Hard Cider Newsletter

'Tis the Season for Cranberry

With the fall harvesting of cranberries across the United States, it makes sense why we often find cranberries associated with the holiday season and specifically Christmas. Cranberries are slow to spoil and have multiple uses as jellies, sauces, juices, preserves, tarts and even hard ciders.  Cranberries are naturally tart and bitter plus they provide a nice, deep red color. When combined with a sweetener like sugar, maple syrup and/or apple cider, the bitterness is subdued and the color is enhanced – providing a delicious food and/or beverage.

Here are just 10 of our favorite cranberry hard ciders we recommend for any holiday dinner table:

  • Downeast Cranberry Blend – Fresh pressed cranberries and apples are fermented with ale yeast for a 5% ABV, unfiltered, lightly carbonated, gluten-free hard cider. Available year-round in cans and draft.  

  • Seattle Cider Co. Cranberry – A 6.9% ABV cider aged on cranberries from Starvation Alley, Washington’s first organic cranberry farm, for a berry-hued cider that is completely dry, pleasantly tanic and just the right amount of tart. Limited availability beginning November 1.

  • Finnriver Cider Cranberry Rosehip – Finnriver’s winter seasonal cider featuring a lively fermented apple base with tart, organic cranberries and wildcrafted rosehips from the Olympic Peninsula of Washington State. This 6.5% ABV semi-sweet cider is a limited seasonal.

  • Doc’s Draft Cranberry Spice – With a 6% ABV, this crystal clarity cider has a pink hue made from the fresh cranberries added to the pressed New York State apple juice and spice fermented with champagne yeast. This cider is a winter seasonal with limited availability.

  • One Tree Hard Cider Cranberry – Described as a “tart explosion,” the real cranberry jumps out first and is then pulled back by the sweet apple taste for a smooth finish. This 6% ABV cider has year-round availability.

  • Tieton Cider Works Cranberry Cider – A semi-sweet cider that is racy and fresh, perfect for lovers of both sweet and tart. The cider makers at Tieton Cider Works blend fresh pressed cranberry juice into an already upbeat blend of fermented apples for a 6.9% ABV cider that scored a Gold Medal (92 points) at the 2015 Tastings.com World Cider Championships.

  • Wyndridge Crafty Cranberry Cider – A more sophisticated cider crafted in the spirit of a traditional champagne-style hard cider. This cider is made with local Pennsylvania pressed apples, yeast and real cranberry juice. The fresh, clean cranberry hard cider is available year round with an ABV of 5.5%.

  • Champlain Orchards Cidery Cranberry – A delicious and refreshing apple cranberry hard cider with balanced sweetness from the apples and tartness from Vermont cranberries.  This cranberry cider has a blush color, delicate flavors, and crisp finish. In 2014, Champlain Orchards won a Bronze Medal at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition for this 5.6% ABV, 1.5% residual sugar, cider.

  • Lancaster County Frosted Cranberry Cider – At 5.5% ABV, this winter seasonal variety available from September to January is lightly spiced to keep you warm during the chilly winter months. The tart cranberries compliment the natural flavor of apples to create a medium sweet flavor with a light acidic bite.

  • Cobbler Mountain Jammin’ Cranberry Ginger – A blend of Red Delicious, Ginger Gold, and Fuji apples, this cider is made with cranberry and ginger then aged for six months to finish as a 6.7% ABV cider. This cider has heavy ginger but a nice orange note to it as well.

There are many more cranberry ciders in the market so be on the lookout! We tasted a delicious one from New England Cider Company that had a 6.9% ABV which was very smooth with a really nice tart taste but only available at the tasting room in Connecticut. Cider Riot, from Oregon, also makes their Bogman’s Cranberry Brettanomyces cider which has a blend of over 20 different cider and dessert apples aged for a year on natural brettanomyces from the orchard where the apples were grown, and then aged for another nine months in their bottles. The result is a truly complex cider but since it was released in 2015 bottles are hard to find.


Governor McAuliffe Announced $775,000 Investment in Louisa County, VA

Governor Terry McAuliffe announced that Coyote Hole Ciderworks will build a new cidery in Louisa County (VA) and create five new jobs. The company will invest $775,000 to build a new production cidery and tasting room in Mineral, VA. In addition, Coyote Hole Ciderworks will purchase more than one million pounds of Virginia-grown apples and fruit over the next three years.

