Hard Cider Newsletter

Hard Cider Revolution Comes to the Home of the Revolution

Event producers, Starfish Junction Productions, recently brought America’s historic beverage to the home of the American Revolution with Pour the Core: A Hard Cider Festival – Boston. On Saturday, September 12, 2015 over 1,500 cider enthusiasts and casual consumers gathered at the Royale in Boston’s Theatre District to try and explore within the world of hard cider. Over 75 ciders from more than 30 represented companies poured their product, shared their expertise, and spent their time with the crowd during two sessions of cider-filled fun.

With local favorites, such as Downeast Cider, Far From the Tree Cider, and Lookout Farms, nationally recognized names such as Woodchuck and Angry Orchard, newcomers like Sonoma Cider and even international brands such as Maeloc, Rekorderlig, and Aspall, every attendee had the chance to have their fill of tried-and-true favorites while sampling some previously-unseen ciders that are sure to be their go-to soon enough.

“It was such a wonderful atmosphere within the venue as all cideries and attendees were having a great time experiencing this one-of-a-kind event where it hasn’t been before,” said Lynda Calimano, Vice President of Marketing at Starfish Junction. “We’re excited to hear the feedback from our attendees, and are ecstatic to have heard such great things thus far! We’re grateful to have had the opportunity to bring this festival into another great city with such a great turnout,” Calimano continued.

While the day had a strong focus on sampling, it was truly a learning experience for attendees even past trying new things. This edition of Pour the Core housed three special seminars that all ticketholders were welcome to attend:

  • How to Make Hard Cider, an introductory class into making hard cider lead by Head Cider Maker of Far From the Tree Hard Cider, Al Snape

  • Uncommon Blends, a look into the creativity that can come out of hard cider production presented by Cider Maker at Sonoma Cider, Dwight Harrington

  • The Lost Apple Project, a discussion on bringing some of America’s historically rampant but presently rare apple varieties into annual vintage productions in modern day cidermaking presented by Co-Founder of Shacksbury, David Dolginow

For those who were not able to make the inaugural Massachusetts celebration, don’t worry! Pour the Core is making its way through the Northeast, making stops soon on Long Island and in Philadelphia. On Saturday, October 3 take the trip to Calverton Links in Calverton, New York for Pour the Core: Long Island, featuring Long Island locals Po’Boy Cider and Woodside Orchards for its fourth annual celebration. Just a few weeks later, on Saturday, October 17 at the Philadelphia Navy Yard, the third annual Pour the Core celebration heads back to Philly, this year featuring cysers (a mead and cider blended beverage) as well as cider favorites! Whether you’re a seasoned cider veteran, or are just now getting into the cider game, Pour the Core is a great way to spend a Saturday and entertain your taste-buds with new flavor combinations and libations. For additional information, visit PourTheCore.com. Photos courtesy of Karl Mischler.

Contributed by: Meagan Schuster, Staff Writer of Hard Cider News


Hard Ciders Inspire New Teavana Teas for Fall

Over the past several years, there has been a surge in the popularity of hard ciders. Teavana’s innovative take on this trend includes loose leaf teas inspired by cider and infused with spices and dried fruits.

“There has been a revival of the American tradition of producing hard ciders,” said Naoko Tsunoda, tea authority and director of tea development at Teavana. “With this in mind, we reinvented the flavors of ciders into brewed tea and created new epicurean blends with botanical ingredients.”

Every Saturday and Sunday from now through October 18, Teavana stores in the United States will offer a complimentary “flight” or samples of the cider-inspired teas, for customers who wish to taste them side by side. Those who purchase one pound of any tea cider or cider combination, will receive a 20 percent discount from participating stores.

In addition to the complimentary tea cider flight, customers may try individual samples of Spiced Apple Cider through October 18, while supplies last.

“If you follow the wine industry, flights are a standard now,” said Tsunoda. “For the first time, we will provide tea flights, so customers can taste and compare our three tea ciders that are light, medium and full-bodied in flavor.”

Below you will find additional information on three tea ciders in the flight:

  • Poached Pear Cider – The most subtle flavor of the tea cider collection, the new Poached Pear Cider is a nuanced blend of pear with citrus, lemongrass and soft spices. “We wanted to create a tea with the taste of an epicurean dessert, similar to the poached pear that you find in French cuisine. White hibiscus adds a bright flavor to the medley of sweet apples, cinnamon, cardamom and cloves, “said Tsunoda.

