Hard Cider Newsletter

Tieton Cider Works Releases Bourbon Peach Cider

Tieton Cider Works, a farm-based craft cider company, announced they have released their summertime limited edition called Bourbon Peach. This follows a series of Northwest-based fruit selections that will be part of Tieton Cider Works’ seasonal draft offering. Bourbon Peach is made with Northwest-sourced peaches and aged with bourbon-barrel.

On the release of Bourbon Peach, Tieton’s Cider Maker, Marcus Robert, said, “We are really proud to make ciders that represent the bounty of what the Northwest has to offer. This is a very popular offering and it’s easy to see why. The locally grown peaches with a touch of bourbon barrel really make this [cider] easy to drink. This cider is perfect for the hot summer months.”

Bourbon Peach and the Limited Release Draft Program have been developed in response to Tieton Cider Work’s customer requests. Not to disappoint, Tieton Cider Works will be releasing these ciders in limited quantity and draft only. You will be able to find them in select locations in Washington, Oregon, California, and Nevada. Tieton Cider Works’ Cider Club Members will also have a chance of receiving limited bottles. You can become a member of the Cider Club online by visiting TietonCiderWorks.com/cider-club.

For more information, please visit TietonCiderWorks.com. Photos courtesy of Tieton Cider Works.


Stormalong Cider Opens New Production Facility and Releases "Mass Appeal"

Stormalong Cider opened a new production facility in May constructed inside the New England Apple Products building in Leominster, MA. The new facility will allow Stormalong to ferment and package cider in 100bbl. batches.

Founded in 2014, Stormalong Cider has operated out of a converted barn in Sherborn, MA on its home farm. The company currently sells two core products in cans including:

  • Legendary Dry – featuring a blend of tannic bittersweet and heirloom apples

  • Dry Hop – a crisp cider dry-hopped with Citra leaf hop via their custom hop cannon

In addition, Stormalong produces a “rare apple” series of ciders highlighting specific heirloom apple varieties, as well as a barrel-aged series in collaboration with Bully Boy Distillers of Boston (MA).

“To us, apple selection and blends are paramount. We have a small orchard where we grow some of the hard-to-find varieties, and we also have relationships with specific growers in New England to source these apples,” said Shannon Edgar, Founder and Cider Maker of Stormalong Cider. “We are fortunate in New England to have some of these heirloom varieties still in the ground, and hope to educate consumers and the industry about the importance of these cultivars in making a high quality cider.”

The new production space in Leominster is conveniently positioned adjacent to a large scale rack and cloth apple press operated by New England Apple Products to produce their high quality non-alcoholic fresh cider. This apple press is capable of squeezing 20,000 gallons of cider a day. “It’s definitely nice to not have to truck juice around in tankers and have control over what happens at the press. We buy or grow all the apples we use and are extremely picky about every step of the process. We don’t just order bulk juice from a supplier. Being able to use the pressing, trucking, and storage capabilities of New England Apple Products for our fresh fruit benefits us substantially,” says Edgar.

Stormalong’s newest cider to come out of their Leominster facility is Mass Appeal which was just canned this month. Atlantic Beverage began distribution of the new cider throughout Massachusetts this month as well. Mass Appeal is an easy-drinking cider with perfect balance of tart and sweet. The classic MacIntosh flavor is prominent, reminiscent of fresh New England farm stand cider, while Golden Delicious apples add a tropical layer to the finish. Stormalong’s ciders are all gluten-free and made with the finest quality locally grown apples, never from concentrate.

For more information about Stormalong’s new location or where to find Mass Appeal, please visit Stormalong.com. Photos courtesy of Stormalong.


Starcut Ciders Releases Two New Products

Inspired by the surrounding orchards in Northern Michigan, Starcut Ciders produces unique and traditional ciders that showcase the beauty of their home. In order to create ciders that reflect the complexity and variety of their local orchards, Starcut encourages local farmers to grow a wide variety of apples to use in their ciders, which they hope will promote Northern Michigan as a cider destination.

