Hard Cider Newsletter

Eden Specialty Ciders Introduces Heritage Cider in Cans

Eden Specialty Ciders, a leading U.S. producer of heritage and ice ciders, introduced its latest release, Heritage Cider, in a can last month.

‘Heritage cider,’ recently defined as a cider style by the U. S. Association of Cider Makers, is produced with heirloom and tannic apple varieties, and often favors traditional winemaking techniques over those of large-scale, commercial mass-production methods, popularized by larger cider brands.

“Our Heritage Cider cans give consumers an option to find more fresh fruit character without added sugar, in a convenient package at a moderate price,” said Eleanor Léger, founder of Eden Specialty Ciders.

Exclusively available at the suggested retail price of $16 in four-packs, Eden’s Heritage Cider cans are crafted with a blend of five heirloom and table apples grown on four small Vermont orchards. Gravenstein, McIntosh, and Empire apples contribute red-fruited aromatic complexity and juiciness, while Kingston Black and Bulmer’s Norman are English heritage varieties that provide body and texture. Immediately following autumn harvest, when the fruit is at its peak, these apples are gently pressed before the juice begins its slow, cool fermentation. Post-fermentation, a very light dosing of custom, Eden-produced ice cider is added and the finished product rests in stainless steel tanks for five months before canning. The result is a quaffable 6.2% ABV cider without any added sugar or flavorings – offering slight minerality, hints of tropical fruit such as papaya, with candied raspberries on the finish.

“This is a game-changer in the world of cider” said Adam Goddu, former store manager and cider and cheese education specialist for Murray’s Cheese in New York City. “It has incredible complexity yet is so delicious and easy to drink.”

Heritage Cider cans are available in most of the 17 markets where Eden Specialty Ciders are distributed as well as online through Eden’s website. It is available now in Vermont, Massachusetts, Maine, New Jersey, New York, Colorado, North and South Carolina, and coming soon to New Hampshire, Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and Illinois.

For more information on Eden Specialty Ciders, boutique producer of ice, heritage and aperitif ciders made from heirloom and tannic apple varieties, visit EdenCiders.com. Photos courtesy of Eden Specialty Ciders.


Golden State Cider Releases New ‘California Farms Cider Collection’

This summer, Golden State Cider announced news of their California Farms Cider Collection, a new draft-only cider series made from single apple varieties from orchards throughout California. The initial release was the Newtown Pippin in kegs across California and Portland, Oregon, from Central California’s Pajaro Valley in Santa Cruz County.

“There are so many distinct apple-growing regions in California, as each region has a drastically different climate that imprints a signature on the apples grown there,” said Tim Godfrey, Head Cider Maker for Golden State Cider. “With the launch of the California Farms Cider Collection we are excited to work directly with apple farmers and bring to consumers the true cider terroirs across our home state.”

Newtown Pippin is made from 100% Newtown Pippin apples harvested in 2017 from Five Mile Orchards, an orchard that has been growing apples for nearly a century. Single-varietal ciders, like Newtown Pippin, are unique in their ability to capture an experience based around a specific variety of apple from a specific time and place.

The drier climate of the Pajaro Valley creates concentrated aromatics with intense, rich notes of honey, melon, lemon, lime and grassy meadows. On the palate, the mouthfeel is full, yet crisp, likely due to the cool marine air that flows through the valley at night. Rich flavors of caramelized honey, apple skin, peppercorn and apple brandy in tandem with an 8.4% ABV, brings out a perceived touch of sweetness to this bone-dry cider.

Part of Golden State Cider’s brand mission is to help “Save the Gravenstein,” an apple that used to dominate the landscape that Golden State Cider calls home, but no longer does for numerous reasons. The cidery want to change this story by bringing back the Gravenstein to Sonoma County and also help other farms and communities across California revive traditional apple varietals by increasing consumer awareness and making them commercially viable through cider making.

Golden State Cider also grows over 100 varieties of heirloom, dry-farmed organic apples in their own orchards in Sebastopol, California. These apples, along with apples from their friends' neighboring farms are used to create the Harvest Series, their field blend ciders. This series highlights their local Sonoma County terroir during each harvest season. In 2018, they have released the Elder Tree (Arkansas Black dominant) and Fool’s Gold (20 Golden varieties) so far.

