Hard Cider Newsletter


Finnriver Collaborates for Saison Cider Release

Finnriver Farm and Cidery, producing premium craft cider on the Olympic Peninsula of Washington state since 2008, has partnered with the Cider Summit festivals to release a special collaboration cider in celebration of their annual cider tasting events. This limited edition ’Saison style’ cider will be featured at each of the four annual Cider Summits in 2017 – Chicago, San Francisco, Portland and Seattle. 

According to Cider Summit founder Alan Shapiro, "A mere handful of years ago artisanal cider was barely on the radar of discerning beverage consumers across the U.S. In an effort to highlight this emerging category, Cider Summit was born in 2010 in Seattle. Over the next several years the event expanded to four cities across the country and has introduced thousands of new consumers to these artfully crafted beverages.”

Finnriver is proud to have been among the earliest supporters of Cider Summit, and together they have designed this new cider to accompany the Cider Summit festivals and to highlight the ongoing renaissance of craft cider in the US.

The Cider Summit collaboration release is a Saison/Farmhouse style cider made from a select blend of Washington Certified Organic apples fermented with a Saison ale yeast at high temperature to bring out the tropical and spice notes of the yeast. According to Finnriver cidermaker Andrew Byers, “This cider is a wonderful opportunity to showcase an influential yeast strain and to continue the exploration of cider styles.”

To compliment the nose and build the mid-palate structure of this Saison-style cider, Finnriver dunked a sachet of dried fruit and select spices— melding the wild spice notes of a classic saison with the delicious versatility of Washington state organic apple juice. 

This cider joins hundreds of other traditional and innovative ciders available at the Cider Summit events, representing over 100 producers from around the world, and attracting thousands of cider drinkers to immerse themselves in the cider experience. The Cider Summit special collaboration release will be available at 2017 Cider Summit festivals and at select accounts in each Summit city. The next Cider Summit will be taking place on April 22, 2017 at The Presidio in San Francisco, CA.

Finnriver farms and ferments on 80 certified organic acres in the Chimacum Valley, south of Port Townsend Washington, and is Certified Salmon Safe and a Certified B Corporation. Finnriver is committed to wise land stewardship through organic agriculture, farmland conservation, habitat restoration, community outreach and education. Their organic orchard and Cider Garden tasting room are open daily, year-round, with weekend food and live music events, and their farmcrafted ciders are distributed in 12 states across the west coast and midwest.

Visit Finnriver.com for additional information. Photo courtesy of Kristyn Dolan.

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Seattle Cider Company Launches in Nashville

Seattle Cider Company and Lipman Brothers announced a new partnership and the launch of Seattle Cider’s unique selection of dry craft ciders in Tennessee! Becoming the thirteenth state to carry Seattle Cider Company since their August 2013 opening, Nashville can now enjoy the growing cidery’s entire year round, limited and seasonal lineup statewide, with expansion to the remainder of the state scheduled for the coming months.

“As our first new state of 2017, we’re thrilled to launch in Tennessee and experience all the amazing energy Nashville has to offer,” said Joel VandenBrink, founder and CEO of Seattle Cider Company. “We can’t wait to introduce our ciders to the market and help continue to drive the craft cider movement across the country.” 

“We are extremely excited to partner with Seattle Cider Company. They bring a new level of artisanship and originality to our portfolio in the Tennessee market,” Ian Wolczyk, Craft & Import Manager of Lipman Brothers, said.

Known for its handcrafted collection of dry, flavorful ciders – successfully bridging the gap between beer and wine – Seattle Cider Company offerings are made from 100 percent fresh-pressed Washington apples, gluten free and never from concentrate. Scheduled to be available in 16-ounce cans, 22-ounce bottles and on draft throughout the Nashville area, initial Seattle Cider Co. offerings will include:

  • Dry: Dry and pleasantly acidic, flavors of nectarine and under ripe peach hit the palate with no residual sweetness. One of the driest ciders on the market. 0 brix, 6.5% ABV, and available in 16-ounce cans and draft

  • Semi-Sweet: A light, crisp cider with just a touch of sweetness, this cider is honey in color with notes of orange, lemon and apple. A refreshing cider, it reveals hints of apricot on the palate. 2.6 brix, 6.5% ABV and available in 16-ounce cans and draft

