Hard Cider Newsletter

Thompson’s Cider Mill Debuts Artisanal Hard Ciders for Cider Week Hudson Valley

New York’s Thompson’s Cider Mill formally launched its artisanal hard ciders at a special kick-off tasting at RiverMarket Bar and Kitchen in Tarrytown, NY, the first restaurant to offer the hard ciders on tap and in bottles. The launch, which took place on June 13, coincided with Cider Week Hudson Valley.

At the gathering, Thompson’s Hard Ciders were paired with farm-to-table fare prepared by RiverMarket. The dry and semi-dry ciders are crafted in Westchester, NY, from heirloom and specialty apples from the Cider Mill’s own orchard as well as other Hudson Valley orchards with whom Thompson has long-time relationships.  The fresh juice is pressed and fermented in small batches at the Cider Mill founded 42 years ago in southwest Yorktown near Croton-on-Hudson.

“In Great Britain and northern France, cider is readily available. Virtually every pub in England and Ireland offers it on tap as standard fare. We have worked to come up with crisp dry and semi-dry ciders that are reflective of their abiding traditions, but with an artisanal New York/Hudson Valley flare,” said Cider Mill founder Geoff Thompson. “The terroir of Westchester and the Hudson Valley offers the ideal combination of climate, soil and sun to produce some of the world’s best apples.  We work with more than 30 varieties in crafting ciders that are light and bright on the palate as well as food-friendly.”

Fifteen years ago, Thompson began experimenting with making apple wine, which he still produces, in limited quantities.  “I developed knowledge and skill, but not enough to be able to attain a consistent, high-quality finished product,” he says.  “When I started, virtually no one knew what I was talking about. But over the last five or six years, as craft brewing grew in popularity, hard cider caught on. When my long-time fresh cider customers began asking me why I didn’t offer hard cider, I realized that the time had come to get serious about what I had started all those years before.” 

The key to moving forward came when he aligned with Dan O’Brien, a trained cider maker.  A food scientist, he had worked with PepsiCo before exiting the corporate world to work in the California wine industry for four and a half years.  He then moved with his family back to New York and began trying his hand with home cider making.

O’Brien’s Yorktown Heights home was only 10 minutes from Thompson’s Mill, and he had recognized the quality of the fresh cider Thompson produced. He began filling 5-gallon glass carboys of the raw juice to ferment into hard cider at home.  And as tends to happen at the Cider Mill, which is open weekends from September to Christmas, Thompson and O’Brien got chatting about their mutual interest in hard cider.  So, it wasn’t surprising that when Thompson decided to make a formal move into hard cider production, O’Brien was the first person he called.

“We hit it off and Dan was interested in putting the cider making skills he had honed in both the U.S. and England to work, and off we went,” said Thompson.  O’Brien, Thompson and Thompson’s wife, Liz, started by tasting nearly 100 hard ciders from across the U.S., Canada and Europe. “The ciders covered the gamut from semi-dry to very sweet, to spicy and everything in between,” he said. “There were some good ones, but in the end, we unanimously concluded that we liked dry and semi-dry and that the ciders we liked best were those that Dan had made at home with our juice.  With that, our direction was set.”

With the necessary federal and state permits in hand, Thompson and O’Brien began a limited production last spring and by fall an initial run had been bottled.  “That gave us enough sparkling dry hard cider to let people try it, and we could gauge their reaction,” Thompson says.  “The problem was, that even though it was only available at our Mill, it was such a hit that in about six weeks we burned through the 180 or so cases we had made.  The good news was that we knew we were onto something and with last fall’s bumper crop of apples, we were able to significantly increase production for this year and we added a semi-dry (1% sugar).”

Thompson said the plan is to increase production at a sustainable pace. “We have a number of high-quality restaurants that have agreed to feature our ciders, and in the coming weeks we will begin to expand our distribution while not getting too far ahead of ourselves.  We have additional cider that is ready to be bottled depending on demand. We’ll provide updates on the Cider Mill website and via Facebook.”

RiverMarket was chosen for the formal unveiling because of Thompson’s long-time friendship with owner Glenn Vogt, a respected wine expert.  “Glenn has been a strong supporter and has encouraged me to move forward with this venture from the early days,” Thompson says. “And RiverMarket’s manager and long-time chief bartender, Emilio Ugarte, has been super-enthusiastic and supportive.  They said they would love to host the launch, and we were honored to take them up on their offer.” 

