Hard Cider Newsletter

Seed to Sip Hard Cider Workshop Heads to Hershey, PA

The Penn State Extension announced that they will hold their next workshop in their Hard Cider Business and Production workshop series at the beginning of the new year.  This workshop, Hard Cider from Seed to Sip, will be held on February 1, 2016 from 1pm-5pm at The Vineyard and Brewery at Hershey in conjunction with the Mid-Atlantic Fruit and Vegetable Conference.

“This workshop will give attendees an intimate and informative look into the operations of a cidery, from start to finish.”  Carla Snyder, Hard Cider Program Educator said.  “The workshop will have meaningful information for those who are just starting in the industry as well as those who want to expand their existing knowledge.”

Expanding and burgeoning hard cider business owners will get to study the process in each step. Sessions will include:

  • Establishing and Maintaining the American Hard Cider Orchard
    Eric Shatt has a degree in Agrobiology and is Cornell University’s Orchard and Research Farms Manager. His passion is making hard cider and tending his own biodynamic orchard. Redbyrd Orchard Cider is a family-run orchard and cidery that grows heirloom, wild seedling, and European cider apples to produce distinct hand-crafted ciders.

  • Fermentation, Sanitation and Yeast Strain Selection
    Denise Gardner is the Penn State Enology Extension Associate with years of experience in the wine industry and two wine quality certifications: Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) certification from The Society of Wine Educators, and the Level 3 certification from the Wine and Spirits Educational Trust (WSET). Gardner focuses on a range of sensory expertise and production options associated with various fermented beverages, including hard cider.

  • East Coast Consumer Trends in Hard Cider
    Carla Snyder leads an effort to bolster new and diversifying hard cider producers with the skills and research they need to start and expand their business. She assisted in forming and serves as an advisor to the Pennsylvania Cider Guild, a new trade organization for Pennsylvania cider producers geared towards education and promotion of the industry.

  • Content Marketing – How to Engage with Your Customers to Increase Sales
    Mary Bigham is an award-winning publisher and producer of culinary content. Dish LLC operates TheTownDish.com, an online food and lifestyle publication and Dish Works, a culinary content agency.

This intensive workshop will also include a benchmark tasting of fruit ciders lead by Penn State Enologist Denise Gardner. Following the workshop networking and socializing with cider makers and industry professionals will be available.

Tara Baugher, Tree Fruit Expert adds, “Hard cider production has grown rapidly and has the ability to diversify and expand an existing fruit operation for increased profitability.”

Advanced registration is required. Cost is $120 per person and includes the benchmark tasting.  For more information and to register, click here or contact Erin Dugan at ekd5153@psu.edu or 717-334-6271. Photo from Alexandra Whitney Photography.


10 Winter Ciders for You to Cozy Up To

It’s that time of year again, the weather is getting colder, stores are playing holiday music, onesie pajamas are socially acceptable to wear, and you find yourself in need of something to drink while sitting by the fire. This list of 10 delicious winter ciders is sure to keep you warm and your taste buds happy all the way to spring:

  1. Woodchuck, Winter Chill (VT) – This limited release cider is Woodchuck’s winter offering and is only available from December to January. The cider has a warm amber color and has a fresh apple and vanilla note in the nose. It is slightly tart with notes of vanilla, light spice, and oak for flavor brought on by the aging process in French oak barrels. Weighing in at 5% ABV, this cider is more sessionable than other aged ciders.

  2. Rekorderlig, Spiced Apple (Sweden) – Apples, vanilla, and cinnamon on both the nose and palette mix to create Rekorderlig’s cozy winter cider. This cider is surprisingly only 4.5% ABV but it works to its advantage making it a versatile cider that can be enjoyed either cold or hot on a cold winter night.

  3. Downeast, Winter Blend (MA) – Downeast’s newest winter selection perfectly demonstrates how to balance crisp apple with spices while not making any one flavor overpower another. This lightly carbonated unfiltered cider comes in at 6.5% ABV and uses cinnamon bark and nutmeg to bring upon all of the wonderful winter flavors.

