Hard Cider Newsletter

Austin Eastciders Opens Tasting Room

Austin Eastciders announced the opening of its new tasting room in East Austin, Texas, at 979 Springdale Road, Suite 130, this month. The tasting room, dubbed as a “collaboratory” (as in a collaborative laboratory), is a space for the brand to foster community, experiment with special releases and barrel-aged concoctions, and host weekly events with the creative community. The tasting room is open on Thursdays and Fridays from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturdays from 12 p.m. to 10 p.m., and Sundays from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.

“Opening the tasting room allows us to host cider fans in our own space for the first time, which has been a major goal for the company,” said CEO Johnny Heiselberg. “We’ve seen the demand for a tasting room since our founding in 2013. We are excited that the conversion of our original cidery to have a bar is now complete and can’t wait to introduce visitors to the original drink of America.”

The new tasting room is in the same location of Austin Eastciders’ first urban cidery. The brand has operated at the location on Springdale Road in East Austin since October 2014. The Springdale location has served as the home of the research and development (R&D) arm of the brand where they produce their limited-edition and special release ciders. Austin Eastciders has now transformed the space to be a tasting room for guests to enjoy their ciders in a relaxed, laid-back bar setting.

The new 1,960-square-foot tasting room, situated in a growing East Austin neighborhood, is directly adjacent to Friends and Allies Brewing Company, Austin Bouldering Project, and Springdale Station. The navy blue metal building boasts warm industrial design with a balance of natural lighting and festoon string lights that set a comfortable tone for gathering over great cider. The space offers beer garden-style picnic tables and a dog-friendly patio. Both the inside and outdoor areas have communal seating and large garage doors open the space. Guests are invited to play cornhole and darts or board games. Oak barrels from other local spirits companies such as Dulce Vida Tequila and Treaty Oak line the back bar area. Austin Eastciders regularly collaborates with other Texas-based spirits brands and wineries for its special release ciders and these large barrels house the aging cider.

Visitors can enjoy signature flavors such as Eastciders Original, Hopped, Texas Honey, Pineapple, Blood Orange, as well as limited releases like Cucumber, Ruby Red Grapefruit, and barrel-aged offerings, including the Bourbon Barrel-Aged and Cabernet Sauvignon on tap. In addition to the five rotating taps, the tasting room sells six-packs of the Austin Eastciders family of ciders and the newly available 12-packs to go along with branded 32-oz. Hydro Flasks available for refills. Four-glass flights and 64-oz. growlers will be available in the near future. This is also the Austin Eastciders shop, the only physical space for fans to purchase the brand’s merchandise, including select items exclusive to the tasting room, such as t-shirts, koozies, and pins.

Marc Brenton Smith joins the Eastciders team to open this facility as tasting room manager. Prior to this role with Austin Eastciders, Marc was the general manager for Parkside and Bess Bistro and sommelier for Restaurant Jezebel. He also opened the esteemed Hotel Granduca Austin in 2015. A native Texan, Marc received his sommelier certification from the Court of Master Sommeliers and received advanced certification from the Wine and Spirit Education Trust.

”I’m driven by my love of delicious beverages. I’m thrilled to join this team and bring our beautiful liquids to the people!” said Marc Smith. With the addition of the new tasting room, the brand hopes the space will lend itself as a “collaboratory” for the Austin creative community. This highlights Austin Eastciders’ commitment to supporting local makers, artisans, and musicians. Since its founding in 2013, Austin Eastciders has supported emerging artists and artisans, including chefs, mixologists, hobby brewers, and cider makers and partnered in events such as free concerts, outdoor film screenings, art shows, food festivals, and other community arts. The brand will host regular shows and events at the tasting room that involve working with and promoting local talent. Austin Eastciders kicks off regular programming on Thursdays and Sundays with live music in partnership with Drunk Luck.

For more information on the new Austin Eastciders tasting room or Austin Eastciders products, please find Austin Eastciders on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram under @Eastciders or visit AustinEastciders.com. Photos courtesy of Chelsea Weber for Austin Eastciders.


