Hard Cider Newsletter

Sonoma Cider Releases Three New Ciders and Opens Taproom

Sonoma Cider, the award-winning brand, crafting distinctive, certified organic hard ciders, announced the addition of three new ciders to its portfolio – The Imperial, a full-bodied, barrel-aged and fermented cider with rich whiskey sweetness – and The Winter Mix 4-Pack, comprised of two ciders, The Sleigh and The Cutter. Whether served alongside a holiday dinner or enjoyed fireside after a day on the slopes these ciders are nothing short of festive.

Sonoma Cider’s The Imperial is part of the brand’s “Cidermaker Reserve” series, a collection of unique flavors that are created with finesse and careful selection dedicated to the cider connoisseur. For this select cider, fresh organic apple juice is blended with eucalyptus honey and fermented and aged in whiskey barrels for six months. The result is a “king of ciders,” with all the best elements from the whiskey barrels along with sweet, caramel notes courtesy of the eucalyptus honey. Additionally, as part of the “Cidermaker Reserve” series each extraordinary, distinctive cider is individually bottled, wrapped and signed by Cidermaker and VP of Operations, Robert Cordtz. The Imperial is available in 500 ml bottles and 5.16 gallon kegs – ABV is 10.3%. This cider retails for $12.99 per 22 oz. bottle.

The Sonoma Cider Winter Mix 4-Pack features The Sleigh and The Cutter ciders for $23.96 per pack. The Sleigh incorporates seasonal spices such as all-spice, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg combined with organic apple cider. The aromas of warm apple pie followed by buttery cinnamon notes on the nose are sure to conjure up some Yuletide memories. The Sleigh is available in 22 oz. bottles and 5.16 gallon kegs – ABV is 5.5%.

The Cutter captures the best of fresh baked gingerbread – bright, light aromas of ginger, with well-rounded notes of molasses and spiced baked apples in the body. It’s the perfect companion for the holiday season. The Cutter is available in 22 oz. bottles and 5.16 gallon kegs – ABV is 5.5%.

Sonoma Cider also announced the opening of its first brick-and-mortar taproom, giving a home to all Sonoma Cider fans near and far. Located in Healdsburg, CA (a block south of Healdsburg Square) and led by Sonoma Cider’s Founders, David and Robert Cordtz, the concept is a reflection of the brand’s philosophy, where craft, authenticity and enjoyment reign supreme.

“Our taproom and restaurant were designed around ideas: honest simplicity, authentic materials, and a rural and relaxed environment,” said David Cordtz, co-founder, CEO and Cidermaster of Sonoma Cider. “We are thrilled to offer locals and travelers alike a comfortable and informal space to enjoy our craft small batch ciders thoughtfully paired with delicious food in our quintessential wine country setting.”

Guests can expect a wide variety of craft ciders (23 taps in total) including micro-releases, experimental batches and exclusive flavors from Sonoma Cider, as well as artisanal ciders from around the world. Several Sonoma Cider micro releases are available exclusively in the taproom including Gravenstein produced with 100% Sonoma County Gravenstein apples, Golden Delicious featuring fruit exclusively from nearby De La Montanya vineyards, and Banaweizen fermented with Hefeweizen yeast and bananas. Local beer and wine will also be available.

Executive Chef Matthew Hodson features French and Basque influenced cuisine which pairs exquisitely with the unique cider flavors. Small plates include: raw and smoked oysters, charcuterie and fromage boards, house pickles, cider brined olives and deviled duck eggs. Entrees include: crab bisque, pork meatball bahn mi, trip-tip dip, nicoise salad, apple-chicken-crab risotto, chicken Normandy, pate en crote, and a selection of sweet and savory crepes.

“The taproom will give us the opportunity to taste and formulate obscure and exciting ciders that have come to define our distinctive, handcrafted brews,” said Robert Cordtz. “Where else can you taste cider spiced with organic habanero peppers, rhubarb or sarsaparilla roots paired with Chef Matthew’s extraordinary cuisine.”