  4. Virtue, The Mitten (MI) – Nothing says winter quite like the oaky vanilla scent of charred bourbon barrels. Virtue Cider Co. wrapped these aromas over a semi dry cider and gifted us a wonderful “warming” cider, complete with a slight maple back note. At 6.9% ABV this is sure to please any cider drinker’s palette as the snow starts to fall.

  5. Cider Creek, Winter's Cinn (NY) – This unfiltered cider is a perfect beverage to have with friends this winter and at 6.9% ABV it is sure to keep everyone in jolly spirits. The cider is made with Bavarian yeast which brings on lovely notes of pear, plum, and banana. The winter specialty is then matched with cinnamon and spice rounding out the cider with vanilla back notes.

  6. J.K.’s, Cuvee Winterruption (MI) – Lightly spiced with ethically traded cinnamon, vanilla and a drop of maple syrup, the cider pours a tan color with fresh apple, cinnamon, maple syrup, and honey on the nose. The cider is clearly spiced but still balanced.This cider has a 6.9% ABV.

  7. Jack’s, Fireside Cider (PA) – This seasonal cider has a 5% ABV and is available from November – March. Itis packaged in an eco-friendly can which means it’s good to take this cider on the go this winter whether you’re going skiing or building a snowman. The cider is spiced with vanilla, ginger, cloves, and cinnamon subtly with characteristics of Jonagold, Ida Red, and Rome apple varieties shining through.

  8. Vander Mill, Nunica Pine (MI) – Aromas from this cider will make you feel like you are standing in a snow covered forest, lumberjack flannel optional.  This limited release seasonal cider brings about a delicious earthiness thanks to the introduction of Columbus hops. It is a pale yellow cider that has a perfectly balanced sweetness with acidity and bitterness, plus complex notes of green apple and pine. This cider comes in at 6.8% ABV.

  9. Adirondack, Double Tap Maple (NY) – Adirondack takes an interesting approach with their newest winter cider adding fresh New York State Maple syrup, one gallon of syrup to each gallon of cider to be exact. That’s a lot of maple!  This 5.4% ABV cider has notes of sweet apple with a prominent maple flavor. This cider is on the sweeter end with a little funk on the back note.

  10. Doc’s Draft, Cranberry Spice (NY) – If the snowflake on the label doesn’t convey the message that this is Doc’s Draft’s winter cider, the taste definitely will. The addition of fresh cranberries and spice is abundant. The first thing you can notice is aromas of ginger, cinnamon, cranberries, and apple.  The cider has a light pink hue with light carbonation. The tart notes of the cranberry blend perfectly with the sweetness of the apple and it all ends with cinnamon. This cider weighs in at 6% ABV and is a perfect winter warmer.

Contributed By: Eric dos Reis, Staff Writer of Hard Cider News


Original Sin Cider Celebrates 20th Anniversary with Release of New Extra Dry Cider

Original Sin Cider announced its entry into the canned cider market with the release of Original Sin Extra Dry Cider. Made in New York State, Original Sin Extra Dry Cider is produced exclusively with 100% freshly pressed New York apples. Renowned for its traditional dry ciders, Original Sin kicks off its 20th anniversary with the addition of a new can line to their award-winning line-up of bottled ciders. Original Sin Extra Dry Cider will initially be available starting January 10, 2016 in seven select states: Washington DC, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Maryland, Florida, and North Carolina. The national launch of Original Sin Extra Dry Cider in more than 30 states, including New York, will commence in April 2016.

New York State has a deeply rooted history of apple production. It was home to the first commercial nursery in the United States and it’s currently the second largest apple producing state in America. New York boasts 694 commercial orchards, generating 29.5 million bushels of annual production while curating the most diverse selection of apples in the country -- many of which are iconic heirloom apples. Original Sin is proud to release its first canned cider on the market utilizing 100% New York State apples. 

Original Sin Extra Dry Cider is a complex and well-balanced sessionable cider with 5.5% ABV. With its minimal residual sugar, Original Sin Extra Dry Cider appeals to seasoned cider aficionados seeking a drier pub-style alternative. An apple enthusiast in his own right, Gidon Coll (Founder of Original Sin) tested a wide range of New York apple varieties to develop a distinctive blend. Original Sin Extra Dry Cider includes Ida Red, MacIntosh, Jonagold, and several russeted apples.