  • Basil Mint: A seasonal cider fermented with fresh basil and mint, this off-dry cider starts savory and floral, complemented perfectly by a tart, clean finish. Available now through May. 1.8 brix, 6.9% ABV and available in 16-ounce cans and draft

  • Three Pepper: A small-batch, limited-edition cider, the Three Pepper features an aroma of fresh, green jalapeños. Paired with a unique flavor profile, it combines the taste of poblano, habanero and jalapeño peppers, giving this cider a kick followed by a subtly sweet finish. 2.6 brix, 6.9% ABV and available in 22-ounce bottles and draft

  • Gin Botanical: Fermented with spent gin botanicals from Batch 206 Distillery, Gin Botanical is a semi-dry cider showcasing lemon, orange rind, juniper, cucumber and verbena. Like the spirit that inspired it, this cider is complex, clean, aromatic and refreshing. 1.8 brix, 6.9% ABV and available in 22-ounce bottles and draft

Additional ciders will become available in the market as they are released throughout the year. Seattle Cider Co. products can currently be found in stores and on tap throughout Washington, Oregon, Alaska, Idaho, Illinois, Austin (TX), Wisconsin, California, Minnesota, Nevada, Missouri, and Colorado. Visit SeattleCiderCompany.com for more information about Seattle Cider.

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Cider Riot! Releases Experimental Organic Hopped Cider and Cans

This month Cider Riot! honored Oregon’s pioneering spirit with the re-release of F.X. Matthieu, a hopped cider. Made with X-17 hops bred by Pat Leavy at the Oregon Hophouse, Oregon’s first certified organic hop farm, the cider honors Quebecois revolutionary and founder of the Republic of Oregon, Francois Xavier Matthieu.

To celebrate the F.X. Matthieu cider the Cider Riot! pub welcomed Sue Jaggers, great great granddaughter of F.X. Matthieu, her husband Jim Jaggers who will be portrayed as F.X. Matthieu in period garb, and hop grower Pat Leavy.

“We were proud to pay tribute to an Oregonian revolutionary with a revolutionary Oregonian cider,” says Cider Riot! founder Abram Goldman-Armstrong. “We were proud to make this cider with a new variety of organic hops grown near Champoeg where the Republic of Oregon was founded.”

F. X. Matthieu was one of the pivotal votes in favor of forming the Republic of Oregon at Joe Meek’s Wolf Meeting in Champoeg, 1843. Matthieu went on to operate the Butteville Store, and served in the Oregon legislature. His parents hailed from Normandy and Brittany, the two major cider-producing regions of France, and Matthieu was involved in Quebecois independence struggle against the British before fleeing to New York state, and working his way west to Oregon in 1842.

Matthieu Road bisects Leavy’s Oregon Hophouse hop farm near Butteville, inspiring Cider Riot! to name the cider made with the X-17 experimental hops in honor of F.X. Matthieu. Only three breweries nationwide got the 2016 crop of Leavy’s X-17 hops, which lend the cider tropical fruit notes and a spicy herbaceous finish. Pat Leavy, whose grandfather began growing hops in the 1920’s, began breeding hops suited for organic cultivation methods in the Willamette Valley after struggling with disease and pest pressures to commercially available hop varieties.

Cider Riot! has been making F.X. Matthieu cider with the X-17 hops since 2014, starting out with a 5-gallon test batch. Hopped cider, invented in Oregon a decade ago by Salem’s Wandering Aengus cider has swept the country, and there are now cidermakers around the globe pairing hops and apples. Cider Riot!’s year round Everybody Pogo, made with Leavy’s organic Goldings hops is the company’s bestseller.

Another Cider Riot! favorite, Everyday Semi-Dry Cider, is also making waves this month with the launch of the cider in cans. This sessionable hard cider for all day drinking will be available in six packs of 12-ounce cans starting in April.

Apples grown in lush orchards in the shadows of the great Northwest’s Cascade Range are pressed and fermented to create Everyday Semi-Dry. The cider’s mild sweetness is balanced by a bright crispness evocative of the first crunchy bite of an apple fresh from the tree.

This New World cider boasts aromas of sliced peach, light tropical fruit, and harvest-ripe apples. The fresh apple flavor – with crisp, refreshing acids and a mild sweetness – is ideal for any time of the day. Everyday Semi-Dry is gluten-free, sulfite free, vegan, unpasteurized, and low in carbohydrates.

