Hard Cider Newsletter

Haykin Family Cider Opens With a Big Win

Haykin Family Cider, Denver’s newest small batch cider producer, won top prizes at the prestigious 13th Annual Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition (GLINTCAP) – the largest cider competition in the world. They also won a Silver medal in Europe’s biggest cider competition: The Bath & West International Cider Championships at The Royal Bath & West Show.

Haykin Family Cider is co-owned by husband-and-wife team, Talia and Daniel Haykin, who opened their state-of-the-art production facility and tasting room earlier this year. Says co-owner and cider maker Daniel Haykin, “It’s a wonderful confirmation to us that we are indeed making a world-class product; and also that Colorado apples can compete in excellence with any of these great, and more well-known, apple growing areas around the world.”

Coming from a love of sparkling wine, Daniel Haykin set out to make a similar product with apples. Produced in a 750ml champagne bottle and finished with a natural cork and wire hood, Haykin Family Cider more easily resembles a classic sparkler – rather than beer-like versions of cider currently on the market. And, each cider is aptly named for the apple varietal of which it is comprised.

“We are just like a winery in many respects,” shared Talia Hakin, Co-owner of Haykin Family Cider. “We only use apples and yeast and really try to showcase the individual apple like you would a grape varietal.”

Daniel stated, “There was a beautiful tradition of apples and cider in the United States prior to Prohibition. In countries like England, France and Spain their tradition is unbroken and so is the knowledge. In the United States, we are relearning the tradition and finding new expressions.”

Taking it from tree to bottle, the Haykins process their own fruit as much as possible, having developed relationships with several Colorado apple growers. “We know the Colorado climate isn’t always kind to growers, so our goal is to utilize mainly Colorado fruit but we have other sources, as well, if we need it. We know our growers well, appreciate them and their exceptional fruit, and want to showcase how incredible Colorado is for apples,” explained Daniel.

This year, at GLINTCAP, Haykin Family Cider had eight of their ciders selected from nearly 1,400 entries for the Best in Class tasting. Two of their ciders placed in their respective classes: Scarlet Surprise took home Gold and Second in Class in the Heritage Cider – Sweet category; and Sansa won Gold and Third in Class in the Modern Cider – Sweet category.

Scarlet Surprise is a rosé made in 2017 with a very small batch of red-fleshed apples from Masonville Orchards in Ft. Collins, Colorado. This cider is a treat for tart lovers. The sharp flavor is tempered with lively complexity, including watermelon, strawberry, raspberry and subtle astringency.

Sansa is also made from apples from Masonville Orchards in Ft. Collins. It is the offspring of two famous apples: Gala and Akane. A blend of all three apple varieties, this batch is a Sansa family tree in a bottle. It is a semi-sweet cider that showcases the heady aromas and flavors of peach and apple skins in a concentrated juicy form.

The other awards that Haykin Family Cider received at GLINTCAP this year include:


  • Akane (Modern Cider – Sweet)


  • Arkansas Black (Heritage Cider- Dry)

  • Bowser Wedding Cuvee (Modern Cider – Sweet)

  • Cox’s Orange Pippin (Modern Cider – Dry)

  • Dabinett (Traditional Cider – Dry)

  • Harrow Sweet Pear (Traditional Perry)

  • Late Fall (Modern Cider – Sweet)

  • Odds & Ends Batch #3 (Heritage Cider – Dry)

  • Rome Beauty (Modern Cider – Sweet)

  • Summer (Modern Cider – Dry)

  • Sweet Ashmead’s Kernel (Heritage Cider – Sweet)


  • Jonathan (Modern Cider – Sweet)

  • Opalescent (Modern Cider – Sweet)

  • Winter (Modern Cider – Sweet)

A full list of GLINTCAP commercial award winners can be found here.

The Haykins are no strangers to success. In 2017, Haykin Family Cider won a First in Class for their Modern Sweet cider Esopus Spitzenburg at GLINTCAP. In addition, they won two gold, six silver, and six bronze medals. In 2016, as amateurs, they won one gold, four silvers and one bronze at GLINTCAP as well. You can review all of the company’s awards by visiting their website.