Hard apple ciders are in the midst of a renaissance and New York State is now a hotbed with dozens of cideries releasing exceptional new products. A standout addition to Original Sin’s portfolio, Original Sin Extra Dry Cider features the best locally sourced New York produce. Original Sin Extra Dry Cider celebrates Original Sin’s 20 year venture as one of America’s foremost cider brands.

Original Sin Extra Dry Cider will be available as a 4-pack of 16oz cans (suggested retail price: $10.49). For up-to-date information on Original Sin®, please visit: OrigSin.com


Apple Country Spirits & DeFisher Family Farms Now Offers Rootstock Ciderworks

With a dedication to purity and sustainability, David DeFisher opened Rootstock Ciderworks and began selling its cider in 2015. Rootstock Ciderworks is a branch of Apple Country Spirits which was started in 2012. The 7,000 sq/ft cidery and 1,000 sq/ft tasting room is linked to the DeFisher Family Farms which boasts over 500 acres of orchards and grows both heritage and modern apples. DeFisher built his cidery in Williamson, NY about 25 miles from Rochester and it is located on the DeFisher Family Farms property, which has been in his family for four generations. His proximity to the farm allows him the use of the freshest apples and the ability to say that all of his ciders are made using local handpicked apples. Besides being locally sourced, DeFisher is also proud to say that his ciders only include two ingredients, apples and cider-making yeasts making it one of the purest lines of cider on the market. The cidery has ramped up production drastically, going from 7,000 gallons produced in 2014 to 30,000 gallons expected to be produced this year for release in 2016! Some of the fine selections available in the Rootstock portfolio include:

  • Original – Rootstock’s first cider. This well balanced hard cider is semi-sweet with notes of apple and banana. The use of dessert apples in its production makes it perfectly sessionable. This cider comes in at 6.9% ABV

  • Hopped – Who says hops are just for beer? This semi-dry cider comes from the perfect marriage of Crispin apples and Cascade hops. The cider is extremely complex on the nose bringing about notes of lemon and pine. 6.9% ABV

  • Dry – For those not into the sweet ciders, Rootstock has the perfect alternative. This dry cider allows drinkers to really appreciate an earthy cider while allowing the fruit characteristics of Jonagold and Ida Red apples, among others, to play a secondary but still important role. This cider is to be sipped and appreciated like good champagne, with a 6.9% ABV

  • Legend – Due to its extremely limited quantities, this semi-dry cider made from both heritage and dessert apples is a once in a lifetime cider as it is the first small batch cider the company has ever made. All apples used in this cider were picked in 2013, bottled, and then the finished cider was allowed to age - 6.9% ABV. If you see a bottle of this cider, grab it while you can as once it is gone it is gone for good!

  • Heritage (2014) – Another limited release cider, this off-dry cider is comprised of 10% Golden Russet and 90% Northern Spy apples. A requirement for a cider to be considered a heritage cider is that the apples used must be a variety that is at least 100 years old. The cider is complex on the palette with rich, well balanced flavor and boasts a beautiful golden color - 8.1% ABV

  • Perry (2014) – This dry European-style perry comes in at 6.1% ABV and is entirely made with Barlett pears. The perry has a pale straw color and subtle pear notes on the nose and palette.

Besides making great cider, Rootstock also cares for the environment and has put systems in place to ensure nothing goes to waste. They are sustainable in that every part of the fruit gets used and every by-product along the cider manufacturing process gets reused in some way, this allows nothing to go to waste. As if this were not a big enough dedication to being environmentally friendly, the cidery also uses solar energy to power it! The cidery runs about 90% off of solar power; the percentage goes up in the summer with more daily sun. Rootstock emits an almost absent carbon footprint while still putting out some amazing complex cider. All of the ciders in the line are well worth a try!

Go check out Rootstock Cider in their tasting room at 3274 Eddy Road, Williamson, NY or on RootstockCiderworks.com. You can now also find Rootstock Cider at select Wegman’s locations! Photos courtesy of Rootstock Ciderworks.