Thompson concluded, “On the one hand this is something new, but on the other it is like welcoming a long-lost friend into the house. With Dan O’Brien as cider maker par excellence, with the encouragement and support of Liz, my family and so many long-time restauranteurs, friends and cider aficionados, I truly believe that this could be the start of something sensibly big.”

For more information on Thompson’s Cider Mill or to visit them, check out their website at ThompsonsCiderMill.com. Photos provided by Thompson’s Cider Mill.


Bold Rock Releases New Summer Seasonal

Bold Rock Hard Cider announced the release of their newest seasonal style, Blackberry Cider. Available on shelves this month, Blackberry Cider is a fruit-forward blend featuring a tart, semi-dry finish.

Blackberry Cider originated with a challenge to Bold Rock cider makers: create the perfect Summer beverage, refreshing but not overly sweet. The result is a hard apple cider underpinned by the beloved Summer berry, allowing for a fruit-forward cider bursting with rich notes of blackberry on the nose paired with a distinctive tartness and touch of sweetness on the finish. This enjoyable union of flavors will undoubtedly keep consumers going back for that next sip on hot Summer days.

“After the success of our Spring Seasonal in the Bold Rock Rosé, we knew that our loyal customers were expecting an exciting and creative seasonal release for the Summer,” said Bold Rock Head Cider Maker Ward Beveridge. “We chose the blackberry because of its distinctive aromas and clean, tart finish that perfectly balances the natural sweetness of apples.”

Founded in 2012, Bold Rock produces a variety of hard cider styles from apples harvested in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina. The award-winning craft cider company now has over 100 full-time employees and operates two cideries – the original Bold Rock Cider Barn in Nellysford, Va., which features an innovative production facility and tasting room overlooking the Rockfish River, and a recently expanded second production facility and tap room located in the bucolic pastures of Mills River, N.C.

Bold Rock features 12 styles of hard cider, including the popular originals, Apple and Draft, a rotating mix of seasonal selections, and IPA (India Pressed Apple), a top-selling hopped cider. These innovative varieties of cider have found favor with a wide range of customers and critical acclaim throughout the industry, as Bold Rock has won over 100 awards in hard cider and wine competitions since first launching.

Blackberry Cider will be available on shelves throughout Bold Rock’s distribution footprint, which includes 10 states between Eastern Pennsylvania and Georgia. To find Bold Rock’s Blackberry Cider, visit them online at BoldRock.com. Photos courtesy of Bold Rock Hard Cider.


Five Ciders for National Iced Tea Month

Tea was used as an ingredient in alcoholic punches as far back as the early 1700s; and although tea has been sipped hot in America since the colonial days, non-alcoholic tea wasn’t widely consumed on ice until the turn of the 19th century. It is believed that prohibition and the increasing availability of home refrigeration (with freezers) in the 1920s and ‘30s – not to mention the greater affordability of tea itself –propelled iced tea to its popularity today.

This month, for National Iced Tea Month, enjoy tea like the generations before you…with alcohol! You’ll find all these five ‘tea’ ciders just as refreshing as a glass of iced tea on a warm summer’s day by the pool or at the beach. You can even get fancy and garnish some of these ciders with a lemon slice!

Outlaw Cider Company
Tea-Rex Hard Cider

Outlaw Cider Company’s Tea-Rex is a semi-dry cider made with Gunpowder green tea, earl grey tea and wildflower honey.  This cider is crisp and refreshing, perfect for relaxing on your porch after a long day! Photo courtesy of Outlaw Cider.

Grapevine, TX
6.2% ABV

Noble Hard Cider
The Spice Merchant

Noble Hard Cider’s Spice Merchant is made with freshly brewed AppalaChai chai tea.  It is packed with loads of spice aromas, such as cinnamon, cardamom, clove and anise.   This cider is semi-sweet with astringent tea finish, almost like breakfast in a can!

Asheville, NC
6.5% ABV


Ironbound Hard Cider
Summer Cider

Inspired by summers down on the Jersey shore, Summer Cider is a blend of the cidery’s popular Ironbound Hard Cider with iced tea and fresh-squeezed lemons.  Summer Cider has a bright apple flavor, a hint of black tea and a citrus finish made perfectly for sipping during any of your favorite summer pastimes. Photo courtesy of Jersey City Works.

