Featured Cider Company: Tieton Cider Works
Tieton Cider Works grew out of an idea that would bring added value to Harmony Orchards, the farm of Craig and Sharon Campbell. Craig, a trained horticulturist with a degree from Washington State University and a third generation Yakima Valley (Washington) grower, had been organically farming 350 acres in three locations of the valley for over 30 years. Craig’s grandfather began planting the land that Craig farms today before the water even came to their part of valley in the late 1920’s.
Originally, when cider was first thought of the Campbells weren’t sure but with it not experiencing any resistance it became that extra something to add to the farm that they were looking for. In 2008, they planted their first cider fruit and today they grow multiple varieties of cider apples on 48 acres of their farm dedicated to cider specific fruit and another six acres dedicated to perry specific pears. Craig is the largest grower of cider fruit in Washington State! Perhaps this is because the farm is located in the heart of apple-growing country in Washington State where the Yakima Valley has a premier infrastructure built in it for the apple industry to thrive... Or, because Harmony Orchards is perched above the confluence of the Tieton and Naches Rivers at an elevation of 2,000 feet that provides them the advantage of growing their fruit at slightly cooler temperatures…
In 2010, the Campbells hired Marcus Robert, a fourth generation orchardist of Yakima Valley, as their cidermaker who oversees all of the cider production. On a typical day, Marcus and his team press nearly 10-20 tons of fruit using a belt press which equates to about 40 bins of fruit. They also bottle approximately 125-130 cases a day using a two-bottle counter-pressure bottler. The cidery is completely vertically integrated… they grow the apples, press them, ferment the cider, blend the cider and bottle all under one roof.
Marcus’s combination of a blend of bittersharps and bittersweet apples with dessert apples has Tieton Cider Works producing 10 varieties of cider that are distributed nationally in 750mL, 500mL, and 375mL bottles. They also make four of their products available on draft and release several seasonal ciders. As of year-end 2012, Tieton Cider Works produced 30,000 cases compared to 200 cases in 2009!
- Blossom Nectar Cider – a sweet cider with natural tree ripened fruit notes, a crisp sparkle and medium body
- Cherry Cider – a well-balanced apple cider blended with cherry that provides a big mouth feel, perfect acid and long finish
- Apricot Cider – a crisp apple cider infused with the tartness of apricot that has refreshing notes of fresh and dried apricot
- Wild Washington Apple Cider – has a pineapple aroma and a pronounced mineral quality that gives the cider a lively mouth feel with notes of green apples and preserved lemon
- Tieton Blend Cider – a dry crisp cider with perfectly balanced citrus notes, hints of green grape skin, nectarine pith and a lingering pepper quality
- Yakima Valley Dry Hopped Cider – a cider mixed with a blend of hops that produces an aroma of fruit-forward nuttiness followed by a citrusy palate
- Harmony Reserve Cider – a limited edition reserve that is blended from selected barrels of Yalington Mill and Golden Russet providing a pleasing apple aroma with hints of lemon and hazelnut with pomegranate
- Precipice Perry Pear Cider – akin to a champagne, dry and brilliant, that finishes with a bit of citrus and strawberry notes
- Tieton Frost Cider – autumn harvest blend of Jonagold, Pinova and Winter Banana apples that is expressive and floral with a pleasing sweetness
- Tieton Wind Cider - blend of slowly fermenting artisanal ciders aged in freshly emptied bourbon barrels that provides hints of charred oak, vanilla and late harvest apples on the palate
Tieton’s extensive cider list has won them numerous awards demonstrating how well liked their ciders are. Just this year alone, the Apricot Cider won a gold medal at the Denver International Wine Competition and a silver medal in the fruit category at the Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition. The Wild Washington Apple Cider won a silver medal at the Denver International Wine Competition and a bronze in the English cider category at the Great International Beer & Cider Competition. The Precipice Perry Pear Cider won a gold medal in the traditional perry category at the Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition. And, the Tieton Frost Cider won a bronze medal at the Denver International Wine Competition!
