Hard Cider Newsletter


Woodchuck Launches New 'Cellar Series' Hard Cider Line

Woodchuck Hard Cider is launching a new line of ciders crafted from the many cider recipes and test batches tucked away in the back of the cidery cellar.  The Woodchuck Cellar Series will be released across the country, and feature a rotating selection of innovative cider styles every few months.

The first such cider is Woodchuck Cellar Series Dry Hop.  The dry hop technique, by which the fermented cider is strained through a tank of fresh whole cone Cascade hops, infuses the cider with crisp citrus and pine notes.  The smooth apple character of Woodchuck’s signature hard cider balances perfectly against the bitterness of the hops.

“The cellar series is a really exciting project for us,” said Cidermaker John Matson.  “It gives us the opportunity to take some of our most experimental, previously unreleased ciders, and put them in the hands of our fans.  Dry Hop is a great balanced cider and it represents just the tip of the iceberg for the Cellar Series.”

Each cider starts as a blank canvas upon which unique ingredients, yeast strains, and fermentation techniques will serve as the brushstrokes.  Each batch will be produced in extremely limited quantities to allow quick turn over between styles.

The Cellar Series will be pasteurized and featured in a 22oz bottle.  Alcohol by volume (ABV) will vary between 5.5% and 6.9%.  The styles will rotate every few months.  Dry Hop, (6.9% ABV), is on store shelves now thru the end of October.  Suggested retail for a 22oz bottle is $4.99.

If you are attending this year’s Pour The Core: Long Island, on October 5th at Peconic Bay Winery, you can try Dry Hop during a special timed release. For more information on Woodchuck Dry Hop and all things Woodchuck visit their blog, The Core.


Alpenfire Cider Benefits Fallen Firefighters with New Release of "Smoke"

Alpenfire Cider introduced its newest estate bottling, “Smoke” at this year’s Washington Cider Week to fundraise for the Wildland Firefighter Foundation (WFF). Smoke is finely crafted and blended from the cidery’s organic, estate grown, bittersweet apples, picked extra ripe, then triple-fermented in mead and whiskey barrels to a smoky, oaky, after-dinner tipple, poured over ice. More than 900 French, English and domestic apple tree varietals were used in total  starting with Kingston Black, Dabinett, and Vilberie apples for their bittersweet, bittersharp and tannin flavors.

Smoke is available at select bottle shops and brew pubs throughout Puget Sound (WA) to help the WFF raise money for devastated families of firefighters who lost their lives or were severely injured on the firelines of this year’s tragic fire season. This year more than 30 young men and women, working for minimum wages and without benefits, have died.

Alpenfire Cider owner, Steve (Bear) Bishop, who worked for over 30 years as a hotshot on Forest Service teams and as a private contractor, remembers well the terror of being burned over as a roaring firestorm explodes overhead.

Extra donations for wildland firefighters are also being collected in bright yellow fireshelter bags displayed with bottled of Smoke at the following locations in Washington:

Smoke is bottled in 375 mL port bottles with an ABV of 16.0% and sells at $16.00/bottle or $192/case.

For more information, please visit AlpenfireCider.com.


Scott Laboratories Releases First Ever Cider Handbook

Well known for its annual Fermentation Handbook, Scott Laboratories announced the release of its first ever Cider Handbook. The 60-page handbook contains products, articles and protocols specific to the cider industry. With cider sales in the United States tripling since 2007, Scott recognized that this growing market needed attention.

“We really want to offer products and knowledge specific to this market,” commented Rebekka Swanson, Inside Fermentation Specialist at Scott Laboratories. “This beverage has a long history, and there are unique challenges with making cider. It’s different than either winemaking or brewing. We want to acknowledge those challenges and help provide resources.”

Producing the handbook was an educational experience for Scott Labs as well, who for the past 80 years has supplied products and services to wineries, breweries and distilleries across North America. Utilizing internal lab capabilities, as well as supplier R&D teams, numerous trials are already underway to learn more about which fermentation products work best with cider.

The 2013-2014 Cider Handbook will be available in the United States and Canada within the next couple of weeks. The handbook is free of charge and available to anyone that requests one. To request a copy, please email info@scottlab.com.

Scott Laboratories continues to meet the needs of the beverage industry with innovative products and solutions. It operates two main offices in Petaluma (CA) and a satellite facility in Healdsburg (CA). For more information regarding Scott Laboratories and the services and products that it supplies, please visit ScottLab.com.


12 Must Try Seasonal Ciders in 2013

As the apples fall from trees, football swings into full gear, the pumpkins become ripe and the cool air settles in we all know it’s coming… the fall equinox. Some of us will ignore it, others will travel with the sun to follow the warmth, but many will embrace it with harvest décor, food and of course beverage.

Pumpkin beers have been hugely popular over the last decade and seem to find their place on shelves earlier and earlier to meet demand. (There were several spottings of pumpkin beer on shelves in July!) However, have you seen pumpkin ciders? Most will likely answer “yes.” The renaissance of cider has also brought the demand of seasonal styles/flavors.