“Coyote Hole Ciderworks” investment in Louisa County bolsters Virginia’s reputation as a top East Coast craft beverage destination and highlights the growing and important link between agriculture and tourism across the Commonwealth,” said Governor McAuliffe. “I commend Coyote Hole Ciderworks’ commitment to locally sourced apples and their expansion exemplifies the economic strength of Virginia-crafted products. We will continue to support and invest in the Commonwealth’s diverse agricultural resources and showcase our outstanding local businesses that drive the new Virginia economy.”

During fiscal year 2016, nearly 417,000 cases of Virginia cider were sold, an increase of more than 52 percent over fiscal year 2015. Currently, Virginia is sixth in the nation for number of cideries. According to a 2012 economic impact study, the Virginia wine industry, including the Virginia cider industry, employs more than 4,700 and contributes almost $750 million to the Virginia economy on an annual basis. National industry analysts expect solid growth to continue in this sector for the next several years.

“Coyote Hole Ciderworks’ expansion represents another positive step for Virginia as we reinforce our reputation as a key player in the nation’s hard cider sector,” said Virginia Secretary of Agriculture and Forestry, Basil Gooden. “Craft beverages are contributing positively to cities and rural communities across the Commonwealth, adding to the Governor’s call to build a new Virginia economy.”

The Commonwealth is partnering with Louisa County and Coyote Hole Ciderworks on this project through the Governor’s Agriculture and Forestry Industries Development (AFID) Fund, which is administered by the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services (VDACS). Governor McAuliffe approved a $20,000 grant from the AFID Fund to assist with the project, which Louisa County is matching with local funds.

“We are extremely excited and grateful to be working with the County of Louisa and the Commonwealth of Virginia,” said Chris Denkers, President and CEO of Coyote Hole Ciderworks. “We strive, personally and with our business, to support local, small businesses and we are excited to be working with several Virginia orchards to use 100 percent Virginia apples. This grant will help us get up and running, grow more quickly and bring new jobs into Louisa County while supporting local businesses throughout Virginia.”

“Louisa County is fortunate to have Coyote Hole Ciderworks as part of our business community, the first of its kind in the county,” added Chairman Lloyd Runnett of the Louisa County Industrial Development Authority. “We are thankful for Chris and Laura Denkers’ entrepreneurial spirit and their proactive approach in pursuing their passion to bring a unique business, such as Coyote Hole Ciderworks, to Louisa County. These projects play an important role in tourism and the County’s agritourism industry, which is an increasing economic development focus for the County. We are excited to be a part of this important project and wish Coyote Hole the most success now and in the future.”

For additional information about Coyote Hole Ciderworks, please visit CoyoteHole.com. For more information about Governor Terry McAuliffe’s “building a new Virginia economy,” please visit Governor.Virginia.gov. Photos courtesy of Governor Terry McAuliffe and Coyote Hole Ciderworks.


Reverend Nat's Hard Cider Releases 16.6% Bourbon Barrel-Aged Wooden Hellfire

Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider continues to produce ciders that no one else will make with the debut of their newest cider, Wooden Hellfire, a 16.6% ABV monster produced only with fresh apple juice and yeast, and left to age for over a year in Kentucky-sourced used bourbon barrels. This cider may likely have the highest ABV ever achieved in a cider without the addition of external sugars.

“The cider was conceived as a response to the fledgling ‘ice cider’ style,” says Founder and Head Cider Maker, Reverend Nat West. In this cider style, largely produced in Quebec, apples are typically left on the tree until they freeze, thus cryo-concentrating the natural juice until it achieves a very high starting sugar level. These high natural sugars allow the production of a naturally sweet and high alcohol cider that has no other ingredients added to increase the ABV such as fruit juice concentrates, sugar or distilled spirits.

“But I never liked the perfume-y and syrupy profile of ice ciders very much,” continued West. “So I wondered what would happen if I boiled the hell out of juice rather than freezing it.” In July of 2015, West worked with a local Portland brewery; stating that they’re a big brewery and don't want to go on-record with this project, to boil fresh apple juice for 18 hours, reducing the overall volume by two thirds. This “pyro- concentrated” apple juice created what West described, “[as a] thick and viscous, about 29 brix, full of caramelized burnt sugars with tons of cooked apple and molasses flavors.” He added, “It was right then that I realized I was making more of a barleywine kindred than a riff on ice cider.”

