Hard Cider Newsletter

Family-Owned Romilly Cidre Expands Their Artisanal French Cidre Distribution

Ferme de Romilly of Normandy, France, has expanded their artisanal French cidre distribution throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and California. Third-generation cidre maker, Benjamin Renaud (29), of Normandy’s 11th century Romilly Farm has crashed the U.S. cider scene with a year of unprecedented competition wins and steady expansion.

Unsure if the U.S. market would embrace the distinct Normandy approach to cidre making, the complex flavors and depth of character of Romilly Cidres has captivated judges and beer, wine and cider fans. Romilly’s Demi-Sec garnered the highest rated international cider in the 2017 World Cider Championships in Chicago. Additionally, a first place win in the 2017 U.S. Cider Open Championships was topped by an unprecedented category sweep in the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP), the world’s largest cider competition, earlier this year. Remarkably, in the 2018 World Cider Championships, Romilly Dry was awarded a tasting score of 95 points – the highest tasting score in the history of the competition for a commercial craft apple cider.

Launched in June 2017, the success of Romilly is due to the cultivation of more than 32 varieties of rare, French heritage apples at Ferme de Romilly exclusively used in the production of cidre and calvados.  The apples are a mix of bittersweet, bittersharp, bitter and tart apples that are native to Normandy. With each harvest, calling on a thousand years of cidre making knowledge, the cidre makers select and blend eight apple varieties with champagne yeasts added to start fermentation. Skilled primary and secondary aging yields masterful and distinct styles of cidre including: 

  • Doux (sweet; 4.6% ABV) – huge apple flavors, refreshing with a hint of complexity

  • Demi-sec (half-dry; 4.6% ABV) – powerful apples and distinct earthiness that pairs with many foods

  • Brut (dry; 4.9% ABV) – profound complexity, restrained apple flavors

  • Extra Brut (extra dry; 5.9% ABV) – dry with hints of apple and restrained funk

  • Rosé (4.4% ABV) – elegant, balanced, easy to drink and easy to pair

Suggested retail price per bottle ranges from $13.99-$15.99.

“The rich flavors and complexity, the gorgeous bouquets, are derived from combining ancient apple varieties, champagne yeasts and the unique terroir of the coastal Norman countryside,” explained Proprietor Benjamin Renaud. “We grow all the apples in our orchards and age the cidres for as long as three years before they are released. We add no sugar, water or chemicals. It is a lot of work, but it is the pride of our family.  People want to know the names of the apples and yeasts we use, but we keep our granpère’s secrets.” Defending the orchards is the primary responsibility of Orton and Toscane, the resident Golden Retrievers.

The Romilly farm only minutes from Omaha Beach (France) has gained increasing prominence in Normandy as the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion approaches in June 2019. Further, the farm hosts thousands of American visitors each year. There may be few places overseas where American tourists are more welcomed than in Normandy, France. The connection and bonds shared between the Normandy French and Americans were a strong consideration in making the decision to introduce Romilly’s products to the USA. Plus, visitors routinely inquire on if the products are available in the U.S. This is also why Romilly Cidres can be found on and off premise throughout New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, California and Florida. National shipping arrangements can also be made through KandWLiquor.com, as well as EnglewoodWineMerchants.com.

Cheval Rouge Imports of Franklin Square, New York, imports Ferme de Romilly Cidres and jams.  Determined to make a positive environmental and community impact with the cidres’ success, Cheval has partnered with Rainforest Trust to purchase a half acre of rainforest for each bottle of cidre sold.  They have also focused on doing tastings for charities and events, as well, and welcome inquiries from charities. Visit RomillyCidre.com to contact the staff and learn more! Photos courtesy of Romilly Cidre.


Meet the Cider Makers: Swilled Dog Hard Cider

We caught up with brother and sister cider maker duo, Jillian Gallaher and Barry Glover, of Swilled Dog Hard Cider.  Swilled Dog Hard Cider is a family-owned, award-winning hard cider company that was launched in 2016 in Franklin, West Virginia.  Not only is Swilled Dog dedicated to making great cider, but dedicated to making a big impact in their community.  Living by the motto, “Live life. Drink great cider,” Swilled Dog focuses on creating ciders that are big on flavor, not on sugar and passionate about making fun, flavorful, and refreshing hard cider to enjoy with friends and family.