Haykin Famly Cider is located on the light rail line in Colorado at 33rd and Peoria at 12001 E. 33rd Avenue, Unit D, in Aurora. They are easily accessible from Aurora, Denver, Stapleton and those surrounding neighborhoods. Upon entering the space, guests are greeted by an attractive wrap-around wood bar (designed and built by local artists at FinArt), emblazoned with the outline of an apple tree. With fifteen seats, guests are treated to a view of a cooler, out of which five taps draw their ciders, with batches of cider fermenting before guests’ eyes. Over the bar are vintage-inspired glass light fixtures, giving the space a warm and inviting atmosphere. Featured along the entry wall are prints of vintage drawings from the USDA of different apple varieties from the turn of the last century.

For the actual production equipment, housed in the back of the industrial space, they custom-ordered and brought in equipment from Italy through a California winery supplier. It is essentially sparkling white wine equipment, making Haykin Family Cider stand out from other style ciders.

You can stop by and enjoy tours, tasting flights and ciders on tap at the facility as well as purchase bottles to take home. Hours have been expanded since their opening and guests can visit Thursday thru Friday from 5:30pm-10pm, Saturday from 2pm-10pm, and Sunday from 2pm-8pm. For more information on Haykin Family Cider, visit them at HaykinFamilyCider.com.


Castle Hill Cider's Levity Receives International Recognition

Castle Hill Cider has earned a silver medal for Levity, one of its flagship offerings. The international competition, Drink Outside the Grape, recognizes high-quality, locally grown fruit wines from as far as India and Israel.

A unique method is used to make Levity. Castle Hill is the first producer in the United States to import and utilize qvevri, terracotta vessels submerged underground to maintain cold temperatures. To create Levity’s unique effervescence and flavor profile, pressed juice ferments in the clay pots for three months, then is bottled for continued fermentation to create natural sparkle. 

Qvevri are the oldest known fermentation vessels dating back 8,000 years to the country of Georgia. Traditionally, lids are sealed with clay and fern. At Castle Hill, lids are sealed with a closed-cell foam to avoid contamination.

“This is a small batch cider because of the intricate process of using the terracotta pots, ”Cider Maker Stuart Madany says. “Because qvevri do not have a drain, water is pumped out for cleaning. Smaller vessels are cleaned with a brush while larger vessels require us to climb inside. We clean the vessels without chemicals and they are relined with beeswax as needed to seal natural pores in the clay.”

Levity is a blend of ten Virginia grown apples including Harrison, Albemarle Pippin, and Winesap. Produced since 2010, the 2017 vintage brings aromas of caramel, lemon zest, black cherry, almond and guava. In the mouth, it is very full bodied with both astringent and bitter tannins, flavors of honey and tangerine and a very fresh preserved lemon finish with an ABV of 7.9%.

For those unfamiliar with Castle Hill Cidery, the company opened its doors in 2011 on 600 beautiful acres in the historic Virginia countryside in Keswick, just outside of Charlottesville. The land once belonged to the Castle Hill estate, which was built in 1764 and hosted seven U.S. presidents, along with many other luminaries, including dignitaries, explorers and artists. Castle Hill was originally the home of Colonel Thomas Walker, guardian and mentor to Thomas Jefferson. The estate was the first place in Albemarle County to plant Albemarle Pippin apples, which became a major export for the region.

Castle Hill’s legacy continues today with the Castle Hill Cidery orchard ciders, handcrafted on the treasured and historical landscape. Madany began restoring the historic property in his previous role as an architect in 2009. When he learned of the region’s cider making potential, he saw a perfect opportunity to marry his lifelong curiosity for the craft and the historic nature of the land. Today, as cider maker, Madany pays tribute to Castle Hill’s rich history in every bottle through thoughtful curation and a commitment to stewardship. Check out Castle Hill Cider online at CastleHillCider.com to purchase Levity and other ciders. Photos credited to Amelia Eliza for Castle Hill Cider.


Wölffer Estate Releases New No. 139 Red Cider

Wölffer Estate officially launched their latest cider, No. 139 Red Cider, with a release first at the winery and online followed by availability throughout New York City stores such as Whole Foods and Fairway this month.