To follow Golden State Cider’s next California Farms Cider Collection release, check their website out at DrinkGoldenState.com. Photos provided by Golden State Cider.


Crispin Rosé to Launch Slim Cans in September

Crispin Rosé is launching slim cans nationwide this September to kickoff the fall. The 12-ounce cans, which will be packaged initially in six-packs, are wrapped entirely in dusty pink and have an eye-catching, translucent glimmer.

They give the brand a premium feel and “a really clean and modern look, especially when compared to other cider brands,” explained Stephanie Zipp, associate marketing manager for Crispin Cider Co. “They’re sleek and unapologetically target females, something we’re definitely not shying away from.”

While Crispin Rosé will continue in six-packs of 12-ounce glass bottles, the slim cans with the same liquid open the brand to new drinking occasions, especially for outdoor venues such as the beach, pools, festivals and outdoor patios, Zipp says. Perhaps your local amphitheater or stadium too.

The pink-hued hard cider, which is made with rose petals, hibiscus and a blend of fresh-pressed apples and pears, has pushed the Crispin franchise to growth in 2018; sales volume is up 25.6 percent year to date and it ranks as the No. 18 new item across all beer and cider for the last 13 weeks, according to Nielsen all-outlet and convenience data through June 23.

Rosé-branded hard ciders, as a whole, have exploded this year, leading the cider category back to growth for the first time since 2015, with sales volume up 9.8 percent year to date, per Nielsen. They represent one of the beer and cider industry’s most-overt volleys to recruit consumers back from wine and spirits, which have been growing share and stealing occasions from beer for several years. Rosé wine, in particular, has been hot, posting growth of more than 50 percent in 2017, a trend driven by women ages 21 to 34.

With the introduction of rosé hard ciders, cider makers, such as Crispin, have taken cues from what’s working in the wine industry. Moving into slim cans is another example; canned wine grew 91 percent in 2017 and continues on a torrid pace this year, according to Nielsen all-outlet and liquor store data.

Of the more than a dozen rosé-branded hard ciders on the market, Crispin is aiming to become the first nationally distributed slim can of rosé hard cider. Among the larger producers, Original Sin, Wölffer and Anheuser-Busch-owned Virtue package their rosé-branded hard ciders in cans and Boston Beer Co.’s Angry Orchard is testing slim cans in select markets.

“We fully expect this to be a year-round product,” Zipp says. “We’ll get a nice boost from it for the remainder of this year, and we’re really excited to see what we can do with it as part of our refreshed lineup in 2019.”

To view the entire Crispin portfolio and learn more about Crispin Rosé, visit CrispinCider.com. Credit photos to Crispin Cider/MillerCoors a MolsonCoors Company.


Five Freshly Released Ciders

Before summer comes to a close, check-out these five ciders about to hit shelves for your enjoyment! These five bridge the gap between beer, wine and spirits making them great for occasions.

1. Woodchuck, Bubbly Rosť - One of two new offerings inspired by wine from Woodchuck. This cider is crafted using a blend of red apples and back sweetened with fresh juice to deliver a balanced cider with a pink hue and elevated carbonation for a 6.1% ABV, sparkling, crisp, fruit forward taste. It will be available this September in 12-ounce six-pack cans for a suggested retail price of $9.99.

“So often when you speak to people unfamiliar with the cider category there is a lot of confusion about how cider is made and what it tastes like,” said Bridget Blacklock, Vice President of Marketing. “We believe by introducing ciders that have similar profiles to wine and deliver drier taste characteristics we can expand the consumer cider experience and showcase hard ciders’ ability to offer varieties to fit every drinkers palette.”

2. Woodchuck, Bubbly Pearsecco – The second new variety from Woodchuck is a dry, bubbly pear cider with a crisp, clean finish and an ABV of 6.1%, taking inspiration from sparkling wine, which is experiencing exceptional growth like rosé. This cider will be available come September and will retail for $10.99 per 12-ounce six-pack of cans.

3. Blake’s Hard Cider, Rosť - The Michigan-based cidery, Blake’s Hard Cider, released their Rosé in bottles this month (cans will be released in October), made of their 100% apple cider blend and sweet Michigan strawberries, with the addition of rose hips to give the semi-sweet cider the perfect balance of flavor.

