Hard Cider Newsletter

Starcut Ciders Announces Bottle Release of Semi-Sweet Peach Cider, Phuzz

Starcut Ciders, a division of Short’s Brewing Company, has released a new rotating hard cider, Phuzz, this month. Phuzz will be released in bottles first at the Short’s Brewing Company pub and Short’s Mart in Bellaire, MI and at the company’s Elk Rapids Production Facility Pull Barn with state-wide distribution thereafter. Phuzz will be distributed throughout Starcut’s expanded Great Lakes area footprint and in Colorado soon after. 

Phuzz (6.9% ABV) is a semi-sweet cider fermented with Michigan apples and peaches. The cider is a brilliantly clear amber-straw color and has aromas of fresh apple and peach. Phuzz is mildly tart and subtly sweet with flavors of bold apple and pleasant lingering peach.

According to Starcut’s Head Cider Maker, Tony Hansen, “As another amazing Northern Michigan summer comes to an end, we’re proud to capture the flavor of the peach harvest in Phuzz. I love the balance and complexity of blending apple and peach in this cider.” 

Like Starcut’s flagship brands, Octorock and Pulsar, and previous rotating releases, Squishy and Immortal Jelly, the label artwork for Phuzz was created by the legendary artist, Don Pendleton.

To find Starcut Ciders and learn more about Phuzz, please visit StarcutCiders.com. Photos courtesy of Starcut Ciders.


Breaking New Ground with New England Cider Co.

From California to Maine, cideries are popping up all over the United States. Connecticut is no exception with the opening of its first cider house, the New England Cider Company in Wallingford, Connecticut, which is located almost directly in the center of the state. The New England Cider Company opened its doors in August of 2014 to a state eagerly anticipating their own local cider.

Miguel Galarraga and Seth Hart, the owners and cider makers at New England Cider Company started on their cider journey when they got into home cider making for their personal enjoyment, even making their first cider press themselves.  Honing and realizing their cider making abilities, the pair started working at transitioning from their full time jobs as mechanics to full time cider making, while building a company that can support them. While this is a goal they are still working towards, the two say that goal will become a reality soon enough. New England Cider Company strives to bring its customers the freshest local ciders using only New England based ingredients and pressing 90% of the apples in house. The company sources their apples from two local orchards, Blue Hills Orchard and High Hill Orchard, both Connecticut based orchards. Other ingredients are sourced from Massachusetts and Vermont.

With the care that New England Cider Company takes in sourcing their ingredients, they must be careful not to add anything that interferes or covers the taste of those ingredients, which is why the company never adds any artificial ingredients or sweeteners to their cider.  Some of New England Cider Companies offerings include:

  • English Cider –This 6.7% ABV cider is fermented dry for a crisp tart character with only the pure flavor of the various fresh apples used coming through. The cider has a slightly funky nose which carries on into the taste but it is very mild and it differentiates this cider from other English style ciders.

  • Wet Hopped Cider – By blending together a drier cider and fresh cascade wet hops from Four Star Farm, a Massachusetts based farm, the company creates an aromatic, earthy cider with fresh apple notes. This cider comes in at 7% ABV.

  • Barrel Aged Cider – After much demand, New England Cider Company decided it was time to put out their first barrel-aged offering. Using rye whiskey barrels, the company ages their cider for six months which imparts delicious vanilla and coconut notes into the cider along with other subtle oak notes -9% ABV

  • Wild Cider – With a 7% ABV, this cider has very funky notes but a slightly sweet aroma. The Wild Cider is tart as well with dry apple qualities.

  • Lemon Tea Cider – This cider has a light lemon nose with light lemon and apple notes on the palette. The cider, with a 6.9% ABV is on the drier side. The lemon is refreshing and not overpowering.

While the ciders are currently available on draft only, New England Cider Company liquid can be purchased by the growler in their tasting room located at 110 North Plains Industrial Road in Wallingford, CT. The ciders can also be found at over 20 locations around Connecticut. For more information on New England Cider Company, check out their website at NewEnglandCider.com. Photos courtesy of Eric dos Reis.

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


Cider Maker and Vitner Collaborate for 'Make America Grape Again'

Just in time for Election Day, two New York State Farm beverage producers will release 'Make America Grape Again', a collaboration that celebrates farming innovation, freedom and grape-ness.

Kevin Collins, a first generation cider maker, entrepreneur, and self-proclaimed mad scientist at Cider Creek Hard Cider and Evan Miles, a third generation vitner at Miles Wine Cellars, have come together with a goal to promote innovation in cider and wine making as well as the importance of agriculture in New York State.

"When American farmers work together the results can be downright tasty," says Miles.

The cider features a Lemberger grape, saison ale yeast and champagne yeast. The grape variety is rich with raspberry, blackberry and plummy characters and is accented by a light peppery flavor. Wines made from this grape will typically have a light tannin level. The saison ale yeast adds citrus notes, earthy undertones and spice on the back end while maintaining the fruit of cider-wine. The champagne yeast adds to the effervescence of the cider-wine, compliments the existing tart notes, and leaves you with a smooth dry finish. The combination of both of these elements create a complex cider that is a light pink color.