Tell us a little bit about yourself! Where are you from? What is your background in? What is your typical drink of choice?
JG: “I’m Jillian Gallaher, one of the Co-Owners and Cider Makers of Swilled Dog Hard Cider.  I was born and raised in Franklin, WV. I have a background in biology. I have always been interested in fermentation, whether in food or in liquids, and I owe that interest to my grandparents. Growing up I enjoyed watching and learning from my grandparents how to can various foods and make various alcohols. Drink of choice is Swilled Dog Hard Cider, of course.”

BG: “I’m Barry Glover and I’m one of the Co-owners and Cider Makers of Swilled Dog Hard Cider. I’m from Franklin, WV and I have a background in business and my typical drink of choice is Swilled Dog.”  

The cider industry has really taken off in the recent years.  What got you into the cider industry/cider production and when?
JG: “I have been involved in cider making since I was young.  Our family has always had an interest in hard cider.  It was not until my brother presented the family with an idea to share our love for cider with everyone else and to make an impact with our community.  It was a hobby for a long time until our family came together and decided to start Swilled Dog Hard Cider in 2016.”

BG: “I grew up around cider making as my grandfather, uncle and other family members made cider. It was a hobby until we started Swilled Dog.  We saw a need for the type of cider we make.  We believe in using great ingredients to make a great cider and saw a need in the market.” 

With a market that is becoming dense, what are you and your brand inspired by and how are you making a splash within the industry? 
JG:  “At Swilled Dog we are inspired by bringing our customers fun, flavorful, and refreshing hard ciders to enjoy with friends and family during moments that matter the most while making an impact in the communities we serve.  In addition to making great ciders, we love giving back.  Not just our money but our time. In addition to giving at least 1% of all annual sales to local communities and charities, we give our time volunteering at local animal shelters and events that are near and dear to us.  We are passionate about our commitment and look forward to increasing our efforts as our business grows.”

BG:  “We are inspired by the amazing apples we have growing in the state of West Virginia. We want to showcase what West Virginians have been making for generations. We also are extremely passionate about giving back to our local communities. Lastly, we are very proud that we have four female owners in our company that are contributing so much to the cider industry growth in our state and surrounding states.”

The logo, branding and dog mascot looks like something consumers can resonate with. What is the inspiration or story behind the name Swilled Dog Hard Cider, branding and mascot?
JG and BG: “Swilled Dog combines two of the things that matter most in our lives: 1) Enjoying time with family and friends and 2) Dogs!  The word “swilled” dates back to the founding days of our country and how on Election Day, candidates would bring family and friends together to “swill” the votes by throwing a giant party with hard cider as the preferred drink of choice.  Our love for dogs runs throughout our entire company.  Lucy Pickles, our Swilled Dog mascot, has many Swilled Dog cousins and friends and her image on our logo is a representation of all those dogs.”

What is your favorite Swilled Dog cider and why?
JG: “Being one of the cider makers this is a tough question.  It is easy to say that they are all my favorites and that would be the truth.  Honestly, it boils down to the time of year and activity.  During the fall and football season, Pumpkin Patch is my go-to choice.  There is nothing like a taste of fall in a can. During a hot summer day, it is a tossup between Island Vibes and Rosè.  Island Vibes reminds me of lying on the beach and smelling salt water. Rosè goes well with a nice float down the river on an inner tube.  Then you have Walk the Dog and Caramel Apple, my cooler is always stocked with those no matter the time of year.”

BG: “Walk the Dog. It is a traditional cider and reminds me of many of the ciders I grew up with.”
What is your favorite cider and food pairing?
JG:  “Of course my favorite cider is Swilled Dog Hard Cider, but there is nothing like a rack of ribs paired with Walk the Dog; and if you like to smoke your ribs, like I do, I highly recommend adding some Walk the Dog to your smoker to really make those ribs extra juicy and flavorful.”

BG: “Walk the Dog with a great steak.”