With the launch of Everyday Semi-Dry, Cider Riot! opens a new chapter, making its ciders more widely available. To celebrate, Cider Riot! is hosting a can release/dance party at Mississippi Studios in Portland, Oregon, with Natasha Kmeto and Troubled Youth on April 12 at 8pm. Tickets are $5 and available via Ticketfly.com.

For more information on F.X. Matthieu or Everyday Semi-Dry, please visit CiderRiot.com. Photos courtesy of Cider Riot!

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Austin Eastciders Releases New Blood Orange Cider

Austin Eastciders announced the release of their new Austin Eastciders Blood Orange Cider, available April 3. The easy-drinking Blood Orange Cider is available in individual, 6-pack, and 12-pack 12 oz. cans in bars, restaurants, and other fine retailers, including Costco, HEB, and Whole Foods throughout Texas, New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Virginia. 

Blood Orange is a zesty, dry cider crafted with bright red Sicilian blood oranges, heirloom bittersweet apples, and American dessert apples. The Sicilian blood orange has a distinct, sweet flavor with light flavors of raspberry and grapefruit, which results in the cider being medium bodied and crisp with a hint of tangy citrus. The mouth-watering blood orange flavor is slightly more pronounced than a standard orange, but not so intense as to overwhelm the apple-forward flavor profile. The tangy citrus adds a unique complexity to the effervescent cider and will delight cider drinkers, beer fans, and wine enthusiasts alike. Notes of ripe apples and orange zest make you want to dive into this cider, which is ultra refreshing and reminiscent of drinking mimosas on a Sunday afternoon.

Blood Orange is the newest cider to join the Austin Eastciders family, which includes Original, Texas Honey, Hopped, and Pineapple ciders. All Austin Eastciders products are naturally gluten-free, not overly sweet, and have a smooth, dry flavor. Blood Orange is perfect to enjoy on its own or to complement any meal, especially a backyard barbecue on a summer afternoon. Austin Eastciders Blood Orange is 5% ABV and also makes a great cocktail base.

“Our team crafted well over a dozen different ciders before deciding on Blood Orange for our spring 2017 release. We then perfected it with Sicilian Blood Oranges using both the juice and a bit of the rind to land this apple-forward, very refreshing, crisp and citrusy cider. Given the exuberant reaction from our tasting panel we expect our Blood Orange to become an instant favorite. Try one and you’re not done,” said Austin Eastciders CEO Johnny Heiselberg. 

In addition to Blood Orange coming to market, Austin Eastciders is proud to also launch their first 12-packs of 12 oz. can variety packs, which include three cans each of the Original, Hopped, Texas Honey, and Pineapple ciders. The Austin Eastciders variety packs are on sale now in all Austin Eastciders markets. The variety packs give cider fans the ability to enjoy the roster of Austin Eastciders products with an easy-to-carry 12-pack case.

After opening in East Austin in 2013, Austin Eastciders expanded to an additional 33,000 square foot cidery in Southeast Austin at 4007 Commercial Center Drive on July 1, 2016. The cidery is a multi-purpose facility with large production and administrative areas to accommodate the company’s team of 56 employees. Austin Eastciders is one of the few cider makers in the United States using bittersweet cider apples to produce its beloved line of ciders.

For more information on the Austin Eastciders cidery, the Austin Eastciders team, or Austin Eastciders products, please visit AustinEastciders.com. Photos courtesy of Austin Eastciders.

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2 Towns Ciderhouse Releases 'Flight of the Kiwi' Hard Cider

This month, 2 Towns Ciderhouse released Flight of the Kiwi, an electrifying, oak-aged cider made from Northwest-grown hardy kiwi berries, fresh-pressed apples and gooseberries. With vibrant kiwi aromas and heady tropical notes, Flight of the Kiwi has a sessionable 5.8% ABV.

Two pounds of hardy kiwi berries, small cousins of the better known kiwifruit, go into every gallon of this cider, which is fermented cold with sauvignon blanc yeast for a delicious brew as fun as New Zealand’s curious flightless bird.