Slim Are The Pickens

Todd Strauss, owner of Slim Pickens, began his journey in the cider industry 13 years ago through a Tampa pub called Yeoman’s, which was owned by his good friend, Cigar City Brewing CEO, Joey Redner. Yeoman’s is where Todd’s education on craft beer, cider, and mead began. From that point on he was “all in from there.” If you’re familiar with any of Slim Picken’s products you know they are anything but ordinary.

When asked what was the one thing he wanted his consumers to remember about Slim Pickens Cider & Mead, Todd responded with, “Creative - is what I want people to remember about Slim Pickens – like our thought process. There’s just as much creativity in our juice as there is in the packaging. For example, the cans have a blink-and-you-miss-it message on the back.”

He wasn’t lying! We had to go back and look at the can again to find it, “For distribution information or sing us songs,” followed by their number. Todd confirmed people have actually called and left singing voicemails. “I think something imaginative like that makes us more approachable. It just shows that there are people behind the product – human beings, not just a machine.”

The name Slim Pickens came from a friend’s poem, which read “slim are the pickens” referring to blades of grass and how to the eye they all look the same from a far, but up close they are all different. Todd explained, “This reminded me of people. I think you can see the metaphor. Slim Pickens was born from there. We all have a story, we’re all slim pickens.”

Slim Picken‘s cider isn’t crafted in one location. Todd considers himself a gypsy brewer, so the cider is crafted at breweries and cideries from Florida to Pennsylvania to the UK and Sweden. Currently Slim Pickens is available in Florida, New York, Boston and Virginia, but Todd and the team are in the process of bringing it to the UK, France, Denmark, Sweden, Hong Kong, and Norway. With new distribution, mead production in sight, and future collaborations from around the world in the works, Slim Picken’s future looks bright.

If you’re in an area where Slim Pickens is distributed, make sure you grab some. You won’t be disappointed, and hey maybe if you meet Todd and you’re interesting enough you’ll be the face on the next can! Slim Pickens portfolio of offerings currently includes: Microphone Check (banana cider), Yo! (blueberry cider), Make Momma Proud (sour apple passionfruit cider), Ananas (pineapple cider), and One, Two (strawberry cider).

For more information about Slim Pickens, check them out online at SlimPickens.com. Photos courtesy of Slim Pickens Cider & Mead.

Contributed By: Kristen Sarcone, Staff Writer of Hard Cider News


Foggy Ridge Releases Final Call - A Farewell to Cider Making

This month, Foggy Ridge Cider released Final Call, the last cider release Foggy Ridge’s founder, Diane Flynt, will be making. Final Call is a heritage cider made strictly from apples. The cider includes a blend of apples that were harvested “dead ripe” in Foggy Ridge’s Old Orchard, the original orchard planted in 1997.

By harvesting “dead ripe” fruit, the farmers end up picking each variety of apples multiple times to get the most flavorful fruit. The result are field lots on the farm with a number of apple varieties that ripen at the same time. The blend of apples in Final Call includes: Cox’s Orange Pippin, Ribston Pippin, Parmar, Hewe’s Crab and early Harrisons. As a heritage cider and because Foggy Ridge is an orchard-centric cider producer with the mission to produce cider that reflects the fruit grown in their 3,000’ elevation mountain orchards, once the apples are pressed and fermented the cider is ready for consumption. There are no added flavorings, sugar, etc. The cider lets the apples speak for themselves reflecting the varieties within and the terroir.

Final Call is a 7.5% ABV cider that is naturally gluten-free. It is a crisp, semi-dry cider with lots of apple flavor and acidity. It is available in 750mL bottles for the suggested retail price of $18 per bottle, and can be purchased online at FoggyRidgeCider.com or in retail stores and restaurants where Foggy Ridge products can currently be found in Virginia, Washington DC, and North Carolina. Depending on supply and demand, some distributors may receive bottles in South Carolina and Tennessee, but time will tell. As the last cider blend from Foggy Ridge, less than 220 cases were produced in total - making this a limited cider so don’t delay getting your hands on a bottle. Additionally, as the last of ciders to be produced by Foggy Ridge, Final Call is a sip of history you should definitely be a part of.