With the cider industry expanding, what word describes you and your involvement in the cider industry and what makes your brand different?
JG: “Being a female in the cider industry is becoming more and more prevalent over the years, but being a female cider maker in the industry is still few and far between.  I want to show that I can stand shoulder to shoulder with the boys and to encourage more women to be involved in the cider making world. What makes our brand different is that we focus on giving back first and cider making second.”

BG: “Impact. We really want to make an impact in the industry. What makes us different is our focus on charitable contributions.”

 Any big future plans for you and Swilled Dog Hard Cider? 
JG and BG: “We have a lot of exciting things coming in 2019 for Swilled Dog Hard Cider so you can follow along for all the news on our social media @SwilledDog and at #GetSwilled.”

Interviewed by: Kristen Sarcone, Staff Writer of Hard Cider News. Photos courtesy of Swilled Dog Hard Cider. For more information on Swilled Dog, please visit SwilledDog.com.


New Jersey’s Ironbound Hard Cider Opens Tasting Room

Ironbound Hard Cider, the cidery dedicated to restoring hard cider to its rightful place as New Jersey’s beverage of choice, hosted the grand opening of their new tasting room last month in Asbury, NJ.

The tasting room is located at Ironbound Farm, 360 County Road 579 in Asbury (Exit 11 off of Interstate 78), and is now open Saturdays, 12pm – 8pm, and Sundays, 12pm – 6pm.  Often, you may find food trucks and live music but you will always see the legendary Ironbound outdoor cooking shed in action and have the opportunity to tasting exclusive ciders only available at the tasting room. Visitors can also purchase ciders to-go in addition to tasting them.

Ironbound Hard Cider is made solely from fresh-pressed American apples — from New Jersey and neighboring states — and has a flavor profile and price point designed to fill the market void between overly sweet, mass-produced six-pack ciders and dry, artisanal ciders. The ciders are produced at the 108-acre Hunterdon County farm shared with Ironbound’s sister company, New Ark Farms, which is committed to the revitalization of the Greater Newark economy by focusing on job-creation for the community’s chronically underemployed and formerly incarcerated. The Ironbound brand is available in over 700 bars, restaurants, and retailers throughout the state of New Jersey.

New Jersey has a long history of cider making, especially in Newark where cider was one of the city’s first industries. Celebrated throughout the 18th and 19th centuries, Newark cider was considered by many, including George Washington, to be one of the finest in America.

To see what the food truck schedule is at the tasting room, hours, and special events, visit JerseyCiderWorks.com. Photos credited to Kira Buxton for Ironbound Hard Cider.


Golden State Announces New Executive Team

Golden State Cider (GSC), the pioneering, apple-driven dry cider maker in Sonoma County, announced a new executive team to spearhead the company’s ongoing expansion and growth, earlier this month. The three team members come from some of the most influential brands in the beverage industry including: Rogue Ales, Constellation Brands, Precept Wines and Revive Kombucha.

In 2018, GSC experienced sales growth of over 65% and, this month, the company launched an online retail shop.  Soon, GSC will be opening their first tasting room at the Barlow in Sebastopol and installing high speed canning machinery at their new cider production facility in Healdsburg. These projects will allow more people to experience the quality ciders that differentiate GSC: from using only 100% fresh pressed apples and champagne yeast to post-modern cider making techniques.

Promoted to Chief Executive Officer, Chris Lacey was formerly GSC’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing. Lacey came to GSC with over 13 years of experience in the areas of sales, marketing and business development for wine, beer and spirits; notably growing Constellation Brand’s beer sales at DBI Beverage in San Francisco, developing brand strategies for Precept Wine’s 20 core wine brands in the Pacific Northwest and expanding products and sales at Rogue Ales in Oregon across 50 states and 25 countries. Lacey will be taking over management responsibilities from co-founder Hunter Wade, who will focus on strategic projects moving forward.

"I am excited to lead Golden State Cider into its next stage of growth and development," Lacey said. “It’s been an amazing year and I am grateful to co-founders Jolie and Hunter for having the faith in me to lead the company. I am committed to GSC’s mission to create the highest quality dry ciders while revitalizing the apple industry in California. With the new leadership team, Golden State Cider is well-positioned to lead the growth of the cider segment."