“This recipe was a little more difficult to master,” said Blake’s Cider Maker, Matt Wiles. “We wanted to get that nice Rosé color from all-natural ingredients. Getting the right amount of sweetness took a few trials as well.”

Chelsea Iadipaolo, Blake’s Marketing Manager, added, “We sampled Rosé wines and ciders from across the country and spent time really dialing in our recipe; it’s so balanced and the perfect cider for any occasion.” The Blake’s website features their Rosé on its own, but also paired up with different cocktail recipes for different seasons.

4. Austin Eastciders, Lemon Ginger – The first offering in the Maker’s Stash series, a new experimental line of limited release ciders from Austin Eastciders, is a Lemon Ginger cider that became available last month in select cities in Texas (Austin & Dallas) and New York city, available in six-pack cans.

“Maker’s Stash Lemon Ginger blends bright, acidic lemons with slightly spicy ginger and plays beautifully with our crisp, dry cider,” said Brittany Perlo, R&D Manager at Austin Eastciders. “Flexing our creative muscles with flavor experimentation is one of the best parts of the job.”

Each iteration of the Maker’s Stash series will feature unique can artwork. The inaugural “can”-vas was created by local Austin, Texas, artist, Lauren Dickens. “When creating the art for Maker’s Stash Lemon Ginger, it was important for me to convey a sense of energy and ‘pow’ since those flavors are really vibrant on the palate,” said Dickens. “Together they create something stratifying and memorable, and my hope is that the art demonstrates that as well.”

5. Virtue Cider, Cherry Mitten – Cherry Mitten is a Virtue Cider fan favorite made with bourbon barrel-aged cider and local Michigan tart cherries but to step it up a notch and make this release limited and special, the cider makers aged this batch of Cherry Mitten in Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout barrels. The cider is available in 765ml bottles, while supplies last, at the Virtue Bottle Shop in Fennville, Michigan.

“You can expect lots of bold cherry flavor, a little cocoa, a little vanilla, and even a little cinnamon. I liken it to a cherry cordial,” explained James Bothwell, one of Virtue’s cider makers. “If you like cherry cordials you’re going to love this cider.”

Bothwell continued to explain that the cider makers have always wanted to get their hands on Bourbon County Brand Stout Barrels from Goose Island but were only able to do so about a year and half ago. “We chose a very neutral cider (Cherry Mitten) that wouldn’t overpower what we were trying to get out of the barrels. We picked that cider, threw it in the barrels and let it age about six to eight weeks. We took that cider out of the barrels and threw it on top of Balaton and Schaerbeek cherries, let it age on the fruit itself for another three to four weeks, and when it was good to go, we transferred it to one of our big tanks for bottling and kegging.”

Accompanying photos to each cider courtesy of respective cider company.


Laird’s ‘Bottled In Bond’ Apple Brandy Back on Shelves

Laird & Company, America’s oldest family-owned, licensed distillery, announced the return of Laird’s Bottled in Bond 100 Proof Straight Apple Brandy (Laird’s Bonded) after a four-year hiatus. Long a darling of the craft bartending community and discerning tipplers, Laird’s Bonded will again be available in bars, restaurants and retail stores beginning in late Summer 2018 in 750ml bottles at the suggested retail price of $31.99 per bottle. It sets the category’s benchmarks for quality and integrity. 

“We are delighted to bring back Laird’s Bonded,” says Lisa Laird Dunn, Executive Vice President and World Ambassador of Laird & Company. “It holds such appeal for cocktail enthusiasts because it harkens back to our historical applejack recipe that was popular during the first golden age of the cocktail in the late 1800s. We are one of only a handful of producers of a bonded apple brandy. Sip-worthy and versatile, it is unsurpassed in flavor, authenticity and quality.”

Congress passed the Bottled-in-Bond Act in 1897 to combat the increasing amount of fraudulent and sometimes dangerous whiskey being sold in the late 19th century. Bonded products were a quality guarantee to the consumer that the spirit would be aged undiluted and unadulterated. Today, the U.S. Department of Treasury/TTB (Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau) oversees the designation.