West brought the juice back to his cidery and fermented it with a Belgian saison strain, “going for some Belgian quad aromas to play with what remained of the apples,” West said. Fermentation completed in about 60 days at which time the cider was racked into freshly-dumped Woodford Reserve bourbon barrels where it rested for over a year before being bottled exclusively for the Tent Show Bottle Club, which is Reverend Nat’s rare-cider membership group. Thirty-eight cases were released last week at the group’s monthly cider release. Remaining bottles went on sale this past Tuesday, December 20th, in Reverend Nat’s Public Taproom. An extremely small number of flavored variants were made as well including cherry-chipotle and coffee-cacao.

To see if bottles still exist or to learn more about Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider, please visit ReverendNatsHardCider.com. Photos courtesy of Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider.


Portland Cider Company Releases Union Jack Limited Availability Cider

Portland Cider Company announced the release of Union Jack, a limited release cider available in 750ml bottles at Portland Cider Co. taprooms and select stores throughout the Portland metro area. Union Jack is a truly authentic English cider made from traditional cider apples grown in Yamhill County (Oregon), cold fermented over months and aged for over a year. This still, dry cider is a balanced, complex array of fruit flavors with soft tannins that compliment, and not over power, giving it a rich body and dry finish. 

“Union Jack is the best representation of the mission of Portland Cider Company – combining the tradition of English cider making with quality northwest ingredients,” says Jeff Parrish, Owner of Portland Cider Co.

This very limited release cider will be available once a year, with a new batch already in production for 2017. Head Cider Maker Deron Davenport says, “The aging process for Union Jack adds to the complexity of the flavors, while balancing the tannins for a beautiful cider that highlights the glorious cider apple fruit.” 

Union Jack was made from 40 different varieties of cider apples and finished with a final gravity of 1.000 and a 6.9% ABV.

To celebrate the release of this cider, along with three other specialty or limited release ciders, Portland Cider Company hosted a Holiday Wassail Party at their Clackamas Cidery + Taproom earlier this month. The other ciders released at the party included: 

  • Holiday Juniper: an off-dry seasonal cider made for the Holiday Ale Festival with 100% northwest grown culinary and dessert apples, fermented on Juniper berries and red plums with notes of pepper, stone fruit, and apple skins for taste (6.9% ABV)

  • Imperial Winter Spice: a spin on a classic Portland Cider Co. seasonal made exclusively for the Wassail Party

  • ‘Oregon Wild’ Community Cider: the final product of the company’s PDX Community Apple Collection with notes of sharp, subtle tannins, red delicious apples, wood and cream soda (5.25% ABV)

The ‘Oregon Wild’ Community Cider will be available exclusively at both Portland Cider Co. taprooms. This delicious semi-sweet cider was made entirely of Portland Community backyard apples. 100% of the net proceeds will be donated to Oregon Wild for every pint or growler fill sold, as part of Portland Cider Company’s partnership with the Oregon Brewshed Alliance.

For additional information, please visit PortlandCider.com. Photos courtesy of Portland Cider Company.


Governor Cuomo Announced Number of New York Farm Cideries Have Tripled

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the number of farm cideries operating manufacturing facilities in New York State has tripled, growing from just eight in October 2014 to 24 today. This growth has been a direct result of the Farm Cideries Legislation, signed on October 17, 2013. The law established a new license for cideries that use crops grown exclusively in New York. It has strengthened the state’s apple industry, promoted job growth, and boosted tourism throughout the Empire State. 

“The Farm Cideries Law has cut red tape and created new opportunities for apple growers and entrepreneurs across New York, helping this burgeoning part of the craft beverage sector grow by leaps and bounds,” Governor Cuomo said. “There is a great synergy to farm cideries, which use New York apples to make a great New York product, a win-win that helps create jobs and economic activity across the board. I look forward to this exciting industry’s continued growth in virtually every corner of this state.” 

In addition to the 24 farm cideries operating today, five off-site branch stores have been opened, where farm cideries can sell farm-produced wine, beer, spirits and cider by the bottle or by the glass, in addition to operating gift shops and opening restaurants. 

Prior to the Farm Cidery Law, hard cider could only be produced at farm wineries or through a cider producer license, which does not require the use of New York apples. Cider producer licensees also lacked expanded privileges including tastings, sale of other farm-based products by the bottle or glass, and the opportunity to open restaurants, gift shops and branch stores, which have helped New York’s farm cideries become tourist destinations. 

The Farm Cidery legislation was established following one of three New York State Wine, Beer and Spirits Summits to hear directly from industry professionals about their needs and opportunities for growth. The law went into effect January 15, 2014 and authorizes farm cideries to manufacture and sell hard cider made from crops grown in New York State. The provisions of the bill are modeled after similar provisions for farm breweries, wineries and distilleries. 