No. 139 Red Cider is a fresh, vibrant, sparkling cider made exclusively from New York State dessert apples grown and handpicked in 2017 at the DeFisher Fruit Farm in Rochester. Winemaker and partner Roman Roth meticulously sourced a number of apple varieties each known for their crisp, sweet and aromatic flavor profiles such as:

  • Jonagold – 10%

  • Mutsu (Crispin) – 20%

  • Golden – 10%

  • Idared – 30%

  • Law Rome – 20%

  • Northern Spy – 10%

The 2017 harvest has a cool, wet spring, followed by a moderate-temperature summer and finished with a warm and gorgeous autumn that was only disturbed by a couple of light rains. It was perfect for ripe flavors and a good healthy crop. Through a selective taste test, the percentage of each of the apples listed above was chosen to contribute a distinct character and subtle complexity to the blend.

The fruit was pressed in mid-November 2017 and the juice was well-settled and carefully racked of any sediment. The clean juice was then inoculated with Eperney 2 wine yeast, commonly used for sparkling wine, to start the fermentation, which was carried out at a cool 59-degrees Farenheit and finished after seven days. The hard cider was then chilled followed by filtration for clarity. After, the beautiful red color was achieved by adding a small amount of grape skin extract, whose tannins provide the perfect balance to the elegant sweetness. The aroma was amplified by a tiny addition of black currant flavor too. The finished product was carbonated and bottled cold-sterile this August.

The result after pressing, resting and fermenting is a cider that’s cherry red in color, similar to a red Lambrusco wine. The aroma is pure and fresh with ripe red currants and has a refreshing hint of lemons. The taste has an elegant, vibrant and playful acidity with a beautiful balance between the fine tannins and the elegant sweet fruit. The underlying delicate cider notes provide the perfect structure from start to end, with a finish that is long and fruit driven with just a tad of acidity to keep it lively and fresh at 6.9% ABV and 24g/L of residual sugar.

The introduction of this red cider further builds upon Wölffer’s history of producing high quality red wines. No. 139 Red Cider is available in 355ml screw cap bottle four-packs for the suggested retail price of $16.

This cider is a sophisticated and stylish choice for dinner on the patio as the weather turns crisp, served chilled and paired with Mexican and Asian cuisines, a cheese plate or even while roasting s’mores by the campfire. For more information about Wölffer No. 139 ciders, visit their website Wolffer.com/cider. Photos provided by Wölffer Estate Vineyard.


Noble Cider Releases First Cans, 'Cider Spritzers'

Asheville-based (NC) Noble Cider has announced a new Cider Spritzer series in six-pack, 12-ounce cans. The first two of four products are now available at select retail stores in Western North Carolina and at Noble Cider’s New Leicester Highway taproom. These delicious and refreshing hard cider spritzers are low calorie, light on alcohol, and big on flavor.

Noble’s cider spritzers are crafted from fresh-pressed local apples and premium whole ingredients. With a focus on a lower 4% ABV and no added sugar, these spritzers are only 99 calories per 12-ounce serving. They are sold as six-packs of 12-ounce cans – the perfect tag-along for tubing and boating, camping and hiking, and daydreaming and day-drinking.

The new flavors feature a pairing of an organic citrus peel and a botanical, along with hard cider made from fresh-pressed apples and carbonated water. The first releases are ‘Lime & Hibiscus’ and ‘Grapefruit & Hops’. Lime & Hibiscus contains organic lime peel, organic lemongrass, and organic hibiscus flowers. Grapefruit & Hops contains organic grapefruit peel and citra hops. The second release of two additional spritzers in the series will be ‘Lemon & Elderflower’ and ‘Orange & Jasmine Tea’ – both of which is expected later this year.

The addition of cider spritzers brings another option to Noble Cider’s strong line-up of craft hard ciders. Since 2012, Noble Cider has become a leader in the national industry and has grown to a 250,000 gallon annual capacity. The company, now vertically integrated from orchard to glass, continues to focus on using premium, real ingredients. Along with seasonal offerings, Noble plans more product releases and brand experiences throughout 2018 and 2019.

Noble Cider products can be found on tap and in retail stores in select markets in North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee, and Georgia, as well as through their online store at NobleCider.com. Photos provided by Noble Cider.


New Cider-Making Log Book Just In Time for the Harvest

After trading his city life for a country home in 2017, 33 Books Co. owner, Dave Selden, knew he was in trouble when he filled his fourth wheelbarrow with apples – keeping track of the harvest seemed like a big task.

