Hard Cider Newsletter

Five Picks for Unique (and Delicious) Ciders

Those who say all cider tastes the same have clearly never explored their options when it comes to the hard cider market, or have not been drinking the right types of ciders. From dry and complex to fruity infusions, there are quickly becoming as many variations of cider as there are of craft beer. These five ciders serve as a taste to demonstrate some of the creativity and complexity of hard cider from all around the world in the market today:

Old Mout, Passion Fruit Cider – This cider features a fruit infusion not often seen in the market, passion fruit! Pouring a clear pale color with medium carbonation and 5% ABV, Old Mout brings ripe passion fruit and a slight sweetness on the nose followed by a complex balance of sweet and sour all which compliment a great apple taste. This New Zealand based company has quite a variety of ciders from boysenberry to cranberry. Visit OldMoutCider.com for additional information.

Brothers Cider, Toffee Apple
– This one is definitely a unique cider although cider is not the first thing that comes to mind upon the first sip, thoughts of dessert are present before this cider even touches your lips. Toffee Apple is without a doubt on the sweet side, with a 4% ABV, a clear golden color, and sweet caramel and toffee aromas. Many notes can be picked out, from sweet dessert apples to caramel and even notes of cream soda. Brothers has six more ciders in their lineup and are based out of Somerset, England. Check out Brothers at BrothersCider.co.uk.

Number 6 Cider Company, Cold Brew Coffee Cider – Who would have thought to combine coffee and cider? The result is a delicious tasting cider with defined coffee notes and wonderful apple notes while managing to not muddle the two together. Number 6 Cider Company, based out of Seattle, Washington is the creation of Tom Todaro, who opened the cidery only one year ago. The cider comes in at 6% ABV and has an unmistakable coffee aroma introduced by the Stumptown cold brew coffee the cider was made with. While this cider is made with cold brew coffee, the cider remains a clear golden color, which adds to the drinks mystery. This cider is a must try for any coffee fans, or any cider lover for that matter. Check out Number 6 Cider Company at 6Cider.com. Photo courtesy of Kristyn Dolan.

B. Nektar, The Dude’s Rug – As a tribute to one of the greatest cult films, B. Nektar has come up with a deliciously balanced cider combined with chai tea which is as “chill” and out there as “The Dude” himself. The cider is a clear dark amber color with an aroma of apples and traditional chai spices such as clove and cardamom. The Dude’s Rug perfectly balances a spiced tea flavor with sweet apple notes on the palette. B. Nektar is based out of Ferndale, MI and is not only a cidery but also a meadery, creating some of the most interesting and innovative cider beverages. This cider comes in at 5.5% ABV. Visit B. Nektar’s website to learn about more of their ciders at BNektar.com.

Urban Farm Fermentory, Seaweed Cidah – A worthy addition to this list, Urban Farm’s Seaweed Cidah is an obscure but amazingly tasty cider made with real Maine seaweed. The cider is a pale cloudy straw color with a herbaceous note on the aroma and a tart, salty, apple flavor on the palette. This cider has similar characteristics to the gose style of beer with the addition of apple undertones. Urban Farm Fermentory is based out of Portland, Maine and specializes in hard cider, kombucha, and mead, which is why they deemed fermentory a more appropriate title than just cidery. Check out Urban Farm at Fermentory.com.

While not all of these ciders are available in every region or market, as a cider drinker, traveling and finding new ciders is half of the fun. Always keep an eye out for local ciders wherever you are and don’t forget to reach outside of your comfort zone when it comes to ciders, some of the diverse and unique options may surprise you! Photos from respective cider companies.

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


Seattle Cider Co. Releases Spring Seasonal Cider

Seattle Cider Company announced its popular line of seasonal ciders will now be available in the company’s signature 16-ounce cans. Kicking off the new can line will be the growing cidery’s spring seasonal, Basil Mint. Quickly becoming one of Seattle Cider Company’s most popular ciders, Basil Mint is light, refreshing, and slightly tart, made with an impressive 100 pounds each of fresh basil and mint per batch, making it the perfect accompaniment to warmer weather and the excitement of spring.

“People know us for dry, craft cider in 16-ounce cans and we’re thrilled to now be able to offer our seasonal in such an accessible format,” said Joel VandenBrink, Founder and CEO of Seattle Cider Company. “As the weather warms up, more people turn to the outdoors, and our cans are great for throwing in the backpack and bringing along. We continue to try and push the boundaries of cider, and can’t wait to see where people bring our Basil Mint.”