Built on the southern edge of the historic Healdsburg Town Plaza, Sonoma Cider Taproom & Restaurant is a collaboration between Dreiling Terrones Architecture and Lorraine Alexander Interior Design. The 5,500 square-foot taproom and restaurant opens out to a large 1,800-square foot exterior dog-friendly patio, which comfortably seats 35 people and features an outdoor fire pit, heat lamps, and overhead music. Rollup glass doors welcome guests into the industrial sleek, minimalist warehouse space which seats 60 indoors. Interior design details include visible and operational fermentation tanks, an oversized concrete bar, red barn fixture lights, polished concrete floors and bench seating. Rich deep earth tones with splashes of color are enhanced by the texture of stained ash wood, steel and concrete throughout the space.

The taproom and restaurant fuse exceptional quality with spirit, highlighting all that makes Sonoma Country truly unique. The space showcases live music, local talent, comedy and more, providing a lively space for guests. Cornhole and a giant Jenga board are available for the lighthearted looking for entertainment. The venue can accommodate private events up to 175 people, helping to fill a void for large capacity events in Healdsburg.

Sonoma Cider Taproom & Restaurant is located at 44F Mill Street, Healdsburg, CA (behind Mill Street Antique and The Parish Café) and is open daily for lunch 11am-3pm and dinner 5pm-9pm. Happy hour is offered daily from 3pm-5pm. Tours are available Friday and Saturday from 11am-2pm. For reservations, please contact 707-723-7018.

For more information and a list of retailers for the new ciders, plus taproom photos and details, please visit SonomaCider.com. Photos courtesy of Sonoma Cider.


Bold Rock Hard Cider Announced New Blood Orange Seasonal

Bold Rock Hard Cider announced the launch of their newest fall and winter seasonal, Blood Orange, to be released November 1. Bold Rock Blood Orange is a blend of blood orange juice and locally harvested Blue Ridge apples, featuring the light and refreshing apple cider finish that Bold Rock devotees have come to expect coupled with a crisp tartness and tangy citrus brightness of blood orange.

This newest seasonal cider style nicely balances sweetness to ensure a smooth, dry finish, making it easy to drink on its own or as a perfect complement to meals. With the all-natural process, each bottle has a distinct cloudy orange haze sure to remind many of freshly squeezed orange juice.

Bold Rock Blood Orange is the most recent in an expanding roster of locally crafted hard ciders which can now be found throughout the East Coast from Pennsylvania to Georgia. This is the third seasonal Bold Rock has released in 2016.

Chief Operations Officer of Virginia Eagle Distributing Company, Scott Heinz, said, “Bold Rock Hard Ciders’ seasonal lineups have exceeded my expectations. Their innovation and seasonal roll outs have been one of the best I have seen.”

For more information on Bold Rock Blood Orange and the Bold Rock company, please visit BoldRock.com. Photo courtesy of Bold Rock.


Crispin Cider Innovates with New Bourbon Char Cask-Aged Limited Release

Crispin Cider Company is committed to bringing the very best hard cider to fans seeking unique, authentic flavors. Now in its seventh year, the cider company proudly announced an extension of its barrel-aged program with Bourbon Char, a bourbon cask-aged hard apple cider finished with a smoked maple syrup. The limited release is inspired by bourbon's sweet and smoky flavor, which pairs naturally with apples. In addition to the new selection, Crispin now offers the beloved Original and Pacific Pear flavors in 6-pack bottles, making the ciders even more accessible to fans.

Crispin ciders are naturally fermented using the raw, unpasteurized juice of fresh-pressed American apples and pears from Washington and Oregon. Through classic cold fermentation and specially selected wine yeasts, Crispin ciders retain the authenticity of native fruit flavors that is only present in hard cider made from fresh-pressed fruit. In an effort to bring a premium cider experience to even more drinkers, the cidery will now offer two of its mainstay varieties, Original and Pacific Pear, in packages of six bottles.