Contributed By: Eric dos Reis, Staff Writer of Hard Cider News


Schumer Secures Major Victory for New York Apple Producers in
Must-Pass Extenders Package Including CIDER Act

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer announced that a number of vital tax benefits for New Yorkers were included in the Protecting Americans from Tax Hikes Act of 2015, known as the tax extenders package. This must-pass legislation includes the CIDER Act, legislation which he initially introduced to lower the excise tax imposed on hard cider and help boost New York’s growing hard cider industry. Under current federal law, the outdated definition of hard cider only allows for hard cider’s alcohol content to reach up to seven percent alcohol per 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. With the passage of the CIDER Act, the definition of hard apple cider and pear cider would be changed in the Internal Revenue Code. This would increase the allowed alcohol by volume, and thus allow more hard cider products to be labeled and taxed like hard cider instead of the costlier tax structure for wine. Schumer urged his Senate colleagues to pass the CIDER Act in order to boost the sales for New York’s increasing number of hard apple cider producers and allow the hundreds of apple growers in the state to expand their business and add this popular craft beverage to their product line.

“The inclusion of the CIDER Act in this legislation means everyone from our New York apple growers to our hard cider producers would benefit from the fair taxation of hard cider. New York is the second largest apple producing state in the country, and there's no doubt it should be at the core of the hard cider industry. Under this legislation, apples that would otherwise be sold at a loss or thrown away, are now ripe for the cider press. By modernizing the definition of hard cider, our hard cider industry would pay less in taxes and be able to expand and compete,” said Schumer. “I am urging my colleagues on both sides of the aisle and in both chambers of Congress to vote for this bill so we can send this to the President’s desk. I have not stopped fighting to pass the CIDER Act, which would increase New York growers’ and producers’ ability to compete overseas and expand their business.”

In February 2015, Schumer announced the Senate Finance committee passed the CIDER Act; bipartisan legislation he first introduced in 2013. Now, the CIDER Act is included in must-pass tax extenders legislation. Schumer explained that the alcohol content of New York’s hard cider fluctuates greatly due to sugar content, and current law often forces it to be taxed at a higher rate, preventing it from being labeled as hard cider. Under current federal law, the outdated definition of hard apple and pear cider only allows for up to 7 percent alcohol by volume before it is taxed at the higher alcohol per volume rate of wine, and only a certain level of carbonation before it is subject to the champagne tax. Schumer said that many of New York’s hard cider producers are small craft hard cider operators, and because they rely on natural products, there is very little predictability and control over the precise alcohol content of their product. In addition, some consumers of hard apple cider expect a high level of carbonation as a substitute for beer, and current federal tax law doesn’t permit the desired amount without classifying the product as champagne. In both cases, hard cider often falls into different beverage categories, which makes ciders subject to higher alcohol excise taxes, and complicates labeling issues.

By providing this revised definition for hard apple and pear cider, increasing the alcohol by volume from 7 percent to 8.5 percent and carbonation level allowed, producers and growers could encompass significantly more hard cider products. This would allow their products to be labeled and taxed like hard cider, rather than wine. In 2013, Schumer first argued this would allow the over 650 apple growers and 20 existing hard apple cider producers at the time to expand their business.

Producing hard cider offers major benefits to apple orchards, whether they choose to increase production and add additional acres of “hard cider trees,” or if farmers simply use existing products to diversify their business. Most importantly, apple and other fruit growers who have suffered from frosts and bad weather in recent years have benefited from adding hard cider into their business model, as it is not nearly as susceptible to these unpredictable occurrences. Some producers grow specific varieties of apples to produce hard cider, while other producers can use apples from their crops that have been damaged by storms. Hard cider can also be made from apples that are high quality, but that are not as aesthetically pleasing to sell on a farm stand, and that would otherwise be sold at a loss or thrown away.

In addition, hard cider is a value-added product, and can reign in significant value for producers than simply selling the same apples. Hard cider is sold around the same price every year; therefore it gives producers a stable source of income when apple crops suffer due to weather and other unforeseen factors. New York apple producers are increasingly interested in producing smaller, artisanal batches of hard cider, but cite the cost and difficulty to comply with the IRC definition as significant impediments to expanding their businesses. Schumer said the federal definition of hard cider under the IRC is restrictive to both current producers as well as those hundreds of growers that would like to enter production of this craft beverage.