Offering 6.9% ABV and just 1.8 Brix, Seattle Cider Company’s spring seasonal begins with a base of 100 percent fresh pressed Washington apples, accompanied by 100 pounds of fresh basil and 100 pounds of fresh mint. Muddled on site, the basil and mint are then added directly to the cider during fermentation, creating an off-dry cider that starts savory and floral, perfectly complemented by a tart, clean finish. Offering an aroma and initial flavor of basil, this cider finishes with just a hint of mint.

Basil Mint, available through May, will be followed by Berry, Pumpkin Spice and Oaked Maple, each released with the season and all available in 16-ounce cans. These delicious ciders can be found on shelves and on draft throughout Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Illinosis, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Missouri, California, Denver (CO), and Austin (TX). The seasonal can joins the cidery’s two year-round ciders – Dry and Semi Sweet, available in 16-ounce cans – and two limited ciders, Three Pepper and Gin Botanical, available in 22-ounce bottles.

Seattle Cider Company’s year round and seasonal offerings break the mold of overly sweet cider, bringing the natural flavors of Washington apples to the forefront. Naturally gluten free and made from a custom blend of 100-percent fresh pressed Washington apples, Seattle Cider Company products are handcrafted with real ingredients, never from concentrate and free from artificial flavorings. For more information, follow Seattle Cider Company on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


Making Cider a Family Affair

With all the daily activities that take place on Wilson’s Orchard it is impressive that they have time to create hard cider, but no short cuts are taken when producing this cider, on the first sip, that becomes quite evident. Wilson’s Orchard is a family-owned operation that started in 1985 but the owner, Paul Rasch, is not new to the game.  Being a 4th generation farmer, Paul is well aware of how to make the soil work for him; so he decided to open his own orchard in Iowa City, IA. Wilson’s Orchard is really two separate orchards and is based on a 160-acre property with around 60-acres comprising of apple trees. One of the orchards is where all of the hard cider gets produced and is not open to the public, the other has a bakery, retail shop, u-pick and pre-picked apples for visitors to enjoy, as well as various animals that Paul and his family care for.

With 60 acres and over 30 different types of apples that can be used to create the hard cider Paul decided to start production on a hard cider that would not be made from concentrate and that would not have any added sugar, coloring, or chemicals.  While the orchard has been open since 1985, the hard cider only began to retail in September 2015. Wilson’s cider is available in 22oz bottles as well as on draft in kegs. Currently, Wilson’s Orchard has three varieties of hard cider that are their staple ciders:

  • Goldmine - This straight forward hard apple cider is made up of Gold Rush apples. It has a 6% ABV and is a light but deliciously refreshing cider with just the right amount of sweetness only brought on by the natural sugars from the apples used. This is a perfectly drinkable cider for any time of day or season as it is not at all overpowering in either tartness or sweetness.

  • Hoppleseed - A dry hopped cider that takes cider made with Jonathan apples and adds Citra hops to give it a signature earthy aroma and taste. This 6% ABV cider is perfect for any cider lover with its balance of tartness and bitterness enough for any IPA fan to appreciate.

  • Spiced Up - This take on a traditional style of cider is made by adding mulling spices to the cider to give it deliciously spicy notes of clove, cinnamon, and nutmeg.  This cider comes in at 6% ABV and creates the perfect balance of spicy, tart, and sweet notes. This is a perfect cider for a winter night by the fire or an excellent pairing for a beautiful fall afternoon.

With three great tasting ciders and a business where Paul gets to surround himself with his family, there is only one place to go from there, and the answer can be found in expansion. Paul is currently in the process of opening a retail cidery with plans of an October 2016 opening. This will hopefully make these three great ciders more widely available. Currently, Wilson’s Orchard’s distributor can only service retail locations in Iowa. With the new retail cidery getting built, Paul has big plans to bring new and interesting ciders to all the cider lovers out there. The future looks bright!

Check out Wilson’s Orchard at WilsonsOrchard.com or visit them at 4823 Dingleberry Rd. NE, Iowa City, IA 52240. Photos courtesy of New Pioneer Co-op.

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


2 Towns Ciderhouse Introduces Two Ciders That Herald Spring

This month, 2 Towns Ciderhouse released its spring seasonal, Cherried Away, a sour cherry and hibiscus hard cider. Made with fresh-pressed 100 percent Northwest apples, sour Montmorency cherries and whole hibiscus blossoms, the Cherried Away boasts bold flavors for a bright spring. With 150 pounds of hibiscus blossoms per batch, this 6% ABV cider is the perfect drink to pair with chevre and spring veggie tarts, as well as sun showers!