  • Spiced Apple Cider – A seasonal favorite at Teavana, Spiced Apple Cider is medium-bodied and starts with red rooibos tea, blended with sweet cinnamon spice, apple, chicory, plum and red hibiscus. “Spiced Apple Cider is one of our most popular blends that we offer in the fall,” said Tsunoda. “It tastes wonderful as a brewed tea or you can take it an extra step and mull it with sweet or hard cider.”

  • Mulled Pomegranate Cider – A full-bodied blend, the Mulled Pomegranate Cider is new to the tea cider collection and is made with pomegranate, a juicy medley of red and black berries and spices. “Pomegranate is beloved as a super fruit and has a rich culinary history in Persian cuisine,” said Tsunoda. “Mulled Pomegranate Cider makes a deliciously vibrant iced tea and is also amazing sparkled with seltzer or with a blush rose.”

Photos courtesy of Starbucks. Visit Teavana.com for more information and to order tea ciders online.


Virtue Cider Joins Forces with Goose Island Beer

It was a reunion of sorts for Gregory Hall as the owner of the Michigan-based hard cider company, Virtue, announced that he would be selling a 51% stake of the company to the Anheuser Busch subsidiary Goose Island Beer Company. Hall, the once Goose Island brewmaster, started Virtue Cider in 2011 after the Anheuser Busch purchase of his family’s Goose Island Beer Company became final. Although Goose Island will now hold a controlling share of Virtue Cider, day to day operations won’t be changing much as Hall and co-founder Stephen Schmakel will continue to be the creative and operational team behind the business and will continue producing Virtue Cider in Fennville, Michigan.

“Since we started Virtue Cider in 2011, we’ve committed ourselves to producing traditional European-style farmhouse ciders using Michigan apples pressed at our farm in Fennville,” said Gregory Hall, Virtue Cider founder. “The partnership with Goose Island will give Virtue access to high speed bottling and kegging equipment at the Fulton Street Brewery, and the resources to expand production and distribution. We will get our ciders in the hands of more cider drinkers.”

Virtue Cider has been producing cider for over four years and is a creative outlet for Gregory Hall’s innovative brewing methods. The company has created a portfolio of heavily focused barrel aged ciders including their flagship brand RedStreak, a proper English style cider and The Mitten, one of six traditional farmhouse blends that Virtue ages in one of the largest barrel programs in North America. Virtue has more than 700 oak barrels in Fennville, including French oak, American oak and bourbon barrels.

“We’re excited to welcome Greg Hall back into the Goose Island family,” said Ken Stout, General Manager of Goose Island. “Virtue Cider produces amazing barrel aged ciders and with our combined resources we look forward to innovating and growing the business together.”

Virtue Cider sold about 15,500 cases of cider in 2014, with Red Streak accounting for 34% of total production. Hall told Peter Frost of Crain’s Chicago Business recently, “For the last couple of years, we have been hitting our head on the ceiling on the amount of cider we can deliver. When we got into this in 2011, we had high hopes for Virtue and cider, but nobody had any idea it was going to grow in the way it did. Demand has far exceeded our ability to keep up with supply.” Virtue will seek to expand but will first take care of its existing markets.

While the terms of the sale and agreement have not come to light, one thing is for sure, Virtue Cider will be rolling out plenty of new cider and many more enthusiasts will now have the ability to sample the prestigious beverages. For now, in states which Virtue does not distribute, curious palates will either have to patiently wait or visit the Michigan tasting room for samples of the craft cider. Virtue operates a bottle shop at Virtue Farm in Fennville, where cider drinkers can tour the cider house and get a tasting of all the ciders. For more information on Virtue Cider or Goose Island Beer Company, visit VirtueCider.com or GooseIsland.com.


'Prickle Me Pink' Pairs Apple and Cactus for a New 2 Towns Ciderhouse Limited Release

This month 2 Towns Ciderhouse released Prickle Me Pink, a limited prickly pear hard cider. Infused with the fruit of a cactus, this precocious cider leads with aromas of fig nectar, watermelon and an unbelievable fuschia color derived solely from the prickly pear. This is nature’s way of saying “yum!”

“When we saw the color of raw prickly pear, we were blown away by its outrageously pink flesh,” said Ian McKinnon, Lead Cellarman at 2 Towns Ciderhouse. “Prickle Me Pink matches the increcible color with an equally awesome flavor profile of fresh watermelon without a ton of sweetness. “With its unique and spiny ingredients, it was one of our most challenging ciders to make yet, but well worth the fight!”