Starcut Ciders honors its home state by producing a semi-sweet cider made with Michigan cherries named Squishy. This cider, originally conjured in 2014, was crafted just in time for Michigan’s cherry season, the state’s most prized crop. The cider is fermented with only the brightest crimson cherries from local Michigan orchard, King Orchards. Squishy starts sweet and sugary and shifts towards a bold, tart taste that dries the palate. Squishy is ruby red in color and 6.3% ABV. You can buy squishy in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles and various keg sizes within the following states: Michigan, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin, and Colorado.

Similarly, Starcut Ciders also released Erraticus 11 – their newest cider – this month. Erraticus 11 is a wild fermented cider made with Rhode Island Greening apples, black currants and juniper. Unfortunately, this cider is extremely limited and only available at the Short’s Brewing Company pub and Short’s Mart in Bellaire (MI) for $11 per bottle.

Erraticus 11 pours a beautiful pink-purple color with a pinkish head that dissipates quickly. It has aromas of barnyard funk and apple with notes of tart currant and a slight hint of juniper. Tart and funky, this wild cider finishes dry with the hint of juniper as well. Comparable to a rose, Erraticus 11 is light and fruity.

For more information regarding Starcut Ciders and their products, visit StarcutCiders.com. Photos courtesy of Starcut Ciders.


Strongbow Delivers Artisanal Blend Crafted with Heirloom Apples

Strongbow Hard Apple Ciders unveiled its newest flavor that will usher in the autumn apple season – Strongbow Artisanal Blend. The new flavor is crafted with heirloom cider apple varieties, cold-pressed and blended together for a naturally refreshing, semi-sweet taste. Strongbow Artisanal Blend, along with all Strongbow products, contains no artificial flavors or color and will be available beginning September 2017 in six-pack bottles, variety 12-packs, variety 24-packs, and limited-edition mini-can four-packs.

“We are greeting autumn with the newest edition to the Strongbow family of hard ciders, and are excited to share Strongbow Artisanal Blend with our loyal consumers and new cider drinkers across the U.S.,” said Jessica Robinson, Vice President, Portfolio Brands, who was involved in the development of the new flavor. “With strong momentum behind the brand – Strongbow is growing +12 points ahead of the category – Artisanal Blend is sure to delight consumers and drive even greater sales growth,” continued Robinson. “Its unique blend of heirloom apple varieties results in a refreshing semi-sweet taste that in product testing, 78% of consumers said they would buy.” Strongbow is the #2-selling hard cider brand in the U.S., and along with all its award-winning flavors, Gold Apple was recognized as the Best Tasting Hard Cider for two years in a row at the World Cider Championships among common ciders.

A massive consumer sampling of four-pack mini cans at a suggested retail price of $1 will start in September to drive trial and awareness of the new flavor and bring new drinkers to the cider category. Retailers can capitalize on the fact that, based on a limited-time spring offering, 90% of mini-can buyers are new to Strongbow, and 74% are new to the cider category. In addition the launch will be supported by year-long national television advertising, buzz-worthy digital and PR, and in-store merchandising to heighten visibility. Artisanal Blend will also be available in six-packs and will simultaneously replace Strongbow Honey in the 12-bottle variety pack, alongside Strongbow Orange Blossom, Gold Apple, and Cherry Blossom. The same four flavors will be offered in the four-pack mini cans as well. Strongbow Artisanal Blend is best served over ice, and consumers are encouraged to experiment with mixing Strongbow with other natural flavors to create delicious drinks like a bespoke Artisanal Blend Mojito, to draw out its refreshing semi-sweet taste.

All flavors in the new variety pack are gluten-free and sold in 11.2-ounce bottles. Compared to the other flavors, Strongbow Artisanal has a 6% ABV – the highest of any Strongbow flavor. To find all Strongbow flavors near you, please visit the Strongbow product locator at Strongbow.com.

Photos courtesy of Heineken USA.