"We're committed to making an impact on the cider category, as evidenced by our continued flavor innovation," says Anup Shah, marketing director for Crispin Cider Company. "Also, with our shift to 6-pack bottles, we are making Crispin as accessible as possible to drinkers everywhere."

New Bourbon Char, with a 6.9% ABV, offers cider drinkers an apple variety with a touch of smoke and brown sugar sweetness, finished with smoked maple syrup. The appearance is cloudy, golden sunflower color. Aroma is that of strong bourbon and oaky character with a faint background of hickory sweetness. Strong bourbon characters on the front palate give way to an apple taste with a kiss of brown sugar sweetness and smoky char balanced by delicate oaky astringency. For a mouthfeel, the cider is silky with mouthwatering acidity steadied by the tannic drying notes of the oak. The finish has lasting edges of bourbon with quick smoke and sweet apple. Bourbon Char is available in select locations nationally for a limited time sold in 22-ounce bottles.

"Fans of Crispin have come to know our ciders for their high quality but have come to love them because of our innovation," says Victoria Tonini, Crispin signature cider creator. "With Bourbon Char, we hope cider drinkers will be pleasantly surprised by the uniquely smoky, yet subtly sweet apple cider. The limited release offers our fans another refreshing, yet complex flavor to elevate their drinking and dining occasions."

For more information about Crispin's complete line of ciders, go to CrispinCider.com.


Ciderboys Introduces New Blackberry Wild Hard Cider

It was only a matter of time before the Ciderboys got around to blending blackberries with crisp apple cider to create yet another tempting “fruitful pairing.”

That day has come, because wherever Ciderboys hard ciders are sold you will now find a brand new path to unimaginable fresh fruit flavors with Ciderboys Blackberry Wild, a delicious blend of crisp apple and plump, ripe, sweet blackberries you might find while hiking a wild forest trail. This new fall seasonal is available from September through the end of November on draft and in six-packs of 12-ounce longneck bottles.

Why blackberries? “Blackberries pair with apple cider just as well as other berries,” said Julie Birrenkott, Ciderboys’ Marketing Manager. “Ciderboys already offers refreshing Raspberry Smash, Cranberry Road, Strawberry Magic and Royal Blueberry hard ciders, which our loyal customers love, so we decided to take a walk on the wild side and add Blackberry Wild to our family.”

Ciderboys Cider Co.’s unique “fruitful pairings,” blend unexpected fresh fruit flavors with the crisp taste of apple cider produced from fresh Washington State apples, and that’s the recipe for Blackberry Wild, too. Chief Cidermaker Gabe Hopkins and his team blend pure blackberry juice at the fermentation stage and add more just before packaging. The flavor result is sweetness with a layer of tartness, according to Gabe.

“One very nice thing about Blackberry Wild is that when you open a bottle or pour a glass, it floods the room with a pleasant blackberry aroma,” he said. “When you taste it, you’ll get blackberry on the front of the palate, and then it finishes with crisp, tart apple cider.”

For more information and where to find Ciderboys products, visit Ciderboys.com. Photos courtesy of Ciderboys Cider.


Seattle Cider Company Merger with French Farmer-Run Cooperative Agrial

Seattle Cider Company and Two Beers Brewing announced a merger with French farmer-run cooperative Agrial. The two Seattle based companies – which share the same leadership team and have seen immense growth over the past few years – will continue to operate independently in Seattle, while merging with the leading French cider producer.

The merger and further partnership will help Seattle Cider Company and Two Beers Brewing grow through Agrial’s international distribution network, gaining access to developing craft beer and cider communities around the world. It will also allow for needed capital expansion projects for the growing brewery and the cidery. Additionally, the partnership provides Agrial with the opportunity to gain access to the American craft cider and beer market, as well as distribute a selection of its French cidre brand, Louis Raison, to the US.  