Below are 12 seasonal ciders from across the United States (in no particular order) that everyone must try this fall:

Naked Flock Pumpkin (NY): This pumpkin cider has a 6.8% ABV and is fermented with Hudson Valley – New York – apples and fresh local sugar pumpkins. It is unpasteurized with no colorants, malts, spirits or grape alcohol added; and fermented with champagne yeast and a touch of local honey.

ACE Pumpkin Cider (CA): First made in 2010, this cider is made of cinnamon, cloves and allspice to produce a 5% ABV cider that tastes like pumpkin pie. It’s a sweet cider that has a prominent spice aroma and a mellow pumpkin taste – clean and crisp.

Harpoon Pumpkin Cider (MA): This cider has a 4.8% ABV with a taste of pumpkin, cinnamon, ginger, clove and nutmeg. It has a dry, light and refreshing taste that is developed through freshly pressed Northeastern apples and locally harvested pumpkins.

Seattle Cider Co. Pumpkin Spice (WA): This semi-sweet cider is copper in color and fermented with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. It offers hints of the season’s favorite spices followed by just a touch of pumpkin with a 6.9% ABV.

Reverend Nat’s Providence Traditional New England (OR): A vinous and spicy hard cider following a classic recipe dating from early 1600’s Colonial America. It is fermented with lots of raisins, dark brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg and has been sitting on oak for at least 10 months. Served at room temperature and free of carbonation, it makes the ultimate mulled cider that has a 9.8% ABV which is fully dry.

Doc’s Draft Hard Pumpkin Cider (NY): Made from pressed New York state apples and fresh roasted pumpkins then blended with cinnamon, allspice, fresh ginger and nutmeg, this cider has a spicy forward taste but a noticeable pumpkin taste that remains apparent throughout. The 5% ABV cider is fermented with champagne yeast.

AeppelTreow Sparrow Spiced Cider (WI): A semi-dry, slightly bubbly, aromatic cider made with a spice blend infused during steel barrel aging. The 5.8% cider is made of Red Delicious, Cortland, McIntosh, and Greenings apples flavored with mace, cinnamon, star anise and cardamom.

Eve’s Cidery Autumn’s Gold (NY): This 10% ABV cider is a blend of English, French and American cider apples. It has a distinctive fruity nose that comes only from bittersweet apples, smoky, tannic undertones and a rich, warm texture with a lingering finish.

Great Shoals Spiced Apple (MD): Infused with orange peel, cinnamon, allspice and cloves, this cider is an off-dry dessert wine that captures the flavors of fall and the holidays. It’s packed with a blend of spice and apple aroma and has a semi-sweet taste with its 13.5% ABV.

Tieton Cider Works Smoked Pumpkin Cider (WA): Made with organically grown dessert apples from Harmony Orchards, this cider has a 6.9% ABV. The complexity of the smoke and earthiness of the pumpkin are the first flavors to emerge, followed by the bright acid of the cider.

Woodchuck Private Reserve Pumpkin Cider (VT): The first of the “private reserve” ciders, this cider is limited to just two and a half hours on the production line. It has a 6.9% ABV and is both sweet and sour with a super light body and crisp acidity. It is very sweet and lacks the typical spice but it’s nice to know apple remains the lead taste even with pumpkin added.

McKenzie’s Seasonal Reserve (NY): Sip, smell and savor the rich mulled spicy goodness of this cider that is flavored with cinnamon and nutmeg and has a 6% ABV.



Leahy Joins Schumer and Introduces Bill to Help Growing US Cider Industry

United States Senator Patrick Leahy of Vermont joined Senator Charles Schumer of New York to introduce legislation aimed at helping the growing hard cider industry in Vermont and New York. The CIDER Act – Cider Investment and Development through Excise Tax Reduction Act – would update the federal definition of hard cider to meet current market expectations and manufacturing processes.

Leahy said, “Vermont is closely associated with the booming market for hard cider, and this is a great opportunity to help cider and apple producers in Vermont meet the growing demand from coast to coast. Boosting cider production would create new economic opportunities for local cider manufacturers like the Vermont Hard Cider Company in Middlebury, while opening new markets for local apple producers throughout Vermont. This fits our strategy for expanding value-added agriculture in Vermont, which is a key building block for Vermont’s emerging markets and economy.”

Bret Williams, President and CEO of Vermont Hard Cider Company, said:  “We want to thank Senators Leahy and Schumer for introducing this bill.  The hard cider industry is poised for real growth both here in Vermont and across the country.  These proposed changes will allow Vermont cider makers to fully realize that potential, bringing solid economic growth to the Vermont landscape.  It will bolster Vermont’s role as a national leader in hard cider, just as it is in craft beer, cheese, and ice cream.  We again thank Senators Leahy and Schumer for taking the lead on this effort, and we look forward to working with them to get the CIDER Act passed.”