For more information or to get a bottle of Tieton Cider, please visit TietonCiderWorks.com. All photos in this story are courtesy of Tieton Cider Works.
Crispin “Prepare To Die” and Fox Barrel “As You Wish”
Heading to Drafts in Limited Release
By taking inspiration from cult classic The Princess Bride, Crispin Cider Company has released two new daring, complex, romantic, and truly adventurous ciders. Crispin's “Prepare To Die” is a dangerous, rapier of an apple cider aged in red wine barrels and finished with Killer Bee honey and organic blood oranges. Meanwhile, Fox Barrel's “As You Wish” is a sublime pear cider aged in Chardonnay barrels and finished with Butterbean Honey and vanilla beans. We hope those bees buzzed around to some buttercups to continue the allegory!
Without being aware of what the cider names are referring to it may seem that these two new ciders have very odd, almost macabre, names, but in a sense they tell their own story. Joe Heron, Crispin Founder and CEO explained his cider philosophy by saying, “Who doesn't love a great story? We're only limited by our imagination and our self-restricted sense of adventure, but when you embrace your inner-child, we're only just mostly-dead, and we come to life, with ciders that make us happy, and hopefully also enthrall our drinkers.”
These two magical draught-only ciders will be available in limited release, on allocation only to the creative and adventurous.
“Inconceivable!” says Crispin's Head Cider-Marker, Bruce Nissen. “We traveled the high seas, we fought pirates and dragons, climbed cliffs and scaled mountains. We enlisted a giant called John Enzenauer. And lo, our daring and ingenuity resulted in two gorgeous, adventurous ciders with heart, spirit, and a little romance. I think I may cry, just a little, only because I'm happy.”
Crispin “Prepare To Die”
Poured Appearance: Very slightly cloudy
Color: Blood orange pink with hints of orange
Aroma: Oaky with citrus freshness and authentic crushed apple
Flavor: Slightly oaky tannins up front lead into a balanced presentation of fresh citrus and cidery apples with lingering tartness and a balanced, strong, slightly sweet finish
Fox Barrel “As You Wish”
Poured Appearance: Semi-opaque, slightly cloudy
Color: Medium straw
Aroma:Vanilla notes up front, hints of white wine and oak, very faint Brett farmhouse and florals
Flavor: Hint of Brettanomyces, oak up front moving in to soft pear and honey, with a rounded vanilla and ever so slightly creamy mouth-feel.
Fans can follow Crispin on Facebook and Twitter, download the Crispin Finder app, or visit CrispinCider.com and FoxBarrel.com to track down a taste and find more information.
EcoFarm Conference Features Hard Cider Workshop
Cider has found its way into this year’s 33rd Annual EcoFarm Conference on January 23-26 at the Asilomar Conference Grounds in Pacific Grove, California. The four-day conference focuses on the promotion and development of healthy and just food farming systems, and is the oldest and largest of its kind on the west coast. For the first time, EcoFarm will host a workshop on hard cider entitled, “Hard Cider: Revival of a Lost Art.”
According to EFA Program Coordinator, Liz Birnbaum, “There has been a real movement around craft beers and microbreweries across the US. Hard cider seems to also be gaining traction as a highly sought after refined-taste beverage. Farmers are seeing the market niche open up... We expect this to be a popular workshop this year!"
The workshop is a panel discussion on the art and regulations of making craft cider and healthy management of orchards. Moderated by Zea Sonnabend of Fruitilicous Farms, the panelists include: Tim Bates of The Philo Apple Farm, Jolie Devoto of Devoto Gardens, and Scott Heath of Tilted Shed Ciderworks. Bates has been producing cider for the past twenty-five years; Devoto Gardens produces over fifty varieties of apples in its orchards; and Tilted Shed is a small, family run producer of handcrafted ciders from heirloom apples.