In an email to Foggy Ridge subscribers, Flynt announced that “it’s time to return to my roots” referring to growing apples and focusing on farming versus the production and marketing of cider. This is sad news for cider aficionados, who have praised Flynt as the industry pioneer, advocate, and ambassador that she is and for the consistent, high quality products she produced under Foggy Ridge. However, Flynt is ending her cidermaking career on a true high note. Since 2005, Flynt has produced award-winning ciders and received national acclaim as Virginia’s first modern cidery. She’s also encouraged the growth of cider through Cider Week Virginia and paved the way for many cidermakers regionally. Flynt has also been a three time James Beard Foundation Award nominee for ‘Outstanding Wine, Beer or Spirits Professional.’

If Foggy Ridge ciders, with their authentic apple taste and aroma obtained strictly from the fruit, are any indication though, we’re sure Foggy Ridge apples will be in high demand and we’ll see ciders made from Flynt’s fruit from other companies as the Flynts continue to grow their heirloom apple varieties. They have been growing bitter and acidic apples like Hewe’s Crab, Harrison, Tremlett’s Bitter, Ashmead’s Kernel and Dabinett, all full of complex flavor; and this year, Diane grafted 50 trees to grow the red-fleshed apple, Redfield.

Visit FoggyRidgeCider.com to purchase your bottle of Final Call and to learn more about Foggy Ridge cider while you can. Photos courtesy of Foggy Ridge.

Contributed by: Kristyn Dolan, Editor of Hard Cider News


C Squared Ciders to Release New Series of Cider

The Denver, Colorado, based craft cidery, C Squared Ciders, announced the release of Cousteau. Cousteau is the first release from their new, high end, barrel-aged ‘Sailor Series’. This French American hybrid cider is made with Newtown Pippin and French bittersweet apples. Using mixed culture fermentation, including wild yeast strains, the cider was slowly fermented and aged in American and French Oak barrels for seven months.

Cousteau is described as a crisp, tart, and dry cider with aromas of stone fruit and a hint of toasted oak. Cousteau has an ABV of 6.9% and is packaged in a 500mL bottle. If you’re in Colorado or Minnesota make sure to act quickly because there are only 500 total cases available. Cousteau debuted for purchase exclusively at C Squared Ciders on Black Friday but a limited amount of bottles will be available for purchase at select liquor stores throughout Colorado and Minnesota the weeks following (while supplies last) and on draft at select accounts only in Colorado.

C Squared has been producing and distributing their award winning Siren Series, which are American style ciders with an emphasis on balance and drink-ability. “The Siren’s were developed with the intention of appealing to a wide array of craft drinkers, whereas the Sailor Series will fit the demand for a more esoteric and boutique category of ciders,” said Sales Manager, Eric Hatlestad.

There is no date set for the next Sailor Series release. Future ciders from the Sailor Series will only be released when properly aged and at the height of perfection. The Sailor Series are an ode to what inspires the C Squared Cider makers. Each release will be stylized by country of origin, a dedication to different apples, yeast, wood, and ciders from around the world.

Check out CSquaredCiders.com for additional information about the cidery and for contact information to check if Cousteau bottles are still available at the tasting room. Photos courtesy of C Squared Ciders.


Downeast Cider House Turns Cyber Monday into #CyderMonday

As scores of cider fans clamored for the chance to have their online orders delivered by drone on Cyber Monday (November 27, 2017), Boston’s own makers of delicious, unfiltered, craft ciders, provided a much-needed respite from the shopping madness. Rather than reaching for the skies, the local cider maker unleashed a “drone squad” of freaky human robot cider slingers on the streets, Ts (Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority subways), and sidewalks of Boston, Massachusetts, to turn #CyberMonday into #CyderMonday.

“Delivering cider by flying drone isn’t just hard, it’s pretty illegal,” explains Taylor Hogan, from the Downeast Cider crew. “Rather than risk possible incarceration, we decided to add a little fun to the holiday frenzy and remind everyone that true happiness doesn’t come in a box full of crap from some website, it comes in a can.”

Cyber Monday is the busiest online shopping day and least productive workday of the year. The day’s shenanigans offered a welcomed diversion for stressed our cyber-shoppers as Downeast drone drops delighted cider-lovers across the city.

“I was so happy to be a part of this,” said Aisha Loche, who received the first drone delivery of the day in Boston’s historic Faneuil Hall. “I am obsessed with Downeast Cider and the ‘drones’ totally got me. These guys know how to have fun.”

