Hard Cider Newsletter

A Community Cider Released Just In Time For The Holidays!

Honey Moon Mead & Cider announced the release of their 2016 Bellingham Extra CiderHead, the delicious result of a community-focused project that aims to capture the essence of Bellingham (WA) in a bottle. Now in its second year, this unique and particularly local hard cider blend is made from apples grown all over Bellingham city, quite literally in their own backyards. This year’s vintage contains dozens of different varieties of apples, including Spartan, Snow, Melrose, King, Akane, Gravenstein and Jonagold, as well as many mystery varieties from wild or heirloom trees.

Favorable growing conditions this year produced a bumper crop of tree fruit, and local residents with “extra” apples on their hands have been eager to participate in the project. During the harvest season the folks at Honey Moon collected more than 12,000 pounds of local fruit that would otherwise have gone unused. Contributors received vouchers for a portion of the finished cider to be redeemed at Honey Moon any time.

“We were overwhelmed by the response,” says Murphy Evans, Honey Moon’s owner and the driving force behind the project. “People were dropping off buckets and boxes full of apples at our shop, and the phone was ringing off the hook for our crew to come and harvest trees. It’s been really fantastic.”

Six tons of apples yielded about 1,000 gallons of juice, all of it pressed at Honey Moon’s facility in downtown Bellingham, which is bursting at the seams this time of year. Evans worked with a local machinist to design and build a custom press expressly for the purpose.

“The press was designed to be mobile, so we could roll it onto the patio where we have more room to work. The added bonus was that folks could watch the press in action, and even toss a few of their own apples into the hopper if they wanted to. It made the community connection that much stronger,” continued Evans.

The final product has been carefully tended to produce a one-of-a-kind cider that reflects the climate, terroir and spirit of Bellingham in 2016. To celebrate its release, Honey Moon threw a release party on Small Business Saturday – perfectly fitting – with tours, tastings, special apple-themed treats, and music by Bilongo Quintet.

The 2016 Bellingham Extra CiderHead (4.5% ABV) will be available in 22oz. bottles for a suggested retail price of $8.00/bottle and on tap at Honey Moon as well as area stores and restaurants, while supplies last. As a way of giving back to the community that helped make it possible, Honey Moon will donate a portion of the proceeds to the Bellingham Public Schools Foundation.

For more information, visit CiderHead.com. Photos courtesy of Honey Moon Mead & Cider.


The Very Best of Thanksgiving in Food & Beverage

This month the United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) announced its Pick Cider campaign that encourages consumers in a fun and engaging way to serve cider. The Pick Cider campaign was launched just before the Thanksgiving holiday, a time typically associated with increased sales volume for cider, to give consumers ample time to purchase their ciders and find recipes to replace ingredients for hard cider.

The Pick Cider campaign highlighted the enjoyment of serving cider with a traditional Thanksgiving meal including:

  • Cider celebrates apples, a traditional harvest product. This pairs well with the flavors of traditional harvest-themed dinner food items

  • Cider is food-friendly

  • Cider is typically lower in alcohol than wine, so more varieties can be paired and sampled with the various courses that make up a typical dinner

  • Cider has incredible range – from dessert styles like ice cider to bone dry ciders. Different cider styles can be paired with appetizers, entrees and desserts

  • “Sessionable” ciders are perfect for enjoying while watching football games

As the writers of Hard Cider News followed #pickcider on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, producers, retailers and consumers alike all showcased delicious dishes containing hard cider that made eyes and stomachs widen. Below are some recipes that Hard Cider News came across to put together quite a meal from start to finish with hard cider during every course:

For additional information on suggested cider pairings, recipes and more visit PickCider.com or follow #pickcider on social media platforms. Please continue to ‘pick cider’ through the entire holiday season and year-round. You can support your local agricultural community by purchasing locally-sourced ciders which can be found in most areas of the country.

Photos courtesy of Heather Schmitt-Gonzalez of All Roads Lead to the Kitchen, Michelle Hooton of Bite By Michelle, Lauren Grier of Climbing Grier Mountain, Michelle Rollins of New Leaf Eats, Jack’s Hard Cider, and Sonoma Cider.


Vermont Cider Company Enters Ultra-Premium Cider Segment

Vermont Cider Company™ announced its first entrants into the ultra-premium cider segment – Addison, a year-round style, and Wassail, a barrel-aged seasonal.

Named for Addison County, where it is produced, Addison is crafted from 100 percent fresh pressed juice sourced only from Vermont and Northeastern orchards.

“Addison is a semi-dry cider, but it is so much more,” said Bridget Blacklock, Vermont Cider Co. Director of Marketing. “It’s where we are from. Addison is Vermont. It’s where we craft what we believe is the finest cider in the world.”

“For this flagship cider, we used premium yeasts and longer, cooler fermentations to capture and promote the delicate fresh apple flavors, with no added sugar,” said Ben E. Calvi, Director of Cider Making. “Addison is the ideal cider for consumers seeking drier options with strong, authentic roots.”

While Addison will be available year-round, Wassail is the first of several limited-edition, barrel-aged ciders that will be offered. Wassail will be in the market seasonally from December – February.