This isn't the first collaboration for Collins, who prides himself on making cider more like how a brewer makes beer versus how a vitner makes wine. He has teamed up with New York State breweries including Resurgence Brewing Company, Swiftwater Brewing and Stoneyard Brewing to produce high-demand, small batch ciders. But, it is a first of its kind collaboration with a winery and one that Collins hopes will set an example for other producers.

"I'm constantly looking for ways to help move the craft beverage industry forward while staying on the cutting edge of cider making. It is also important to me to support local agriculture and to make sure that 100% of our ingredients are produced in New York State and are of the highest quality," says Collins.

Hard cider is making a huge resurgence across the country and in New York State because New York is the second largest apple producing state in the country. Collins continues to add, "This is a perfect opportunity to change the way that people think about hard cider and wine as Evan and myself are very progressive in our cider and wine making methods."

When asked why the name ‘Make America Grape Again’, both Collins and Miles will tell you that due to his entrepreneurial spirit and support for agriculture, Donald Trump is the best candidate to, "help us grow as businessmen, farmers and beverage producers."

For more information on this collaboration, please visit their websites: Cider Creek Hard Cider or Miles Wine Cellars.


Pour The Core: Hard Cider Festivals Coming to the Northeast this October

Pour the Core: A Hard Cider Festival will be returning to Long Island, Philadelphia and Boston this October with new cider producers and what will surely be contests to remember! The festival will be held the following dates and locations:

  • Long Island – October 1, 2016, 12:30pm-4:00pm, at LI Sports Park in Calverton, NY

  • Philadelphia – October 15, 2016, 12:30pm-4:00pm, at The Navy Yard in Philadelphia, PA

  • Boston – October 22, 2016, Session 1 from 12:00pm-3:30pm and Session 2 from 5:00pm-8:30pm, at Royale in Boston, PA

Attendees will enjoy refreshing and delicious samples from local, national and international cider producers, more than 75 ciders in all at each event!  Pour the Core will proudly showcase locally made ciders from each of the regions such as Woodside Hard Ciders (Aquebogue, NY), Furnace Spicy Hard Cider (Sag Harbor, NY) and festival first-timer Riverhead Ciderhouse (Calverton, NY) at the Long Island event. Cider producers such as Arsenal Cider House (Pittsburgh, PA), Big Hill Ciderworks (Gardners, PA), and festival first-timer Power Core Hard Cider (Coudersport, PA) will be among the ciders at the Philadelphia event. Lastly, local brands like Far From the Tree (Salem, MA), Bantam (Cambridge, MA), and Downeast Cider House (Boston, MA) will be participating in the Boston event. Tickets for the events are on sale at PourTheCore.com.

New this year, at each event there will be a contest taking place where a limited number of attendees will be given the opportunity to compete and show-off their donut or pie eating skills, but only one will earn bragging rights and win the prize package furnished by Hard Cider News and Starfish Junction, producers of the Pour The Core event. Ticketholders can register to become a contestant on each of the event websites or sign-up at the event if competitor slots remain. Each contest is limited to a certain number of competitors; a waitlist will be made though. For the Apple Cider Donut Eating Contest taking place at the Long Island and Boston events, all contestants will receive one apple cider donut hung from a string that hangs in the air. Contestants will have to eat the donut without the use of their hands. At the Philadelphia event, an Apple Pie Eating Contest will take place and each contestant will receive one apple pie that they will need to finish without the use of hands. Contests will be timed and the winner will be the contestant who finishes their donut/pie first at each event.

 “We’re super excited to bring this new contest element to the cider festivals,” said Event Manager Kristyn Dolan. “The contests are fun to do and fun to watch… and another way to showcase the star of the show, the beloved apple.”

The event is sure to impress both cider lovers and fun seekers alike.  The event will offer a unique line-up of ciders to sample, food available to purchase from some of various region’s popular food trucks, and several seminars on America’s historic beverage.  Award-winning Strongbow (England) will have a DJ spinning top hits from a chic lounge, and Woodchuck (Vermont) will be offering some amazing new ciders as they celebrate their 25th anniversary with the attendees. 

Each event benefits a local non-profit organization selected by the event producers. Attendees are encouraged to participate in on-site raffles and fun activities like cornhole, jumbo connect, and giant tumbling tower to help the organizations fundraise. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales will also go towards each organization’s wonderful work. 

Tickets ($45 GA) are on sale now and can be purchased at each event website.  Tickets include a five ounce souvenir tasting cup (sponsored by Woodchuck) and the freedom to enjoy two-ounce samples from any exhibitor. Designated driver tickets are available for $12 each.  This is a 21+ event.  Valid photo ID is required for entry. No children or pets permitted.  The events will take place rain or shine, both the Long Island and Philadelphia events are outside.  All ticket sales are final. 

Pour The Core is sponsored by Woodchuck Cider, Strongbow, Hard Cider News, Yelp and Cidercraft Magazine. Additional sponsors vary by location and include: Riverhead Ciderhouse, Woodside Orchards, The Subtle Tea Company, NorthForker.com, Frecon Farms, Cider Culture, The Town Dish, and Angry Orchard.