Blake's Hard Cider Completes Expansion

Armada, Michigan’s Blake’s Hard Cider Company has wrapped up its biggest project yet, a $2 million expansion that will double capacity at its production facility located on its 70-year-old working farm.

“After experiencing 111% sales growth overall in 2016, with plans to take on six new markets this year, we knew expanding tank space was our only option to meet demand,” said National Sales Director, Aaron Lanctot.

Blake’s is ranked 12th nationally as the largest producing hard cider company in the country and attributes its early success to a focus on quality ingredients sourced from the farm. “What has been most exciting to see about the industry to date is that the consumer base is becoming more interested in apple-focused ciders rather than mass produced concentrate based cider. We are happy to be one of America’s few family owned craft cideries that are still able to change people’s minds about what cider can be,” Head Cider Maker, Robert Lauer explained. “We were one of the first to push the boundaries on flavor and our mango habanero and cucumber ginger ciders are great examples of this,” Lauer added.

The hefty expansion included 30 - 4,500 gallon tanks, 7 - 3,000 gallon tanks, and an assortment of small quantity tanks for experimental purposes, along with a brand new building to house everything. In addition to the expansion of production, they have also expanded their refrigeration space to accommodate the increase in demand for the product. Matt McAlpine, Head of Production stated, “We wanted to find ways to make the new space more efficient with heated floors in an effort to be green; these will easily heat the building and keep the floors dry without heating the tanks,” continued McAlpine.

Blake’s Hard cider was deemed the fastest growing hard cider company in the nation by Nielson Data last year and is on pace to hit 600,000 gallons by the end of the year. Followers of the brand are anxiously awaiting the much anticipated release of its fall seasonal, Black Phillip, a blood orange and cranberry tart cider most famous for its bizarre artwork of a demonic goat on its packaging.

Visit BlakesHardCider.com for more information and check out their eccentric YouTube videos by following their channel. Photos courtesy of Blake’s Hard Cider.


DESTIHL Gains Additional Licensing to Produce Hard Cider

Last month, Illinois brewery, DESTIHL, announced that it had acquired the requisite license to now make hard cider, wine and mead.

This announcement and milestone in DESTIHL Brewery’s history shortly follows the grand opening of DESTIHL’s new production brewery and beer hall located in Normal (IL). DESTIHL Brewery will join several other notable breweries that have expanded their portfolio to include other types of alcoholic beverages.

“We’ve always been enthusiastic about taking the next step as a company,” says Founder, CEO and Brewmaster, Matt Potts. “We’ve shown this through our innovative WiLD SOUR Series, our expansive barrel-aging program and, most recently, the installation of our large, dedicated sour brewing system at our new production brewery. The addition of hard cider to our lineup is just another way of widening our portfolio and providing products that satisfy the needs and wants of craft beverage consumers.”

DESTIHL now has two hard cider offerings that were produced in late May and early June. Both a dry cider and pear cider are available now as draft-only releases in The Beer Hall at DESTIHL Brewery, the new $14 million expansion brewery that opened earlier this year.

The manufacturing of hard cider, wine and mead requires an alternating license to beer manufacturing due to the proportion and type of ingredients required in the making of the various beverages. Beer manufacturing requires the use of malted barley and grain in over 50% of the recipe bill. If a different ingredient comprises over 50% of the recipe bill, that beverage can no longer be considered a beer. Examples of ingredients that exemplify this distinction between beer and cider, wine and mead, would be apples, grapes and honey, respectively.

DESTIHL currently distributes its beers in Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin with limited availability in Washington D.C. as well. Although the brewery has not ruled out canning or bottling of the cider, wine and mead or distribution of these products, they are currently available at The Beer Hall only while they continue to experiment, craft, and dial-in on their cider, wine and mead recipes.

For more information about DESTIHL and its new location, please visit DESTIHL.com. Photos courtesy of DESTIHL.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Hard Cider BBQ Ribs
From Shoot What You Eat

Mint Apple Swizzle
From John Pomeroy for CIDERCRAFT Magazine

Photo Credit: Don Crossland

Photo Credit: Greg Neumaie