“The amazing growth and expansion we’ve seen over the past three years has taken us by surprise, and as I looked at where I wanted to take Seattle Cider Company and Two Beers Brewing into the future, I knew we would need a partner to be able to achieve our long term goals,” said Joel VandenBrink, founder and CEO of Seattle Cider Company and Two Beers Brewing. “Agrial has impressed me with their belief in our mission and vision, and even more so with their desire to support Seattle Cider Company and Two Beers Brewing Co. as we continue to grow our brands the way we have in the past.”

Through the partnership, Seattle Cider Company, Two Beers Brewing and Agrial remain dedicated to product quality, as well as maintaining the culture and dedication to craft built by Seattle Cider Company and Two Beers Brewing. Seattle Cider Company and Two Beers Brewing will continue to operate independently in Seattle, maintaining control of the day-to-day operations. Joel VandenBrink, founder of both companies, will remain as CEO. Leadership, staff, brewers, cidermakers, distributors and most importantly, the beer and cider people have come to know and love from the two companies will also remain the same.

“Seattle Cider Company has changed the face of cider in the United States in the past three years and it’s been exciting to watch. We’re thrilled to now be a part of it, and watch the companies continue to push the boundaries of cider and beer in the US and beyond. We feel strongly about the success of these brands, and share the same vision and mindset Joel has set forth for the companies,” added Franck Malinowski, the historical CEO of Agrial’s beverage division.

Seattle Cider Company, which celebrated three years in August, has quickly grown to become Washington’s largest cidery, seeing an expected production of 21,000 barrels in 2016. Now available in 12 states, it continues to push the boundaries of craft cider. Two Beers Brewing, nearing its ninth anniversary in November, continues to grow as one of Seattle’s beloved craft breweries, expecting to reach 8,000 barrels in 2016.

Famous for traditional French cidre, as well as a variety of brands valuing farmer developed products, Agrial is the number one cidre producer and seller in France. One of its missions is to support entrepreneurs transforming apples into value-added beverages and apples products. Owned by a large community of growers, Agrial offers more than 100 years of experience, a dedicated quality and innovation team, and distribution connections in more than 30 countries.

Cascadia Capital is serving as exclusive financial advisor to Two Beers Brewing and Seattle Cider Company in the transaction, while Miller Nash is serving as legal counsel.

For more information about the joint venture and thoughts from Joel VandenBrink, founder of Two Beers Brewing and Seattle Cider Company, visit the company’s websites at SeattleCiderCompany.com and TwoBeersBrewing.com.  Photos courtesy of Seattle Cider Company.


Schilling Cider Releases Hatch Chile Hard Cider

Seattle’s Schilling Cider released its much-anticipated Hatch Chile hard cider collaboration with local rising-star hot sauce company, Bonache Chile Sauces, located in Ballard, Washington. 

August through mid-September is Hatch Chile season. This selectively bred pepper was pioneered, at the now Chile Pepper Institute, at New Mexico State University in 1894. Infamously versatile and culturally iconic, the Hatch Chile has managed to stay off the artisan-foodie radar until now. Bonache is using their Hatch Chile Sauce to help shed some light on this amazingly flavorful pepper. Uniquely inspired by the bold cuisines of Belize, Bonache uses only fresh, and natural ingredients in all of their products… a shared company ethos and flavor profile that Schilling Cider can’t ignore.

This year, Schilling Cider partnered with Bonache and used their Hatch Chile Sauce to create a truly balanced, flavorful, and unique hard cider. The Hatch Chile Cider starts with bright, clean, and slightly sweet apple notes, and follows through with a sneaky heat from the Hatch, Hot Green, and Ghost Peppers with none of the earthiness typically associated with a pepper alcohol beverage.

Hatch is primarily available in the Arizona market, while quantities last. Likely, because of its success, Seattle Cider will make a larger run of the cider next ‘hatch’ season.

For more information about Hatch cider and Schilling Hard Cider Company, please visit SchillingCider.Com. Photos courtesy of Schilling Cider.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Pumpkin-Hard Cider Cheese Dip
From Food Network Kitchen

The Grave Digger Cocktail
From Toni Dash of Boulder Locavore

 Photo Credit: Kana Okada

 Photo Credit: Toni Dash