The entire Downeast Cider “CyderMonday” experience can be seen below or by visiting DowneastCider.com. Video and photo courtesy of Downeast Cider House.


Portland Cider Co. Aims to Raise $5,000 for Non-Profit

Portland Cider Company announced the second annual release of its Oregon Wild Cider, a cider that embodies community, sustainability, tradition, and charity. Named for the non-profit it benefits, Oregon Wild Cider is the result of nearly three months of apple collecting from the backyards of Portland neighbors as part of Portland Cider Co.’s annual PDX Apple Recycling program. One hundred percent of net proceeds from the sales of the cider will be donated to Oregon Wild, a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with a mission to protect Oregon’s wildlands, wildlife and waters for future generations.

“We took all the apples given to us as part of our PDX Apple Recycling program, pressed them up, and let the flavor profile settle into a delicious, medium sweet apple cider,” explained Jeff Parrish, co-owner of Portland Cider Co. “This is a classic, easy drinking cider, with a slightly more complex and rounded profile compared to our other ciders.”

“Thanks to the incredible success of this year’s apple collection, we anticipate being able to donate three times more to Oregon Wild this year – an estimated $5,000 – once all the growler fills and pints are sold,” exclaimed Lynda Parrish, co-owner of Portland Cider Co. “This fundraiser is an important initiative of Portland Cider Co. every year, because of our belief in the work that Oregon Wild does and their commitment to sustainability.”

Portland Cider Co. was the first cidery to become members of the Oregon Brewshed Alliance, an outreach initiative of Oregon Wild that is comprised of a coalition of Oregon craft beverage producers with a common goal to protect Oregon wetlands. Oregon Wild will be available exclusively on tap in draft kegs, served at both Portland Cider Co. taprooms (Clackamas Pub & Portland Cider House on Hawthorne), as well as a handful of select retailers in the Portland Metro area.

Oregon Wild will be on tap throughout the months of December and January at The Civic Taproom & Bottleshop, a fellow Oregon Brewshed Alliance member. Additionally, for a very limited time starting Dec. 2, it can be found at the following destinations in Oregon:

• Allium Bistro in West Linn
• Bushwhackers Cider in Portland
• Belmont Station in Portland
• Tin Bucket in Portland
• Bailey’s Taproom in Portland
• Oregon City Brewing Co. in Oregon City
• 12 Bridge Ciderworks in Oregon City

However, the big release day is Friday, December 1, at the Portland Cider Co.’s Wassail Holiday Party, taking place from 6pm to 11pm at Portland Cider Co.’s Clackamas Pub & Cidery, located at 8925 SE Jannsen Rd., Bldg F in Clackamas, Oregon. The party exclusively features the release of Oregon Wild but will also have the release of two other winter and specialty ciders. Portland Cider will release a very limited run of a long-time taproom holiday favorite, Winter Spice, a festively spiced cider with a little bit of a cayenne pepper kick made with 100 percent Northwest apples; and Hot Mulled Cider, a lightly spiced cider fortified with Portland Cider Co.’s own cider brandy, served warm and strong.

Those of you looking for the popular Portland Cider Cranberry Seasonal, which also came out this month, should still be able to find some on tap and in bottles at the party as well. Cranberry features just two ingredients: a fermented blend of fresh cranberries from Everest Farms in Bandon, Oregon, and fresh pressed Northwest apple juice. The result is a medium sweet and slightly tart cider, reminiscent of a cranberry relish.

The family friendly event will also feature entertainment provided by the Portland Revels, including Morris dancing, pub songs lead by festively dressed carolers, and live music. A King and Queen of the Wassail will lead guests through a proper “Toastings of the Apple Trees,” a Wassail tradition that stands the test of time, in which attendees help Portland Cider Company toast apple trees with cider to ensure a good apple harvest in the coming year.

Visit PortlandCider.com for more information about the Oregon Wild, the seasonal ciders and the Wassail Holiday Party. Photos courtesy of Portland Cider Company.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Apple Bourbon Turkey
From Michael Symon via The Chew

Smoked Sage Hard Apple Cider
From Glue & Glitter

Photo Credit: The Chew

Photo Credit: Becky Striepe