Also scheduled are workshops led by Sandor Ellix Katz, author of The Art of Fermentation and Wild Fermentation, an Exhibitor Marketplace, artisanal food tastings, and live entertainment. For more information on the 33rd EcoFarm Conference, please visit EcoFarm2013.org.
Featured Cider Maker: Scott Heath, Tilted Shed Ciderworks
Scott Heath and his wife, Ellen Cavalli, always knew they wanted to live off the land but early in their careers they didn’t know exactly how they would do it. Heath, a Bay Area (CA) native with a background in fine art began his career in printing. He obtained degrees in printmaking and photography from the University of California at Santa Cruz and New York University, and worked for several years as a master printer at Paulson Bott Press, a fine art intaglio (etching) press in Berkeley, CA. In 2005, Heath began his own company, Fireball Press, and began providing contract printmaking services.
In 2006, Heath and Cavalli bought a very small farm in Dixon, New Mexico, a small village located between Santa Fe and Taos. Together, with the plan of growing produce for market, they began a small-scale organic farm. In their first year, an old, neglected orchard on the property from the previous owners produced a bumper crop of apples. Heath, who had already been making beer, wine, sauerkraut, pickles and other fermented goods from their farm’s produce, decided to make hard cider. He fermented the cider over the winter in the barn and a dry hard cider resulted that wasn’t sweet and cloying like commercial ciders they had before. Heath and Cavalli knew they had something. It wasn’t until the summer of 2009 when they were visiting family in Napa, California, driving past winery after winery, that Heath suddenly said that they should start a cidery. Initially, Cavalli thought it was crazy but that didn’t stop them before.
When they returned to New Mexico, they started extensively researching craft cider – its history, cidermaking traditions, cider apples, legalities to starting a cidery in New Mexico, and they tasted everything they could get their hands on. Heath worked as a harvest intern at a local custom crush/winery services facility, and studied under Peter Mitchell, the UK cider expert, to obtain a certification in cider sensory evaluation.
In 2010, after a decision to move back to California so they were closer to their families in the Bay Area while raising their young son, they bought a dilapidated bungalow on 5+ neglected acres of land outside of Sebastopol, a historic apple-growing town in West Sonoma County. The land was level and fallow and they knew it would make for a perfect cider orchard. In November, they leased a cidery facility in nearby Forestville and founded Tilted Shed Ciderworks - named after a real tilted shed on their farm that was used as an old feed shed and is close to 100 years old.
In January of 2011 they began planting their cider orchard. Heath became cidermaker, orchardist, inventory manager, distributor, graphic designer, and more! A typical day during the harvest, from mid-August to mid-November, he spends picking and hauling apples, pressing, monitoring the fermentations and racking. Cavalli says, “Pressing is a family affair though… My 5-year-old son and I wash, sort and grind the apples while Heath operates the rack-and-cloth press.”
The first pressing during the 2011 harvest yielded a little over 300 gallons but provided Tilted Shed enough cider to release three varieties in August 2012. Each of the ciders consisted of a blend of 100% fresh-pressed Sonoma County organically grown apples…
- Lost Orchard Dry Cider – made from scarce traditional bittersweet and bittersharp apples
- Graviva! Semidry Cider – a blend of organic Gravensteins and other heirloom apples
- January Barbecue Smoked Cider – an experiment of sorts that is a blend of cider and heirloom apples fermented with a few smoked apples
What makes Tilted Shed ciders different from other ciders is apples though. Heath worked very hard to track down old cider orchards in Somona County for traditional tannic cider apples (bittersweets and bittersharps). Heath and Cavalli call these orchards “lost” because they were planted decades ago for hard cidermaking but were abandoned because there was no consumer interest in cider at the time. The combination of tannic cider apples and Heath’s blending of the apples results in Tilted Shed ciders that are unexpectedly complex, dry, tannic, vinous and food-friendly. Tilted Shed ciders are not sweet, ‘appley’ or fizzy beverages. They defy most American expectations of cider. Cavalli says they are “elevating the common apple to greatness.”