There are four requirements for a spirit to be designated “Bottled in Bond:”

  • Bottled at no less than 50% ABV (100 proof)

  • Aged in wood for a minimum of four years

  • Distilled at one American distillery

  • Distilled in the same season

“Simply put, we could not produce enough Apple Brandy in a single season to fulfill the Federal requirement for the designation,” adds Laird Dunn. “To address this, we ramped up inventory by doubling our production in the Fall and adding a Spring distillation. As a result, there will be plenty of Laird’s Bonded for all 50 states, as well as our export markets.” Laird Dunn noted that the increased demand from bartenders globally led to the depletion of Laird’s aged-brandy inventory more quickly than they could replenish it. The Straight 100 offering was intended to replace the Bonded offering in the interim while the company replenished their aged inventory. Now that the company has the inventory needed it is their intent to continually produce Bottled-in-Bond.

Laird’s Bonded is made of a variety of apples, which you would normally come across in a grocery store or farmer’s market including Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Staymans and Winesap predominately. After the distillation of the cider, the apple brandy is then aged in once used bourbon casks. Laird Dunn explained that the best expression of Laird’s Bottled in Bond is use in cocktails such as a Manhattan or an Old Fashioned.

Laird’s holds the first recorded date for a commercial transaction for cider spirits (1780) and is now led by its eighth and ninth generation father-daughter team of Larrie Laird and Lisa Laird Dunn out of Scobeyville, New Jersey. To find Laird’s Bonded near you and learn more about America’s oldest family-owned, licensed distillery, visit LairdAndCompany.com. Photos provided by Laird & Company.


Ciders to Sip On This Hop Harvest

Did you know hops were first recorded to be used in cider as early as 1678? In Vinetum Britannicum, Englishman John Worlidge recommended using hops to preserve low-alcohol cider, but said nothing about hopping for flavor. Hops then continued to be recommended as a preservative for low-alcohol ciders through the nineteenth century. However, cider has come a long way since the days of the first English settlers. Today you can find a bounty of innovative ciders that have taken inspiration from beer, wine and spirits.  You can find traditional, fruit, dessert, spiced, and barrel-aged ciders, plus the list goes on, including hopped cider – different today from the late 1600s.

Hopped ciders, defined by the United States Association of Cider Makers, are simply ciders with added hops.  Depending on the hops added and production process used, you will find these ciders to have an intense hop aroma, flavor and/or bitterness; and their appearance will range from brilliant to hazy, depending on the cider maker’s intention. 

For some top-notch examples of great hopped ciders, you can look at 2018’s Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP) ‘Best in Class’ category award winners:

Commercial Winners

  • First Place: C Squared Ciders, Ella – A medium-dry India pale cider.  Ella and Azacca hops were added to create aromas of pineapple and tropical fruit that meld into green apple flavors with a clean, crisp, and mildly bitter finish.

  • Second Place: Citizen Cider, The Full Nelson – A dry and hoppy cider that was made from Nelson Sauvin hops to create a champagne-like cider with added hoppiness and bitterness.

  • Third Place: Meriwether Cider Co., Hop Shot – This hopped cider sparkles on the tongue with distinct citrus and floral notes.  It is a semi-dry cider that is dry-hopped with Citra hops.

For all commercial hopped cider medalists, please visit GLINTCAP.org.

Non-Commercial Hopped Cider Silver* Medalists

  • Brendon George – Upper Left Apples

  • Eric Mangum – MCC Hopped Cider

  • Spencer Morse – Cornerman

  • Michelle Pagano – 10:10

*Gold medals were not awarded in the non-commercial category this year.
For all non-commercial hopped cider winners, please visit GLINTCAP.org.

In honor of hop season’s arrival, here are also 10 of Hard Cider News' favorite hopped ciders for you to look out for this hop harvest:

1. Graft, Cloud City – Cyan District (Newburgh, New York): The cider makers at Graft take a lot of influences from the craft beer community and have quite an extensive portfolio of hopped ciders. More than one of their ciders could easily be featured in this list but our favorite is Cyan District. This cider has a 6.9% ABV and is made with Citra hops, passion fruit, orange zest, milk sugar and vanilla. The result is a cider that is hazy looking with hop, passion fruit, and dreamsicle notes in the taste that is also sour but balanced so you have the best qualities of both passion fruit and apples. This is not a year-round hop cider but look out for any of Graft’s hopped ciders such as their flagship Lost Tropic or a selection from their Book of Nomad – Secret’s of Orion collection which all contain hops.