“Spring is filled with flowers, and sunshine that alternates with bursts of rain showers,” said Dave Takush, Head Cider Maker for 2 Towns Ciderhouse. “This is the spirit we chose to instill in Cherried Away – high floral notes, bright fruitiness and sour tartness.”

Also released this month, was 2 Towns Ciderhouse’s latest limited release, Sun’s Out Saison, the newest in rare, one-off ciders from the cidery. Sun’s Out Saison is made with tart, fresh-pressed Northwest apples fermented on peaches with an authentic French saison yeast. Roll up your sleeves, or better yet, rip ‘em off to get ready for this unfiltered, dry, slightly spicy and phenolic cider, with lots of big, clean, fresh-peach aromatics. Savor liquid sunshine from Oregon…

“Saison yeast lends very specific qualities to beer, qualities that we thought would be fantastic in cider,” said Takush. “We expected that its profile would complement the copious amounts of fruit – over 46 pounds of peaches per barrel of Sun’s Out Saison. We ended up with a cider that is complex, tart, and fruity with a classic saison nose.”

Sun’s Out Saison has been crafted in the traditional manner and inspired by golden peaches from Northwest farms. The fruitiness and complexity complement light dishes like spinach with cranberries and walnuts, asparagus quiche, a salad of poached egg with pancetta, and much more.

Cherried Away and Sun’s Out Saison will both be available to distributor partners in Oregon, Washington, California, Hawaii, Alaska, Idaho, Nevada, Minnesota and Chicago (IL) in 500ml bottles, 1/6 bbl. kegs and 1/2 bbl. kegs. Select chains and bottle shops will carry the two ciders in bottles. For more information on 2 Towns Ciderhouse, visit 2TownsCiderhouse.com. Photos courtesy of 2 Towns Ciderhouse.


Just One Sip, and You're Hooked

Imagination is a fundamental aspect of what Bishop Cider Company is built on. The mindset that there are plenty of other companies putting out traditional style ciders, is what made company owners Joel and Laura Malone decide that they wanted to do things just a little different. With no orchard, no farming background, and no previous cider making experience, Bishop Cider was born. 

Based out of Dallas, Texas, Bishop Cider Co. is the first cidery in the Dallas – Fort Worth area. When the two started the company in 2014, they were based in the bishop theater district, with no orchard backing their cider making production due to their geographic location; the owners used their local resources. Getting their ingredients from their local center market, and their supplies from their neighborhood home brew shop, Joel and Laura started small eventually working their way up to fill what became a 704 square foot production facility. Through trial and error, as well as rigorous sampling and taste-testing, the ciders came to be; though no ciders get put into the rotation without first passing Joel and Laura’s high standards. Due to their determination to never put out a mediocre or sub-par product, the word about their ciders started to grow.

The news spread about the quality cider coming out of this small cidery in the city and soon Bishop Cider Co. was put in a position where they needed to find a bigger location to keep up with the demand. In October of 2015, approximately one year after the company’s launch, Bishop Cider Co. opened their new production facility in Dallas, less then fifteen minutes from their original location. The new production facility being significantly bigger and boasting over 10,000 square feet, gave the company the room they needed to grow. Not wanting to walk away from the building and community that gave the company its start, Joel and Laura turned the original facility into Bishop Cider Company’s official tasting room while reserving the new production facility for cider making and staff only.  With a building solely dedicated to their loyal cider drinkers and guests, the cider company has more than enough room to welcome the masses as well as sell their delicious bottled cider to go. Besides draft, the cider also comes in 750 ml format bottles, where the company’s out of the box thinking still manages to continue onto their packaging; each label being even more interesting, artistic, and whacky than the last. Bishop Cider Co. certainly puts out a large number of ciders, and although it would be impossible to pick favorites, these were a few that stood out as rather interesting:

  • Crackberry – This lightly carbonated cider has perfect clarity and is deep red in color due to cranberry and blackberry. Coming in at 6% ABV, the cider has a fruity aroma on the nose and has a perfect balance between sweet and tart with notes of berry and apple. This article is called “just one sip and your hooked” because it is the tagline for this delicious cider.

  • Legendberry – This strawberry-infused cider with crystal clarity, deep red color and an even blend of semi- sweet apples has just the right tartness. It has a 6% ABV and features notes of apple and tart strawberry along with subtle back notes of berry in the finish.