Terry Bradshaw, President of the Vermont Tree Fruit Growers Association, said:  “Vermont apple growers and cidermakers strongly support Senator Leahy’s proposed changes to federal hard cider tax law.  Apples – grown on nearly 4,000 acres of land in the state – are the second-most valuable specialty crop in Vermont with a farmgate value of over $15 million.  Expansion of high-value processed apple products, like hard cider, could significantly increase opportunities for regional and U.S. apple growers.  The hard cider market is rapidly expanding, but outdated tax policies will hamper this growth that promises to increase jobs, support farms, and enhance the quality of life throughout rural communities in Vermont.”   

Specifically, the Schumer-Leahy CIDER Act would raise the allowable levels of carbonation in hard ciders; align the alcohol content standard with the natural sugar content of apples; make U.S. standards consistent with European standards, which would increase the opportunity to expand U.S. exports; and allow pears to be part of the manufacturing process, which would help to develop the emerging pear cider and perry market.  

The new cider standards set by the CIDER Act would more accurately reflect the realities of the industry and the preferences of consumers.  Under current federal law, the outdated definition of hard cider only allows up to seven percent alcohol by volume before it is taxed at the higher rate of wine, and only a certain level of carbonation before it is taxed at the even higher rate of sparkling wine.  Market research shows that cider consumers today expect and prefer a higher level of carbonation, similar to that of most beer.  In addition, many small, craft cider producers who rely on natural raw materials often have little ability to predict and control the precise alcohol content or carbonation levels of their products.


Cider Events For Your October Calendar

Now that the harvest is here, orchards and farms across the country are super busy with tending to the crops and preparing for fall tourism. Have you planned your October weekend calendar? Check out some of the uniquely cider events taking place in the upcoming weeks:

October 5 – Pour The Core: A Hard Cider Festival Long Island
1PM-5PM at Peconic Bay Winery, Cutchogue, NY
Tickets: $40 online; $65 at the door (if available)

Pour The Core will showcase the finest US-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., Standard Cider Co., Angry Orchard, Doc’s Draft Hard Ciders, Virtue, and Woodside Orchards among others. The event will take place outdoors, under tents, rain or shine. Food will be available from Maple Tree BBQ Caterers. There will also be music and special seminars. General admission attendees will receive a souvenir tasting glass to sample all of the various ciders, beer and wine. This event is strictly 21+.

Pour The Core: A Hard Cider Festival Philadelphia will be taking place on September 28 from 1PM-5PM at the Philadelphia Navy Yard.

October 4-13 – Cider Week Finger Lakes
The Finger Lakes Cider Alliance of NY, a collaboration of local cider makers and orchardists, is hosting the 2nd Annual Finger Lakes Cider Week. Anchored by the Ithaca Apple Festival on the first weekend, Cider Week offers a variety of tastings, dinners with local chefs, informative talks, local orchard tours, and a chance to talk with the cider makers behind the craft. Participating cideries include: Red Byrd Cidery, Eve’s Cidery and Bellwether Hard Cider. Additional ciders will be sourced from Beak & Skiff, Harvest Moon Cidery and Steampunk. For a full listing of events and additional information, visit CiderWeekFLX.com.


October 12 – The Adirondack Coast Wine, Cider & Food Festival
12PM-8PM at The Crete Civic Center, Plattsburgh, NY
Tickets: $25 online; $30 at the door (if available)

The 2nd Annual Adirondack Coast Wine, Cider & Food Festival features live music, sampling, tasting, the “Great Lucy Grape Stomp” and the “Race to Taste.” In support of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s program, Taste – NY, Race to Taste is a new program this year that is a cooking competition open to all NY cooking and chef programs free of charge. The goal of the program is to showcase local NY farm products and the cutting edge culinary techniques of NY trained chefs and student chefs.

The first 750 patrons will receive a reusable wine tote and the first 1500 patrons will receive a commemorative wine glass, both courtesy of The Adirondack Bank. Each patron will receive a limited number of drink tickets and a food ticket but additional drink and food tickets are available for purchase. This event is strictly 21+.

October 18-27 – Cider Week NYC & Hudson Valley
The 3rd Annual Cider Week celebrates hard cider with tastings, flights, pairings, events, classes and more. Some highlighted events include: “The Intoxicating Apple: An Evening with America’s Sexiest Fruit” (10/18), Smorgasburg Cider Takeover (10/26) and Applepalooza (10/27). Visit CiderWeekNY.com for a full list of events and participating cider makers.

Also coming soon: Franklin County CiderDays on November 2-3 and Cider Week VA from November 15-23 (to be featured in next month’s issue)!



Eat This…

Drink That…

Hard Cider Braised Brats
From Popular Paleo

Angry Balls
From Angry Orchard

Credit: Ciarra of Popular Paleo

Credit: RA Sushi Bar Restaurant - Las Vegas