2. Threadbare, Dry-Hopped (Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania): A traditional tart off-dry (2% residual sugar) cider with a citrusy fragrance and wave of tart apple flavor without the bitterness. They use Mosaic, Amarillo and Centennial hops which result in an 8% ABV cider with notes of tangerine, peach, papaya, rose, melon and lemon.

3. Stowe Cider, Safety Meeting (Stowe, Vermont): This cider is dry-hopped and made with the popular Citra and Galaxy hops, adding a familiar aroma and flavor to beer lovers at 6.5% ABV. It packs a slightly bigger punch of hops than most hopped ciders while still maintaining its cider base that is light, refreshing and lively.

4. Western Cider, Poor Farmer Hopped (Missoula, Montana): At 6.5% ABV this cider has a rich, flaxen color with notes of pineapple, honeydew and fir aroma, and refreshing layers of candied lemon peel, kiwi and starfruit for the taste. Western Cider’s cider makers use El Dorado hops which add the citrus and floral notes to the semi-dry cider crafted from fresh-pressed apples.

5. Cidergeist, Dry Hopped (Cinncinati, Ohio): Since this cider comes from the same makers of Rhinegeist beer, it’s clear that the company knows what to do with hops. As it’s name suggests, the cider is dry hopped with Centennial hops from the Pacific Northwest for citrus aromatics but leaves the apple in the taste along with a dry, 6.2% ABV.

6. Bold Rock, IPA (Nellysford, Virginia): With a 4.7% ABV, IPA (India Pressed Apple), is dry-hopped with a blend of five hops including Cascade, Centennial and Citra. The cider blends the tartness of fresh-pressed apples with the slightly sweet notes of passion fruit, grapefruit and citrus. IPA has a lighter hopped character than other hopped ciders but is well-balanced.

7. Stem Ciders, Hopped Apple Cider (Denver, Colorado): Dry-hopped with Cascade and Citra hops, this 6.7% ABV cider has notes of floral and citrus fruit that intermingle with apple on the nose giving way to a tart apple zing without any bitterness. The hops in this cider are all in the aroma giving the beer enthusiast what they are looking for but the cider lover the beverage they enjoy.

8. Reverend Nat’s, Hallelujah Hopricot (Portland, Oregon): The cider makers at Reverend Nat’s make this cider once a year (in the fall) just as the hops are being harvested. They use fresh-from-the-field Cascade hops from Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn, Oregon – having the hops bought, transported, and in tanks in three hours! One week later, you can enjoy this 6.9% ABV cider with all of its abundance of grassy, nutty, and herbal notes. This cider is a truly limited/seasonal cider only available during hop season to stay fresh.

9. Prospect Ciderworks, Missing Link (Boston, Massachusetts): This 4.8% ABV semi-sweet cider has a citrus-forward aroma, hop-forward taste that still retains the subtleties of the apple, and finish of soft bitterness, all of which were obtained from the use of Mosaic hops.

10. Finnriver, Dry Hopped Cider (Chimacum, Washington): To produce this cider, Finnriver cider makers ferment 100% organic apple juice, pressed from Washington apples, to dry sweetness, then steep the juice with organic whole-leaf Cascade hops for up to two weeks, for added depth and flavor. It is a lightly carbonated cider made of primarily dessert apples including Granny Smith, Pink Lady, Braeburn and Gala. The finished cider is crisp and refreshing with floral and citrus flavors. It is off-dry, bright and grassy with grapefruit and pine notes at 6.5% ABV. 

Photos courtesy of each respective cider brand. Compiled by: Staff Writer, Kristen Sarcone, and Editor, Kristyn Dolan.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Apple & Sausage Macaroni and Cheese
From Farideh Sadeghin on Saveur

Honeycrisp Sangria
From Self Proclaimed Foodie

Photo Credit: Farideh Sadeghin

Photo Credit: Krissy Allori