Prickle Me Pink has a 6% ABV and uses 100% fresh-pressed NW apple juice and California whole prickly pear. The fruit is naturally dense in color and lends the cider a hue that borders on neon. The cactus fruit can be found throughout the arid western states. Although the fruit is edible, the spines found on the outside of the fruit make it a formidable feat to forage.

Prickle Me Pink is now available in the 2 Towns Ciderhouse Tap Room and to distributors in bottles, 1/6 bbls. kegs and 1/2 bbls. kegs. 2 Towns Ciderhouse ciders are available on Oregon, Washington, California, Alaska, Idaho, Hawaii, Chicago and parts of Nevada and Minnesota. For additional information, please visit: 2TownsCiderhouse.com.


Eastern Maryland Welcomes First Cidery, Faulkner Branch

Recently the first hard cider tasting room in Caroline County and the only cidery on the Eastern Shore of Maryland arrived as Faulkner Branch opened their doors. Lynda and Stephen Blades began Blades Orchard in May 2008, and this past spring they expanded to welcome the cidery and a tasting room at the orchard which officially opened in May 2015.

“We are very excited to be open and be the first place to make hard cider in Caroline County and on the Eastern Shore,” said Lynda Blades, Managing Partner. “It is two years in the making. We have a new tasting room and a speakeasy-style lounge where you can come and relax.”

While the cider makers originally started up with two varieties, they are actively working to expand their repertoire, including the soon-to-be-released The Jungle, after the nickname they gave their orchards. Their current varieties are as follows:

• Head Waters: a European-style hard cider which boasts a dry, crisp, and not-too-sweet finish

• Tax Ditch Green: a traditional American Cider that is on the sweeter end of the spectrum

“We made about 40 varieties to try,” Stephen Blades, Head Cider Maker, said. “Some of them were just bad. We did a lot of trial and error. We narrowed it down to about 10, then had friends come over to taste the rest before making our choices.”

After growing the orchard business to include over 3,500 producing trees, the Blades looked for the next direction for their business. “For some people, producing hard cider and distilling is an obvious next step,” Lynda Blades said. “We grow fruit, but Steve has been in the liquor industry for many years, and so in some sense of the word, it is coming full circle because we are not just selling it, we are making it.” 

Distilling is the next frontier for the Blades.  Licensing and permit approval is currently underway and production will likely start in 2016. Faulkner Branch at Blades Orchard is located at 4822 Preston Road, Federalsburg, Maryland. For more information, visit FaulknerBranch.com or call 410-829-0334. Faulkner Branch is open from 12pm – 4pm each Saturday and Sunday for tastings and purchases.


Online Hard Cider Store Opens Up Shop in Portland

SHIPcider.com, Oregon’s first online craft cider store, launched this week in Portland. The company will feature Pacific Northwest craft cider prominently among its vast array of cider from around the world. The site will carry dozens of craft ciders and meads from California, New York, Michigan, Colorado, Washington, New Zealand, England and France. Additionally, Oregon ciders featured on the site will include 2 Towns Ciderhouse, Anthem, Reverend Nat’s, Apple Outlaw, Portland Cider, Bull Run, Wildcraft, and Nectar Creek Meadery.

“We are extremely lucky to have so many great cider makers here in Oregon,” said Joe Leineweber, Founder of SHIPcider.com. “This is a way for us to share Oregon’s enthusiasm for this craft with the rest of the country.”

Highlights of the online retailer service include 10% discounts on full-case orders, themed pre-mixed gift packs (also discounted), an order-by-phone option, custom orders and greeting card and gift wrap options. As SHIPcider.com continues to roll-out, the company will also be offering canned cider which will carry a more attractive shipping rate.

“Cider is definitely the new wine when it comes to gifts,” said Leineweber. “Not only is it a more memorable gift, but it’s also relatively affordable.”

New ciders are continually being added to the site for purchase. New adds this week include Schilling Mischief Maker Pomegranate, Seattle Cider Gin Botanical and Three Pepper, Eden Ice Cider, and FinnRiver Forest Ginger.

The company currently ships to 23 states and the District of Columbia. For additional information, please visit SHIPcider.com or to place an order call 844-SHIP-YES.


Eat This…

Drink That…

The Woodchuck Chili
From Woodchuck

The Clonmel Kick
From Magners for their 80th Anniversary celebration!

Photo Credit: Woodchuck

Photo Credit: Magners