  • Suicider – A golden cider that brings about notes of apple pie and baking spices on the nose with 6.5% ABV. This cider has a nice blend of spices from clove to nutmeg to cinnamon without the spices being overpowering; the apple notes are bright and present.

While these are only a small sample of the interesting ciders available at Bishop Cider Co., the tasting room is worth checking out as many more ciders can be found in constant rotation for patrons to indulge in. With ciders as creative as the company which brought them to existence, Bishop Cider Co. is a destination that is not to be missed.

Interested in finding out more about Bishop Cider Company? Visit them online at BishopCider.com or at their tasting room located at 509 N. Bishop Ave., Ste. C, Dallas, TX 75208. Photos courtesy of Bishop Cider Co.


Angry Orchard Introduces Orchard's Edge Series with Two New Hard Cider Styles

The cider makers at Angry Orchard announced national availability of their latest project, the Orchard’s Edge series. The first two hard ciders in the series – Knotty Pear and The Old Fashioned – hit shelves last month. This new series is inspired by unexpected ingredients and aging processes the cider makers have been working on at Angry Orchard’s new Innovation Cider House on its orchard in Walden, New York.

The hard cider industry has seen incredible growth over the past several years, and drinkers are embracing it as a refreshing alternative to beer or wine. As drinkers continue to rediscover the American cider tradition, they are interested in trying ciders with more complexity. Craft brewers have been experimenting with ingredients and processes for the past thirty years, and now that the cider drinker’s palate is also maturing, cider makers have the opportunity to push the limits and develop more complex ciders, like Orchard’s Edge.

The ciders in the Orchard’s Edge series are aged on American oak and feature non-apple fruits like pears and oranges along with exotic spices like cardamom, all meant to work with and enhance cider’s most important ingredient: the apple.

Below are some notes from the cider makers about the newest Orchard’s Edge ciders:

  • Orchard’s Edge Knotty Pear (6.5% ABV): While not a perry, Knotty Pear is made with a blend of domestic culinary pears, including Bartlett, Doyenne de Comice, Bosc and D’Anjou, and apples grown in the United States. The cider leads with ripe apple, baked pear aromas and spicy, herbal hints from the cardamom. The pears also give the cider a subtle spiced essence along with notes of citrus and mint. Aged on American oak, this cider has a pleasant, dry finish.

  • Orchard’s Edge The Old Fashioned (6.5% ABV): Developed from a blend of American apples like Gala and Fuji, The Old Fashioned is aged on charred oak bourbon barrel staves with dried tart cherries and California grown navel orange peel. The cider has a delicate citrus aroma with hints of vanilla and bourbon flavor from the wood aging process. The Old Fashioned has lasting tannins and a full, round mouthfeel.

“American cider has come a long way in the past few years, and we think it can be pushed even further. With Orchard’s Edge, we took our two decades of experience to create styles that represent what is next for cider,” said Ryan Burk, Head Cider Maker at Angry Orchard. “We had a lot of fun exploring different ingredients and techniques for these ciders at our Innovation Cider House, and ultimately found two combinations we hope will give drinkers a taste of all that craft cider can be.”

With Angry Orchard’s new home for research and development on the Angry Orchard, its 60-acre orchard in New York’s Hudson River Valley, the cider makers at America’s leading cidery are committed to furthering drinker education and broadening awareness of cider here in the U.S. Additional ciders will be added to the Angry Orchard and Orchard’s Edge lineup as the cider makers tinker with new ingredients and techniques at the orchard, and find recipes they love and want to share with drinkers.

Orchard’s Edge is available year-round in 6-packs for a suggested retail price of $10.99 (price varies per market). Both varieties will also be available on rotating draft in select bars and restaurants beginning spring 2016. Beginning Tuesday, April 26, 2016 and running through the fall, the Angry Orchard and Innovation Cider House will also be open for Angry Orchard cider samples (for visitors 21+) and complimentary self-guided tours Tuesday-Saturday from 11am-6pm. For more information about Angry Orchard, Orchard’s Edge, or visiting the Innovation Cider House, please visit AngryOrchard.com. Photos courtesy of Angry Orchard.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Chicken Thighs Braised in Hard Cider
From Mary Bilyeu of The Blade

The Mountain & The Viper
From Rebecca of Sugar & Soul

Photo Credit: Katie Rausch of The Blade

Photo Credit: Rebecca Hubbell