Wassail is inspired by the age-old tradition of celebrating with the orchards to ensure a good crop. Wassail begins with small batch hard cider infused with traditional mulling spices, including vanilla bean, ginger and cinnamon. The cider is then aged in rum barrels to produce a unique, rich cider that is ideal for the holidays. Like Addison, Wassail is made only from 100 percent fresh pressed Vermont and Northeastern apples.

Initially offered exclusively in the Northeast beginning December 1st, Addison (5% ABV) will retail for $10.99 for a 12oz 6-pack and will also be available in 5.2 gallon kegs. Come January 1st, the cider will also be available in 16oz can 4-packs. Wassail (6.9% ABV) will also retail for $10.99 per 12oz 4-pack.

For additional information, check out Vermont Cider Co on Facebook. Photos courtesy of Vermont Cider Company.


Carlton Cyderworks Releases Three Premium Ciders

As the 2016 apple harvest draws to a close, Carlton Cyderworks announced the release of three premium ciders, available to the public for the first time Thanksgiving weekend. A special release party was even held on ‘Black Friday’ and ‘Small Business Saturday’ at Carlton Cyderwork’s newest orchard, in Dayton (OR) to kick-off the holidays with cider.

“We are incredibly excited to share our new premium ciders, and to have celebrated this release with our first ever orchard party. As cider consumption has grown, we have seen the demand from cider drinkers for more complex and refined ciders. We hope to impress such cider aficionados with our new premium ciders and perries,” said Keenan Bailey, CEO of Carlton Cyderworks.

The three new ciders, available in 750mL bottles, include the following:

  • Summer Set: A 50/50 blend of Dolgo Crab apples and heirloom Gravensteins, this cider is wonderfully tart and full of character and zest. A wild fermentation adds further depth and charm.

  • Sidra Natural: A homage to the storied cider regions of Asturias and the Basque Country of Northern Spain, Sidra Natural offers tangy, sharp, acetic notes, along with a full tannic body and mouthfeel.

  • Asian Pear: The first completely dry perry produced by Carlton Cyderworks, this perry allows cider drinkers to experience a unique fruit unadulterated by other fruits or flavors. Hosui, 20th Century, and Shinsheiki, Asian pear varieties were sourced from a nearly wild orchard in Oregon’s Umpqua Valley to provide the juice base.

More information about Carlton Cyderworks and the new ciders, please visit CarltonCyderworks.com. Photos courtesy of Carlton Cyderworks via Instagram.



Angry Orchard and Eden Specialty Cider Release Collaboration Cider

Angry Orchard and Eden Specialty Cider announced the release of Understood in Motion 01, a new collaboration cider born of friendship among two Northeast cider makers, as well as a shared commitment to raising awareness of the American cider industry. This cider is Angry Orchard's first American collaboration. Additional Understood in Motion ciders, named for the motion of apple harvest and the cider making process, are already in the works for next year.

Collaborations like this, which are rare in the cider industry, give cider makers the opportunity to combine techniques and favorite ingredients to develop something completely new, allowing drinkers to think about hard cider in a new light. The cider was debuted at a James Beard House Dinner in New York City, and became available to purchase at Angry Orchard in Walden, NY earlier this month to coincide with National Cider Day (November 18).

"One of our main goals is to raise awareness of the cider industry in the United States, and this is a goal our friends at Eden share," said Ryan Burk, Head Cider Maker at Angry Orchard. "Their cider makers make some of the world's best ice ciders and I've always admired their approach. With this collaboration, we were able to combine our techniques to create something completely new and, in the process, help push American cider forward."

The decision to make this cider came about when Ryan and Eden’s Eleanor Leger were hanging out in New York City after a cider event, talking about cider and apples, and how there just aren’t a lot of collaborations in the cider industry. Each known for different styles of cider, they decided it’d be interesting to bring their techniques together. Eden is known for its ice ciders, which are sweet and apple-forward, and made from Vermont heirloom apples. Angry Orchard makes a variety of ciders, including specialty ciders available only at the Innovation Cider House, its home for research and development, as well as ciders available more broadly. Its most popular cider, Angry Orchard Crisp Apple is made with bittersweet and culinary apples from Europe, and strikes a perfect balance between sweet and dry. Understood in Motion 01lands somewhere in between – it's semi-dry and drinkable – still, like wine – and meant to be shared among friends.

"At its root, this collaboration was inspired by apples and the cider makers who care about them," says Eleanor Leger, Founder and CEO of Eden Specialty Cider. "It was an honor to come together with Angry Orchard, a leader within the cider community, to create something completely new that was true to both of our techniques."

Together, the cider makers carefully chose specific heirloom apple varieties from Vermont including Ananas Reinette and D’Arcy. Eden pressed the apples and fermented the juice at its cidery and then sent it down to Angry Orchard’s Innovation Cider House. There, the cider was fermented slowly to dryness and spent six months aging – some of it in stainless steel tanks and some in used Calvados barrels. At that point, Eleanor visited Ryan at the cider house for final blending. Together, they worked to blend in different amounts of a three-year old ice cider from Eden to achieve a perfectly balanced finished cider.