"I was thrilled with the idea of making cider from my own trees," says Selden. "I'd made cider at home many times, so I wasn't exactly new to the idea of cider-making. But it was a lot easier back then: buy some juice at the store, dump it in a carboy, add a little yeast, and bingo! Two weeks later, it was cider." But after picking a small mountain of fruit from a dozen apple trees, he realized the hubris of his harvest idea.

"I pretty quickly realized that picking, pressing and fermenting tree volumes of fruit was a little more like professional cider making," he continues. "I needed to up my cider game considerably." His first step was buying an apple press. His second? Designing 33 Cider Pressingsa log book Selden created for home cider makers.

33 Pressings' clean, chronological layout allows home cider makers to list the apple varieties used in their juice, as well as key stats on its composition, including gravity (a measure of sugar available for fermentation), pH and total acidity (TA). Once the juice is pressed, space is provided to track fermentation in detail, including treatments (added sulfites, nutrients, etc.), transfers, and additional ingredients (such as hops, other fruits, spices, etc.). When fermentation is complete, cider makers can note the finished cider's stats, like alcohol content, and yield in bottles, cans or kegs.

The book's layout and features were developed in collaboration with some of the preeminent cider makers in the Northwest, including Nat West of Reverend Nat's Hard Cider, James Kohn of Wandering Aengus and Anthem, and Abram Goldman-Armstrong of Cider Riot!. The book brings professional-level process to home cider makers. 

"I really wish I'd had this book when I was starting out," says West, who is known for his inventive modern ciders. "In fact, I may start using it at our cidery now. It works even for my unusual ciders.”

33 Cider Pressings is printed in Portland, Oregon, on 100% recycled paper sourced in the Pacific Northwest and bound in a softcover format that lays flat and wears well. It’s 5-inches by 7-inches and even contains a teeny, tiny amount of real, home-pressed cider in the ink of each new addition, which is cryptically noted on the back. 33 Cider Pressings can be purchased for $7 each or six books for $36 at 33Books.com. Photos provided by 33 Books Co.


Colorado Cider Company Launches in Nebraska

Colorado Cider Company ciders can now be found in the great state of Nebraska as part of Good Life Provisions portfolio.

“We are excited to bring our ciders into the state of Nebraska,” says Colorado Cider Company founder Brad Page. “We are excited to team up with a great partner like Good Life Provisions.”

Colorado Cider Company is one of the regions original cider makers and will bring its award-winning fresh pressed hard ciders in cans and draft to Nebraska.  The line up will include it’s flagship Glider, a semi-dry cider coming in at 6.5% ABV and with just five-grams of sugar, as well as it’s Grasshop-ah, a dry hopped cider made with the addition of lemongrass.

“Presenting high quality products from small and artisanal producers like Colorado Cider Company to the people of Nebraska is why Good Life Provisions exists,” told Good Life Provisions founder Matt Dinges. “Their ciders are terrific, the company is well-established (yet small with a family-like atmosphere), and they have their own orchard in Colorado where they are working on bringing back the classic cider apples to the region. I am stoked this is happening!”

“Regional cideries are growing at an explosive rate across the country, and we have seen that here in Colorado.  We are excited to branch out and bring better cider to Nebraskans and help educate consumers about this growing category and our great hand-crafted ciders,” continued Page.

Although not available in Nebraska yet, Colorado Cider also released the news this month of the re-release of their Pome Mel – a cyser made with lavender, rosemary and honey. This time, its back in four-pack cans, 22-ounce bombers, and draft across Colorado with limited distribution out-of-state. The well-balanced cider has been made since 2012 as a limited release and has a lovely aroma.

“We are really excited to bring this cider back as a limited release, it is one of our most requested brands through social media and the taproom,” says Colorado Cider sales director Xandy Bustamante.

Also out now, find the fresh-hopped version of Grasshop-ah available in limited draft across Colorado only. Using Colorado grown freshly harvested hops, this cider is one of the first of it’s kind and is one of the ciders originally pioneered at Colorado Cider Company.

To learn more about Colorado Cider’s unique cider offerings and availability, visit their website at ColoradoCider.com. Photos provided by Colorado Cider.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Pork Shoulder Braised in Hard Cider
From Martha Stewart Living, Nov. 2008

Autumn Leaves
From Baptiste & Bottle via Town & Country

Photo Credit: MarthaStewart.com

Photo Credit: Baptiste & Bottle at the Conrad Chicago