If you want to get a bottle of Tilted Shed cider to try it for yourself, you might have to search far and wide though. Since the cidery is only in its infant stages, a very limited amount of cider is produced. In 2012’s harvest, Heath and Cavalli only produced about 1,200 gallons. They attempted to start taking online orders but had to suspend the store because they were about to sell out! The good news is that they are always adding new accounts and continually updating their website for the most up-to-date retail locations. More importantly though, their orchard will eventually consist of two acres of several hundred trees with several dozen cider apple varieties which means more cider to be produced in years to come!
For more information, you can visit TiltedShed.com or call 707-483-5485. They do not have a tasting room.
All photos courtesy of Tilted Shed Ciderworks.
Carling Enters the UK Cider Market
Britain's biggest brewer, Molson Coors, is launching Carling British Cider, its first venture into the ever growing cider market. By launching under the Carling brand trademark, Molson Coors will be able to draw on one of the strongest names in the market to target the eight million drinkers that enjoy both cider and lager. Additionally, the 4.5% ABV modern premium cider is made in the heart of cider making, Herefordshire, UK.
Launching exclusively in the off-trade in March 2013, Carling British Cider will be available in 500mL and 275mL bottles and will be in the new bespoke 'Carling' bottle, equipped with Pressure Sensitive Labels (PSL), designed to reflect a premium, modern look to the time-honored beverage.
Jeremy Gibson, Brand Director of Carling at Molson Coors UK, stated, “Our aim was to make a product that beats the competition on taste and refreshment and Carling British Cider has done just that.” The blend of juicy apples gives Carling British Cider a fantastic golden color and refreshes the drinker to the core, with its crisp taste and just a hint of sweetness. Gibson continued, “The consumer response has been overwhelmingly positive, proof that the time and investment we've made to ensure it is a fantastic product has paid off.”
Besides investing a lot of time into crafting a cider that consumers will enjoy drinking, Molson Coors will also be investing over $7.2 million (£4.5m) into an integrated marketing campaign for Carling British Cider. The campaign will include television advertising that is designed to appeal to a wide demographic of consumers, for a range of occasions. This approach is similar to the strategy used for Carling Zest, a limited edition, seasonal Carling lager that was used as a promotional tool for Carling's rebranding under the position 'Brilliantly British, Brilliantly Refreshing.'
Ice Cider: Cider at Its Purest
Think you’ve tasted cider? You haven’t met real apple flavor until you’ve tried ice cider. It is only about a decade old, originating in Quebec, but ice cider is gaining stride in the Northern U.S. because of its bold, yet intricate celebration of the pure essence of the apple.
The process of making ice cider is somewhat similar to its cousin, ice wine. The apples are harvested and then kept in cold storage until the winter (sometimes the apples are even left on the tree throughout the winter). The cold storage makes the apples shrivel up and produce the sweetest concentrated juice. The apples are then pressed and the unfermented juice is allowed to freeze, and the cold temperature causes the water and juice to separate. The resulting sweet, sugary juice is fermented and eight pounds of apples later, you have one bottle of ice cider.
As evidence of its growing popularity in the U.S., Vermont Ice Cider Association was established to connect artisans committed to producing quality ice cider, and will host an Ice Wine Festival (which will include ice ciders) on February 23. American ice cider makers to look for include: Eden Ice Cider Company, Slyboro Ciderhouse, and Boyden Valley Winery among others. Sip it chilled with dessert or a cheese appetizer and truly discover the complex flavor structure of cider.
- Also Known As: Cidre de glace
- Originated: Quebec, 1990
- Alcohol Content: 8-11% by volume
- Best served: Chilled. Alone or mixed in a cocktail
- Pairs well with: Appetizers such as cheeses, or any dessert, particularly with fruit