Gary Fleshman joins Golden State Cider as the Director of Sales from Rogue Ales where he was Director of International Sales and Marketing for 11 years. He was instrumental in expanding Rogue’s international distribution from 8 to 54 countries and growing international sales from $195,000 to over $4.2 million. Fleshman has over 25 years of experience in sales and management with companies such as Nike, Intel, as well as Rouge Ales.

Natalie Naber joins Golden State Cider’s executive team as Director of Human Resources and Accounting. Previously Naber served as Golden State Cider’s Accounting and Human Resources Manager. During her time with GSC, she has established and streamlined HR processes and systems to accommodate GSC’s planned growth. Before joining the GSC team, Natalie worked at Revive Kombucha as Accounting Manager.

As Golden State Cider enters its largest sales growth and operational expansion period to date, the three team members are joined by Tim Godfrey, GCS’s Head Cider Maker and Director of Production to round out the new executive team.

Learn more about Golden State Cider, on DrinkGoldenState.com. Photo courtesy of Golden State Cider.


Original Sin Cider Launches a Series of Unfiltered Single Varietal Ciders

Original Sin Hard Cider is announced the upcoming release of a series of unfiltered single-varietal ciders made with freshly pressed New York apples.  These ciders will allow consumers to experience the unique flavor characteristics of a range of classic apples. The first of the series – Original Sin Unfiltered McIntosh Cider – will be available in early December.

Original Sin has selected four iconic apples for the launch of this new product line.  Each of the chosen apples has a long history of being grown in the Finger Lakes and Hudson Valley regions of New York State.  New York is the second-largest apple producing state and boasts the most diverse selection of apple varieties in the country.  This diversity has continued to increase in recent years, as the growth in the U.S. cider industry has helped create a parallel resurgence in American apple culture.

In the early 19th Century (1811), John McIntosh noticed a young apple tree growing on his property in Ontario (Canada) near the U.S. border.  Delighted by the delicious fruit produced by the tree, he sold seeds to his neighbors hoping to popularize this new type of apple.  It took him years to realize that apples do not grow true to seed and that varietal propagation could only be achieved through grafting.  Today, the McIntosh is commonly grown in Canada, the New England region of the United States, and Michigan, in addition to New York.  The aromatic McIntosh with a distinct white flesh and a vinous flavor is coveted for fresh eating and cider production.  Notably, Apple Inc.’s Macintosh computer is named after this well-loved apple.

Learn more about the new McIntosh apple next month and stay tuned for its release on OrigSin.com. Original Sin was established in 1996 by founder, Gidon Coll, as one of the first modern generation of cider makers. Today, the company is still 100% independently owned but now has cider distributed in 30 states and Japan. In 2018, Original Sin sales increased by 50% mostly due to an increase in sales of several highly regarded ciders. The new Original Sin Black Widow cider is one extremely popular style that has developed a cult-like following and even earned a bronze medal at this year’s Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition (GLINTCAP) in the “fruit cider” category.


Common Cider Releases Ginger Pear

Common Cider Company, an Auburn, California company, announced the release of Ginger Pear, their Fall/Winter seasonal.  It is a true pear cider, made with fresh pear juice from Bartlett and D'Anjou varieties grown in Oregon and Washington. 

Inspired by Jamaican ginger beer, the spiciness of the ginger is balanced perfectly with the floral, fruity pear to brighten holiday season festivities.  Common Cider's Ginger Pear is made with fresh, not from concentrate, 100% pear juice that is fermented then finished with just enough ginger juice to give it an exotic, delicious hint of black pepper and lemon.  It will be available in 12-ounce slim can six-packs as well as 1/6bbl and 1/2bbl kegs through the upcoming holiday season and into the New Year.

Common Cider prides itself on hand making each of their unique and flavorful ciders, using only the best natural ingredients to enhance their award-winning ciders, which may be found in many retail locations throughout California and Northern Nevada.  You can find more information, including where to buy, on their website, CommonCider.com.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Hard Cider Caramel Apple Pie
From Self Proclaimed Foodie

Bourbon and Hard Pear Cider Cocktail
From Karen Rankin on Southern Living

Photo Credit: Krissy Allori of Self Proclaimed Foodie

Photo Credit: Luigart Stayner