Asbury, NJ
4.2% ABV

War Horse Brewing Company
Red Apple Bombshell Apple Pomer

Apple Pomer is the newest edition to the Red Apple Bombshell portfolio that is part of the War Horse Brewing Company brand owned by Three Brothers Winery.  Apple Pomer is an infusion of Bombshell hard apple cider and lemon iced tea.  This combination creates an incredibly refreshing and easy to drink cider.  Serve this cider on ice and garnish with a lemon for the best experience. Photo courtesy of Three Brothers Winery.

Geneva, NY
7.0% ABV


Blue Toad Hard Cider
Toadally Tea

Toadally Tea is a blend of three apples with tea leaves, which creates a light and refreshing hard cider that is semi-dry and has medium sweetness. This smooth cider emulates an Arnold Palmer and will keep you cool and refreshed.  Photo courtesy of Blue Toad Hard Cider.

Roseland, VA
5.0% ABV

Compiled by: Kristen Sarcone, Staff Writer of Hard Cider News


Anyday Rosé Launches on National Rosé Day

Anyday Rosé, a new brand offering premium rosé beverages perfect for anyone on any occasion, introduced its flagship canned rosé cider in celebration of National Rosé Day this month. The rosé cider is available for purchase now online via the brand’s website and Venmo, making it the first wine brand on the market to accept transactions using the social payment’s platform.

Anyday Rosé enters the rapidly growing single-serve canned wine market engendering male and female customers alike to enjoy products traditionally tailored predominantly to women.

Founders behind the brand include former NFL player Pat McAfee of the Indianapolis Colts, Louis Roberts of Barstool Sports, and expert winemakers Andrew Jones of Tin City Cider and Michael Zinke of Zinke Wines. Upon realizing a mutual affinity for the crisp, dry taste of a quality rosé blend, the team decided to create a new alternative accessible to a wider, gender-neutral audience.

“After being converted to rosé cider myself, I took notice of friends reaching for the beverage first instead of choosing a beer,” said Roberts. “We realized the enormous potential, along with the market need, and embarked on a mission to make the best rosé cider out there that can be enjoyed on any occasion - it had to be equal parts cool and affordable.”

While the company is based in New York, its rosé is crafted in the heart of the central coast wine region in Paso Robles, CA. Anyday combines a blend of 85 percent crisp cider and 15 percent rosé wine with hops, containing an alcohol content of 6.9 percent. The 375 milliliter cans, designed to match the flexible lifestyle of its customers, are available in packs of 8, 24, 96 and 365 (one for each day of the year) retailing at $32, $84, $312 and $1200, respectively.

“We’ve developed an incredible product that I’m very proud of - a versatile drink I can enjoy with my friends any day of the week, any day of the year,” said McAfee. “I’m excited to launch this product alongside all-star content and commerce teams and continue my entrepreneurial career.”

The Anyday team plans to launch additional canned wine products later this year and will also consider expanding into retail distribution in the near future. The canned rosé cider is available now on AnydayRose.com. Photos courtesy of Anyday Rosé.


Strongbow Original Dry Is Back In The US

America spoke. Strongbow listened. Strongbow Hard Ciders is bringing back Original Dry after more than 100,000 loyal fans from across the US cried out on social media, call centers and snail mail that they could no longer find their favorite dry cider from the UK. That means starting this month, people can once again find Strongbow Original Dry at retailers and on tap nationwide.

Original Dry is produced by H.P Bulmer, a cider company with over 130 years of British lineage and a coveted Royal Warrant. With less residual sugars than other brands, Original Dry is the ultimate expression of a dry cider made with a blend of bittersweet apples that are grown exclusively in Strongbow's own orchards in the UK.

"Dry is the number one cider in cider's biggest market – the UK – and has always been a favorite with die-hard cider fans here – but what we're seeing now is more people opening up to drier, more balanced flavors," said Paul van der Aar, Master Brewer and Director of Quality and NPI Management at Heineken USA. "In addition to sweeter flavors, people are craving a wider range of options – from sweet to dry which is why Strongbow Hard Ciders is continuing to evolve and expand their range of flavors to meet the demands of the ever-evolving American palate."

Sales of 'semi-sweet' and 'dry' ciders grew double digits last year according to Nielsen. Strongbow Rosé Apple, which has 50% less sugar than the other leading hard ciders, just received a top award at the 2018 World Cider Championships due to its delicate natural balance between semi-dry, slightly sweet and tart.