A list of farm cideries currently operating in New York State is listed below:

  • Nine Pine Ciderworks, Albany

  • Sundog Cider, Chatham

  • Cunningham Creek Distributors (dba Cider Creek Hard Cider), Canisteo

  • Descendant Cider Company, Maspeth

  • Blackduck Cidery, Ovid

  • Kaneb Orchards, Massena

  • Bad Seed Cider Company, Highland

  • Fishkill Farms, Hopewell Junction

  • Blue Toad Hard Cider, Rochester

  • Embark Craft Ciderworks, Williamson

  • Wayside Ciders, Delhi

  • Stone Bridge Cider, Hudson

  • Metal House Cider, Ulster Park

  • Brooklyn Cider House, Geneva

  • Dark Island Spirits, Alexandria Bay

  • Sterling Cidery, Sterling

  • Cooperstown Beverage Exchange, Cooperstown

  • Black Creek Cidery, Byron

  • Saratoga Apple, Schuylerville

  • Clintondale Brewing Company, Clintondale

  • Westwind Orchard, Accord

  • Little Apple CIdery, Hillsdale

  • Grisamore Cider Works, Locke

  • 2 Way Brewing Company, Beacon

State Agriculture Commissioner Richard A. Ball said, “Thanks to the Farm Cideries Law, New York’s apple industry is stronger than ever before, more jobs are being created, local businesses are flourishing, and consumers are enjoying our world-class apples in a whole new way. Governor Cuomo recognized the potential for this success and I thank him for his continued support of the entire craft beverage industry.”

State Liquor Authority Chairman Vincent Bradley said, “Since the first Summit, Governor Cuomo has partnered with the industry to create new low cost farm based licenses, cut taxes and fees, implemented important regulatory reforms, and supported research and marketing that has led to a renaissance in craft beverage manufacturing across New York State.” 

Empire State Development President, CEO & Commissioner Howard Zemsky said, “Over the past three years, we have seen tremendous growth in New York’s craft cider industry thanks to Governor Cuomo’s efforts to support this burgeoning industry, including the Farm Cideries Law. It has been a win-win for New York State – the success of cideries has boosted business for New York’s apple farmers, as they provide fresh, high quality apples to cider and craft beverage producers throughout the Empire State.”

New York Cider Association Executive Director Jenn Smith said, “Governor Cuomo’s encouragement of New York State cider makers has resulted not only in phenomenal growth in the amount of cider produced, in the volume of fruit utilized and in the increase in value added to the state’s annual apple crop – it has resulted in the development of New York State cider’s identity as a premium agricultural product, a beverage of great complexity, and a compliment to any meal.”

New York State ranks second in apple production in the nation, a standing it has held since 1996. As the number of cideries in the state skyrockets, the demand for New York apples continues to grow. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture Statistics Service, New York produced 1.36 billion pounds of apples in 2015, a nearly 8 percent increase over the previous year. The value of the State’s apple production also rose by nearly 10 percent to an estimated $275 million over 2014. 

The New York Apple Association, reports the apple industry in the Empire State provides approximately 10,000 direct agricultural jobs in New York and thousands of indirect jobs through fruit handling, distribution, marketing, and exports. 


Six Cookies for Any Hard Cider Enthusiast

The holiday season is often associated with a ton of baking and cookie exchanges. If you love to bake and love hard cider, here are six cookie recipes for you to bake with your favorite adult beverage:

1. Hard Cider Oatmeal Cookies with White Chocolate (From Carrie Burrill of Bakeaholic Mama)

2. Hard Apple Cider Cookies with Caramel (From Kathleen Grace of Cupcakes for Dinner)

3. Winter Chill Snickerdoodles (From Woodchuck Hard Cider)

4. Cider Chocolate Chip Cookies (From Tess Jewell-Larsen of Hard Cider International)

5. Ginger Cookies with Cider Frosting (From Angry Orchard)

6. Cranberry Quinoa Cookies (From Katie Meehan of The Cider Kitchen)

Photos are courtesy of respective blogs or companies. Remember to #pickcider during your holiday season!


Eat This…

Drink That…

Poulet á la Normande
From Francis Lam of The New York Times

Vodka Cranberry
From Seattle Cider Company

Photo Credit: Gentl and Hyers for The New York Times.
Food stylist: Maggie Ruggiero.
Prop stylist: Jerrie Joy

Photo Credit: Seattle Cider Company