The cider is a semi-dry with balanced acidity and is low in tannins. It has an overripe, baked apple flavor with notes of honey and a light floral aroma. There are some oak and spirits flavor notes from the time it spent aging in Calvados barrels. Understood in Motion 01, with an 8% ABV, goes well with savory main dishes like roasted rosemary chicken and is delicious with spicy gamey meats.

Understood in Motion 01 is available in 750mL bottles at the Angry Orchard Innovation Cider House in Walden, NY only for $25.00 per bottle, while quantities last. For additional information on Angry Orchard, please visit AngryOrchard.com. For additional information on Eden Specialty Cider, please visit EdenIcedCider.com. Photos courtesy of Angry Orchard.


Kaneb Orchards Wins Gold in World Cider Championships

Kaneb Orchards, a small apple orchard in Northern New York, near the Canadian border, has been making waves in the ever growing popularity of hard cider. The company’s two hard ciders, Cranberry Crisp Cider and St. Lawrence Cider, both won gold achievements in the recent World Cider Championships sponsored by Tastings.com. This is the third year since Kaneb Orchards started producing hard cider on the family-owned orchard, and has consistently placed at the top of many competitions around the globe since the beginning.

The focus for Kaneb Orchards is producing small-batched cider that is easy to drink and not too sweet.  Their initial goal behind the now four ciders Kaneb Orchards makes is to make a cider that everyone will want to drink and educate the public on cider.

Over 50 years ago, the elder Edward Kaneb started planting apples trees as a hobby. The trees produced high quality apples and were plentiful so the family made a business by selling the apples to local cider mills for pressing. Years of trucking the apples to other parts of New York got expensive with fuel costs, so in 2009 they made the decision to start pressing their own cider. Edward Kaneb Jr. and his sister Elizabeth Kaneb invested in equipment, took classes, and got their feet wet in pressing and bottling fresh cider. With over 35 varieties of apples, the cidery began making delicious and popular fresh cider.

With the popularity and resurgence of hard cider over recent years, the natural next step for the Kanebs was to learn the craft of making hard cider. After taking hard cider making classes at Cornell University, under the direction of Peter Mitchell, the Kaneb Family fermented their first batches of hard cider. Experimenting with different apples, yeast and blending, the company began bottling soon after. The first of two ciders released was St. Lawrence Cider, a medium sweet apple cider with 5% ABV that is a clear, crisp, elegant cider. The second cider released was the Cranberry Crisp Cider with 5% ABV. The proximity to a large local cranberry bog helped make this cider possible. Kaneb Orchards presses the fresh cranberries into juice and then blends with the fermented cider. This medium sweet, refreshing and mouthwatering cranberry flavor cider has excellent balance.

Now in 2016, Kaneb Orchards Hard Cider has won multiple gold medals and rankings at competitions around the country including the New York Food & Wine Classic, New Yok State Fair, Drink Outside the Grape, The Big E Northeast, Great Lakes Cider & Perry Competition, Indy International Wine Competition, and the World Cider Championships.

The World Cider Championships is produced in collaboration with the World Beer Championships. The medal-based competition is open to all commercially produced beers and ciders from around the world and relies on a blind tasting methodology developed by Tastings.com. Beers and ciders are rated on a 100-point quality scale. Those products achieving a score from 90-95 are deemed Gold Medal winners and considered “exceptional” choices, while products achieving a score from 80-84 are deemed Bronze Medal winners and considered “recommended” options. Tastings.com issued the following reviews of Kaneb Orchard’s Hard Ciders:

  • St. Lawrence Cider (93 points) – “Pale straw green color. Aromas and flavors of dried apple and pear, cashew brittle, and floral honey with a velvety, bright, fruity light-to-medium body and a smooth, intricate, long spiced apples and pears, fresh fruit salad, meadow dew, and hint of vanilla bean finish. A beguiling, elegant cider with great purity and finesse.”

  • Cranberry Crisp Cider (93 points) – “[Rose] gold color. Aromas and flavors of cranberry soda bread, waxy honeycomb, and cream cheese with a supple, racy, effervescent, off-dry medium-to-full body and a silk, refreshing, medium-long raspberry-cranberry sorbet, grass, and mineral water finish. A pure, mouthwatering cranberry flavored cider with excellent balance.”

  • Raquette River Cider (83 points) – “Pale straw green color. Aromas and flavors of apple puff pastry and lemon bar with a silky, crisp, fruity light body and a seamless, swift apple seltzer and lettuces finish. A light, easy-breezy cider.”

To learn the complete Tastings.com methodology, please visiting Tastings.com. Kaneb Orchards Hard Cider is available to purchase in New York at liquor and wine stores, as well as select restaurants. Availability and information on Kaneb Orchards Hard Cider can be found at KanebOrchards.com. Photos courtesy of Kaneb Orchards.


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Sweet Potato Shepard’s Pie
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Captain Cider
From Captain Morgan

 Photo Credit: Katie Meehan

 Photo Credit: Captain Morgan