Please visit the following website for additional information and to purchase your tickets: PourTheCore.com/LongIsland, PourTheCore.com/Philly, and PourTheCore.com/Boston. Photos courtesy of Karl Mischler.


Portland Cider Company Introduces Passion Fruit Cider

Portland Cider Company announced the release of Passion Fruit cider, available year-round in 22oz bottles, while also debuting a refreshed packaging design. Tropically aromatic and bursting with bright green apple and floral flavors, this Passion Fruit cider is a one-of-a-kind. It’s bitter-tart passion fruit finish will leave you puckering for more! With 6.7% ABV and fragrant floral passion fruit notes this cider pairs beautifully with spicy-sweet items, such as fish tacos with mango salsa, yellow curry and Chinese food.

The release of this new cider provided Portland Cider Company the perfect opportunity to introduce a package refresh to their entire 22oz bottle line-up. Updated packing for Kinda Dry, Sorta Sweet and Pearfect Perry is hitting shelves now.

“Our goal for the new labels was to reflect the heritage and quality of our cider, with an eye-catching and inviting look,” says Portland Cider Company Owner Lynda Parrish. “We put our cider in these new clear bottles, instead of the brown bottles, so you can see the beautiful, amber color of our cider inside.”

Inspired by the Norman Rockwell illustrations, the label design includes depictions of the fruits used in the cider - namely authentic Northwest apples. The new Passion Fruit bottle features a beautiful passion fruit flower, with its bright purple and green colors popping off the label. With a bold white-washed wood background, colorful apple and flower imagery, plus new clear bottles, Portland Cider Company hopes the new bottles will “pop” on the shelves.

“As craft cider grows in popularity, picking from the shelves at the local grocery store gets harder and harder. The new bottles are much more impactful and distinctive,” says Lynda. “And they portray who Portland Cider Company is as a cidery - bold and innovative, but also fun and traditional.”

Passion Fruit, Kinda Dry, Sorta Sweet and Pearfect Perry are available now in the new redesigned packaging, hitting chain, convenience, and bottle shop stores over the next several weeks within Portland Cider Co.’s distribution area. Of course the cider is also available in either Portland Cider taproom in Hawthorne-Portland or Clackamas.

For additional information on Portland Cider or their new Passion Fruit, please visit PortlandCider.com. Photos courtesy of Portland Cider.


New Tasting Room in Organic Orchard & Cider Garden for Finnriver

Earlier this year, Finnriver Farm & Cidery in Chimacum, Washington announced the relocation of their tasting room and event facilities to the new Finnriver Orchard & Cider Garden, just south of the Chimacum Crossroads 4-way stop (2.5 miles north of their old location). The Finnriver Orchard is a historic former dairy farm that has been renovated to establish the company’s organic farm and apple orchard, a working farm collaborative, a public tasting room, and a farm-based community gathering place for people of all ages.  In relocating to this historic farm and vibrant rural intersection, Finnriver has the wonderful opportunity to act upon their mission to reconnect people to the land that sustains us. 

The Finnriver tasting room is open seven days a week throughout the year. Families can also enjoy the new bocce ball court, kids play area, and self-guided walking tours of the organic orchard. Folks can relax, eat and listen to music offered at the 70 ft. long, repurposed ‘feed trough’ table, formally a cow feeding trough as well.

Finnriver currently produces several award-winning line-ups of farm-crafted ciders with organic apples, including their contemporary, traditional and seasonal ciders. Finnriver's orchard of 5,500+ organic trees, on a 5-acre certified organic orchard, and their 50-acre farm is protected by permanent conservation easements as well as certified Salmon Safe.  The orchard includes over 20 varieties of heritage and traditional cider and perry varieties.  As the orchard continues to mature, the staff look forward to crafting more ciders that share the beauty and bounty of the land, and offer a taste of the complexity and character of the fruit.

At the farm and orchard, Finnriver has partnered with local and regional farmers and organizations to establish the Chimacum FARM Collaborative and share ground, equipment, resources and values. The group is working together to grow a vibrant agricultural community through research, restoration and education.  Partners include the Organic Seed Alliance, North Olympic Salmon Coalition, Essential Blooms, WSU Jefferson County, the Bread Lab and WSU Sustainable Seed Systems. Finnriver also partnered with the Port Townsend CoLab to convert the classic farm house on the site into a rural co-working center called the Farmhouse CoLab, providing a rural office location and meeting space. 

Over the next few years, Finnriver will begin to relocate the cidery production operations to the new location.  Worked as a dairy for over 100 years, this land has deep-rooted family history and abundant stories, as well as layers of rich loam soils. Finnriver and their partners are now honored to add layers to the story of this land.  Learn more at: Finnriver.com/farm/finnriver-orchard. Photos courtesy of Jenn Lee Chapman.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Cider-Poached Shrimp with Jezebel Apple Salsa
From Southern Living, 2013

Caramel Apple Sangria
From Jonathan Pogash, The Cocktail Guru

 Photo Credit: Hector Sanchez

 Photo Credit: 375 Park Avenue Spirits