Original Dry returns to a lineup of Strongbow flavors including Gold Apple, Artisanal Blend, Cherry Blossom and Rosé Apple. Original Dry has 5% ABV and is available nationally in both 16.9oz single serve and 4-pack 16.9oz cans. To learn more or find Strongbow Original Dry near you, visit the product locator at Strongbow.com, and follow Strongbow on Instagram and Facebook.


Enjoy Oregon Cider Week With More Than 30 Events to Attend

The Northwest Cider Association kicked off the 7th Annual Oregon Cider Week this Thursday, June 21 with 10 days of cider-filled fun coordinated by cider makers across the state of Oregon. Cider Week, a celebration of all things cider, invites everyone from cider makers to chefs, to showcase Northwest cider in a variety of special events, featured menus, happy hours, tap takeovers and more. Highlight events include:

Cirque d’Schilling is a cider carnival coming to town on Saturday, June 23, from 2pm-6pm at Schilling Cider House to celebrate not only Oregon Cider Week but Schilling’s one year anniversary. This adult only carnival will have 10+ cider vendors with more than 25 different ciders for you to taste. Tickets are $25 in advance ($30 at the door) and get you a pint glass and five tasting tickets good for one drink each. While enjoying ciders, you can take part in numerous activities including a dunk tank, ring toss, henna tattoos, face painting, and much more! Click here to purchase your tickets in advance.

The Oregon Cider Week 5K Fun Run will take place on Sunday, June 24, at 11am at Portland Cider Co.’s Clackamas location. Portland Cider Co. is partnering up with the Oregon Brewery Running Series for a cider 5k, where participants walk, jog, or run approximately 3.1 miles, then drink cider. Everyone is invited to enjoy the day’s entertainment: live music, great food –– including BBQ from the owners of Portland Cider Co. –– giveaways and activities with partners and sponsors. Everyone receives a craft cider, and collector pint glass or seasonal swag item. Ten percent of proceeds help support the Oregon Brewshed Alliance, Dollar For Portland, and Life Vest Inside. Registration is limited. General participation is $30 but there are options that include t-shirts, if desired. Click here to register. Photo below courtesy of Portland Cider Co.

Enjoy the History & Science of Cider in an educational class featuring cider tastings from across the world, including those true to the modern northwest cider craft. The class will take place on Monday, June 25 from 7pm to 9pm at Cider Riot! and offer an in-depth look at the history, process, and modern interpretation of cider. Limited to 36 guests, this is intended to be a personal, intimate gathering for cider lovers Oregon-wide. Early bird tickets are currently on sale for $25. Click here to purchase your tickets.

The 2Towns Cider Curious Comedy Showdown is being held on Tuesday, June 26, at 7:30pm. 2Towns Cider is presenting a competitive improv showdown, where talented players from the Curious Comedy Theater combine audience suggestions with their own sharp wit and duke it out in an event that’s dubbed “The Hunger Games of Comedy.” Tickets are $30 in advance and $35 at the door. Click here to purchase tickets.

The OMSI After Dark: Ciderfest is taking place on Wednesday, June 27, from 7:00pm-11:00pm at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry (OMSI). The latest installment in OMSI’s After Dark series wades through the history, tradition and science that goes into the cider making process. While enjoying cider, you’ll also be able to enjoy the museum learning about robots, tornadoes, fossils and more. Tickets start at $15 but vary by option. Click here to see options and buy tickets.

The 8th Annual Cider Summit PDX will take place Friday, June 29 and Saturday, June 30, at the Fields Neighborhood Park in the Pearl. This year's Cider Summit will feature over 150 regional and international ciders, cider cocktails and apple spirits. The event is Oregon Cider Week’s largest event and finishes out the celebrations of the week. VIP tickets include a souvenir tasting glass, 16 tasting tickets, and exclusive entry on Friday from 2pm-3pm for $40. General admission tickets include a souvenir tasting glass and 12 tasting tickets for $30 if purchased online prior to the event ($35 at the door). Additional tasting tickets can be purchased at the event for $2 each, as well as designated driver tickets for $5, which include a bottle of water. Additional information can be found on the Cider Summit Portland website. Click here to purchase tickets.

View the full list of Oregon Cider Week events at OregonCiderWeek.com.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Chicken Breasts Braised with Hard Cider, Bacon & Parsnips
From A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Hard Cider Sour
From Elle Talk

Photo Credit: Brenda of A Farmgirl’s Dabbles

Photo Credit: Elle of Elle Talk