New York is the second largest apple producer nationwide, harvesting a total of 29.5 million bushels annually from over 650 farms and 41,000 acres across the state. In recent years, thanks to the growing popularity of hard cider, many apple producers have turned to producing this craft beverage to keep apple orchards profitable.

You can continue the momentum CIDER Act has gained by reaching out to your congressional representatives to thank them for their support or let them know about CIDER Act and why it is important to the cider industry and you. You can find a listing of the current co-sponsors by clicking here. For sample letters and instructions on how to find your congressional representatives and their contact information, please visit the United States Association of Cider Makers website at CiderAssociation.org/cideract.

The above article was provided via press release from Senator Schumer's office.


2 Towns Ciderhouse Releases 2013 Pommeau and Begins Distribution in San Diego

2 Towns Ciderhouse released its 2013 Pommeau this month—a port-style cider perfect for capping off a feast or sipping fireside. This 19% ABV cider yields notes of dried apricot, oak-barrel character and subtle hazelnut, as well as aromas of crème brulee and light tobacco. Pommeau was previously produced by 2 Towns’ sister company, Traditions Ciderworks.  Past vintages were honored with multiple awards from the Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Festival and Sip Northwest Magazine’s Best of the Northwest.

To create the Pommeau the cidery pressed Dabinette, Porter’s Perfection, Kingston Black and a variety of other apples for a robust blend of juice that’s high in fermentable sugars and rich with complex tannins. They then took the blended juice, lightly fermented it, transferred it to oak barrels, fortified it with apple brandy and aged it for over a year.  2 Towns Ciderhouse used brandy distilled from their own cider and aged the Pommeau in barrels previously used for chardonnay, pinot noir, sauterne, muscat and brandy.

“This Pommeau demonstrates exceptional integrated complexity—it’s smooth and multifaceted, full-bodied and delicate,” said Dave Takush, head cidermaker for 2 Towns Ciderhouse. “It pairs well with a variety of holiday fare, including oven baked figs stuffed with blue cheese, slices of a rich terrine or even a bold cigar.”

Fewer than 500 cases of 375ml bottles of the 2013 Pommeau were produced. It will be available in limited quantities in Oregon, Washington, California, Idaho, Nevada, Minnesota and Chicago. Fortunately, 2 Towns Ciderhouse just announced its partnership with Craft Beer Guild Distributing of San Diego (CBGSD) to distribute its ciders throughout San Diego County, so those in San Diego may even find the Pommeau. Previously, 2 Towns ciders were available on a limited basis in the county.

San Diego County stores, bars and restaurants will now have access to the 2 Towns full lineup of ciders, including flagship BrightCider, Bad Apple, OutCider, and Made Marion, a blackberry cider. In addition, the company’s seasonal, limited-release and specialty ciders will be available for local enjoyment.

“CBGSD has a great reputation for service in the craft beverage-focused San Diego area,” said Nels Jewell-Larsen, director of business development for 2 Towns Ciderhouse. “We look forward to joining the great craft community and working on some San Diego-specific collaborations – we have something lined up for early spring that I think folks will be really excited about.”

“2 Towns makes true craft cider,” said Kyle Sartanowicz, market manager of CBGSD. “Their ciders will make a unique addition to our portfolio. Our customers are going to be really impressed with the quality and approachability of their offerings, and we are very excited about partnering with 2 Towns in San Diego.”

Unfortunately, 2 Towns Ciderhouse is still not available nationwide though so check out 2TownsCiderhouse.com for availability near you.


Additional Information

In November 2015’s e-newsletter, there was an article titled “Black Cider” that stated Flying Monk Brewery created what they believe to be the world’s first black cider. This statement was from Flying Monk Brewery’s own research. After Hard Cider News released the article, the editor was informed that 101 Cider House has been producing a cider called Black Dog since August 2015. Flying Monk Brewery released their black cider in February 2015.

Eat This…

Drink That…

Pork Stew with Hard Cider & Parsnips
From Feed Me Phoebe

Double Cider-Bourbon Punch
From Christine Byrne of BuzzFeed

Photo Credit: Phoebe Lapine

Photo Credit: Lauren Zaser