“Flight of the Kiwi has crazy bright, tropical aromas like you’d inhale while walking through a lush equatorial fruit grove,” said Dave Takush, head cider maker for 2 Towns Ciderhouse. “This cider demonstrates our mission of pushing the bounds of what cider can be. With quality local ingredients, some creative blending, and a lot of passion, Flight of Kiwi breaks the mold.”

One small batch of Flight of the Kiwi is now ready for cider lovers, and 2 Towns expects it to ‘fly’ off the shelves. It will be primarily available in Oregon, California and Washington. Flight of Kiwi has the backbone to stand up to flavorful and hearty fare – try pairing it with chipotle or bacon grilled cheese sandwiches.

For more information on Flight of Kiwi or any other 2 Towns Ciderhouse ciders, please visit 2TownsCiderhouse.com. Photos courtesy of 2 Towns Ciderhouse.

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Blake's Hard Cider Grows Up and Out...

Although Blake’s Farms in Armada has been a major player in the apple business since 1946, its offspring, Blake’s Hard Cider, wasn’t launched until 2013. Three years later the quirky maker of Flannel Mouth, Beard Bender, El Chapo and a dozen other popular flavors has grown up fast, zooming to national recognition as one of the premier hard cider brands.

In 2016, Blake’s Hard Cider recorded triple digit growth in sales and volume producing more than 23,000 barrels of its distinctive and obviously popular brews.  Blake’s Tasting Room was voted “one of the best bars in America” by Esquire Magazine.

“It’s been a wild, fast ride and we’re thrilled with the acceptance our ciders have received,” said Blake’s Founder and Co-owner Andrew Blake. “Being available in major regional and national chains like Kroger and Meijer has helped build awareness of our brand and has been crucial to our overall success. Meanwhile, if we continue to concentrate on using the best, freshest ingredients and our proprietary processes, we think we can continue to win new customers.”

Blake said the cidery is plowing its profits immediately back into the business to add a 12,000 square foot tank farm and state-of-the-art brewing software and production materials to ensure absolute quality control and product consistency. The company also has plans to expand its portfolio of offerings and distribution.

“We’ve just introduced our elderberry and vanilla infused Archimedes brand and our Grizzly Pear prickly pear hard cider just came out. We continue pushing the boundaries of hard cider to stay ahead of the competition and are positioned to triple our volume again in 2017 to meet market demand,” says Blake.

Next month, consumers can look for two new Blake’s Hard Cider styles to become available. The first is Cyser – a style of cider – made with apple blossom honey and hints of bergamot and jasmine. Each morning foraging bees fly as far as three miles in search of flowers in bloom. Once found, the location of the source of nectar is communicated to the hive through a dance. The auburn hue to the Blake’s honey apple marriage makes you wonder which of their nectar sources – apple, cherry or peach – the bees enjoyed most. This 6.9% ABV sparkling cyser inspires a dance as well as a toast to the bees that make Blake’s orchard possible. If you buy Cyser from Blake’s Hard Cider tasting room in Armada, Michigan, the company will donate a $1 to the Honey Bee Conservancy for every 22-ounce bottle sold. You could have a cider and save bees at the same time!

The second Blake’s release coming this April is The Tonic, a hard cider infused with cucumber and ginger. As the first flushes of green awaken the New Year, invigorate your senses with freshly picked ginger root and cool cucumber combined together to create a crisp, light elixir – Blake’s Tonic. This isn’t the first time you might have heard about The Tonic but the seasonal is back and now available in cans (12-ounce, six packs) for the first time due to a high volume of requests! Consumers can find the 6.5% ABV cider from April to July. Here’s a great video to learn about the making of The Tonic:

Blake’s Farms represents generations of know-how and passion for apple-based products. The farm is home to 45,600 apple trees, 42 apple varieties and 19 varieties of hard cider. Blake’s hard cider products are available in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, North Carolina, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Kansas and now Pennsylvania. The company announced distribution in Pennsylvania earlier this month with a growth in distribution to the ‘city of brotherly love’ – Philadelphia.

For more information on Blake’s Hard Cider, please visit BlakesHardCider.com. Photos and video courtesy of Blake’s Hard Cider.

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Eat This…

Drink That…

Creamy Cider & Sausage Braise with Apples & Mash
From Katy Greenwood via BBC Good Food

Sizzling Apple Currant
Recipe courtesy of Absolut.

Recipe from Good Food Magazine, November 2014.

Photo Credit: The Absolut Company