today. As with Seattle Cider’s other products, New England is naturally gluten-free and made from a custom blend of fresh pressed, Washington apples with all natural ingredients. The apples include Granny Smith, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Gala.

Pick up 22-ounce bottles at specialty bottle shops and grocery stores throughout Seattle, including Beer Junction, Chuck’s 85th and Whole Foods. Expansion to Oregon and Michigan is expected for January. For a full list of locations, visit SeattleCiderCompany.com (subject to change and availability).


Vermont Farm to Plate Publishes Cider, Spirit, Wine and Beer Food System Planning Report

Earlier this month, Vermont published the “Hard Cider, Spirits, and Wine” section of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan, detailing the emerging trends and market development opportunities for Vermont’s cideries, distilleries and wineries. The Farm to Plate Strategic Plan is Vermont’s 10-year food system plan legislatively directed to increase economic development and jobs in Vermont’s food and farm sector and improve access to healthy local food for all Vermonters.

Vermont Farm to Plate also re-published the “Hops and Beer” section of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan.

Both sections of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan can be viewed on the Vermont Farm System Atlas – a comprehensive web portal linking all facets of Vermont’s food system through an interactive mapping interface, including all sections of Vermont’s food system plan and the 300 member organization Farm to Plate Network responsible for implementing the plan.

Despite Vermont’s small size, its breweries, cideries, distilleries and wineries are demonstrating national leadership in fast growing segments of the alcohol beverage industry: craft beer, hard cider, ice cider, craft spirits, and boutique wine. Since the “Hops and Beer” section was originally published in May of this year, the number of Vermont breweries has grown from 27 to 31, with several more currently under development. Vermont now has one brewery for every 20,193 residents. A total economic impact assessment for brewing, distributing, and retailing beer in Vermont estimated a $552 million contribution (Beer Institute, Beer Industry Economic Impact in Vermont, 2012).

As the farm-to-glass movement blooms, Vermont’s cideries, distilleries and wineries are using a growing list of local ingredients, including apples, berries, grains, milk whey, vegetables, maple sap and syrup, honey, and grapes. Unlike Vermont’s craft beer industry, Vermont’s cideries, distilleries and wineries can source from small but local supplies of ingredients. While Vermont’s brewing industry largely relies on out-of-state sources of hops and malt, University of Vermont Extension’s Northwest Crops and Soils Program has provided early stage research support and technical assistance.

Vermont is well-known for apple production and hard cider is an increasingly important value-added product that is winning awards and bringing more dollars by volume for the ‘second-rate’ apples being pressed into crisp bubbly drinks. Woodchuck Hard Cider in Middlebury (VT) is one of the top two hard cider producers in the country and was recently purchased for over $300 million by an Irish company. Vermont’s craft distilled spirits are using numerous local ingredients and gaining international recognition for superior quality – including a gold medal win for Caledonia Spirits Barr Hill Gin at the 2013 Hong Kong International Wine and Spirit Competition.

To read the “Hard Cider, Spirits and Wine” section of the Farm to Plate Strategic Plan please click here and download section 3.3. The reported information includes research on Vermont’s apple farms and the value hard cider brings to the market for apple growers. For example, the section plan cites, “Blemished apples typically bring in $5 per bushel, compared to $28-$52 per bushel for blemish-free eating apples. Blemished apples made into non-alcoholic cider bring the value up to $9 per bushel, and a whopping $135 per bushel when made into hard cider.”


A Harder, Stronger Holiday with TREE Vodka

Looking for a beverage to bring to the holiday table this year? Search no further. Earlier this year, CELK Distilling LLC and Apple Country Spirits announced the birth of TREE Vodka that is the perfect holiday beverage to introduce to friends and family.

Created in an Upstate New York farm distillery, TREE Vodka is a super-premium small batch distilled vodka crafted from fresh, delicious apples. Being one of the very few vodkas in the world created from using 100% all natural, gluten-free, locally grown New York apples, TREE Vodka has a fresh taste that is slightly sweet and a purity that is unmatched by the mass produced, run of the mill, grain based vodkas. It is not apple vodka and, therefore, does not necessarily have an apple flavor but does have an apple nose. You can drink it “neat” on the rocks or as a mixed drink recommended with tonic, cranberry juice or even a splash of fruit-infused balsamic vinegar like fig vinegar.

Chris Carlsson of Spirits Review wrote, “An outstanding vodka for both uniqueness and taste, it makes a great mixer or can even be enjoyed on its own.” Carlsson awarded TREE Vodka as “Spirit of the Month” – the first vodka to win this achievement.

TREE Vodka is made by going through an extensive 24 plate distillation process which creates a product that is incredibly balanced and has unique character. Plus, Apple Country Spirits sources the water they use to proof their products from the local Upstate New York area that is part of the greater Great Lakes Area of the North East, considered one of the world’s greatest resources of clean, fresh water. The apples used for TREE Vodka are also special as they come from DeFisher Fruit Farms which is a 4th generation family-owned fruit farm part of which Apple Country Spirits is a venture of. DeFisher Fruit Farms specializes in growing apples, cherries, pears, peaches and prunes on their over 450 acre farm. The distillers plant their own fruit trees, grow their own apples, press and distill the juice right on the farm. Men’s Journal Reporter, Valerie Ross, wrote that about “60 gallons of apples go into each potent bottle when all is distilled and done” of TREE Vodka.

If you would like to try TREE Vodka you might have to do some searching. It is currently only available at select liquor retailers across New York State for $30. You can also try and buy it at the Apple Country Spirits tasting room located in Williamson (NY). If you do make it to the tasting room though, you definitely won’t be disappointed. The building features hand hewn beams and reclaimed wood from one of the several 100+ year old barns located on the property. The beams and wood were recovered after a heavy wind storm blew the barn down in the spring of 2012. Further, the bar is made from Cherry wood grown and harvested on the farm over the past 20 years.

For more information on TREE Vodka, Apple Country Spirits, and DeFisher Fruit Farms visit them online at AppleCountrySpirits.com. Apple Country Spirits was formed in 2012 by David W. DeFisher, operator of and co-owner of DeFisher Fruit Farms. Photos courtesy of Apple Country Spirits.


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Photo Credit: Jenni Field

Photo Credit: Kelly Carámbula