Hard Cider Newsletter


Ironbound Hard Cider Releases Limited-Edition Dessert Cider

In celebration of the holiday season, Ironbound Hard Cider has released a limited-edition dessert cider, Holiday 2019.

Available only at the Tasting Room at Ironbound Farm (360 County Road 579, Asbury, in Hunterdon County, New Jersey), Holiday 2019 is a rich, spicy-sweet dessert cider made with local apples and spicebush that was foraged at Ironbound Farm. Also known as wild allspice, Appalachian spice, and “forsythia of the forest,” spicebush is a deeply aromatic shrub that is native to the forests of eastern North America and was first used by Native Americans as a spice and medicinal tea.

To create Holiday 2019, Cameron Stark, Ironbound’s cider maker, begins by steeping spicebush berries, twigs, and leaves in apple brandy. The resulting infusion is added to a single-varietal hard cider made exclusively from Golden Russet apples, which impart notes of tangerine, lemon zest, and white peach. Stark finishes the cider with a touch of Ironbound Farm honey to add natural sweetness.

Holiday 2019 has an ABV of 18.5% and is sold in an elegant, hand-signed 375ml bottle with a wax seal; priced at $25 a bottle.

“We are excited to present this limited-edition holiday dessert cider,” said Stark. “The spicebush lends a wonderful pie-spice flavor with a peppery note that evokes the warm feeling of the holidays. Holiday 2019 captures the flavor of local apples and the aroma of native spicebush—making it the perfect way to celebrate family, friends, and the abundance of New Jersey’s woodlands and farms.”

Ironbound Hard Cider is made from 100% fresh-pressed apples grown on family farms in New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. It is naturally gluten-free with no added sugar and no preservatives or sulfites. Ironbound also creates specialty blends by infusing Ironbound Hard Cider with locally grown and foraged ingredients, including beach plums, gooseberries, dry-harvested wild cranberries, hops, ginger, and black Aronia berries.

Ironbound’s core ciders — Ironbound Original, Pinelands Rosé, and Highlands Farmhouse — are available in cans and on tap at bars, restaurants, and retail stores throughout New Jersey. Specialty ciders, which include Black Tea and Lemon, Gooseberry Ginger, Woods Folly and Cape May Rosé, are available at select locations throughout New Jersey. All are available at Ironbound Farm.

For more information please visit IronboundHardCider.com. Photos courtesy of Ironbound Hard Cider.

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True to the Apple: ÆppelTreow

It all started back in college for Charles McGonegal, President and Ciderwright of ÆppelTreow Winery and Distillery. He says that he started making mead under his dorm room desk in college and found it a yet-to-be-acquired taste, but liked the cyser the best; so he left out the honey and took up the art of making cider.

Located halfway between Milwaukee and Chicago, you’ll find the cidery, which opened in 2001 and produced its first creations in 2002. ÆppelTreow, meaning “true to the apple,” has a vast array of talents – being a cidery, winery and distillery among them.

For the freshest products, ÆppelTreow partnered with Brightonwoods Orchard for traditional and heritage apples and pears, which are grown on site. Spices are also local, coming from Penzey’s, which is Milwaukee based. ÆppelTreow produces a range of styles: sparkling, draft, still, table, fortified, and dessert. Among their ciders is the SongBird collection which, according to Charles, was named to honor the barn swallows they gently herded from the barn that now houses the cidery when it was renovated. After the first naming, they just continued with other small birds that have been seen on the orchard.

Barn Swallow - This semi-dry, American style cider is pale in color with brilliant clarity. Barn Swallow’s carbonation tingles on your tongue. It’s made with eating and baking apples from Wisconsin orchards. It smells like culinary apples and has floral tones. It’s got a moderate body and a fading finish. Barn Swallows are the most widespread species of swallows in the world, being found in four continents. (5.8% ABV)

Kinglet Proper - This semi-dry "beginner cider" is light, still, and has a brilliant clarity. It’s made with estate grown apples that are a bit tannic with tasteful bitterness. Proper has a fleeting finish, with a thin body, and is light gold in color. It is named after a small bird with bright yellow and orange coloring upon his head. (6% ABV)

Orchard Oriole Perry - This cider is an authentic proper perry made from estate grown pears only used in cider making. It has perry-making pear varieties used to produce it. Orchard Oriole is petillant (in between still and champagne like), a bit sweeter than expected for a perry but has a nice tart mouthfeel. Perry is gold and slightly hazy. Its medium body is smooth with a lingering finish. It’s also Charles favorite! “It's my baby, and the difficulty of growing the English-origin true perry pears has caused plenty of friction with my orchard partner. But I love them tannins.” (4.5% ABV)

Blackbird Berried - Blackbird is ÆppelTreow’s top seller in the collection. Charles calls it, “…Flavored with black currant and elderberry juices. It's the most flavorful, least subtle of my ciders - and suits local taste the best.” Pour this one out of the can to see the crimson red color. Like the name implies, it smells like cranberry and is reminiscent of cranberry cocktail. Berried is a tart, sweet cider, petillant, and slightly puckering. (5.8% ABV)

Sparrow Spiced - Spiced reminds one of a tea, with spicy cinnamon and lavender aroma and taste. ÆppelTreow flavors it with their own custom-milled spice blend. It includes cinnamon, mace and cassia, along with some other secret ingredients. Its color is straw gold with brilliant clarity. Spiced has a medium-round mouthfeel with some honey aftertaste. (5.5% ABV)

Siskin Scrumpy Farmhouse Funked - This semi-sweet, English style cider is golden color with brilliant clarity. Siskin Scrumpy is vibrant, and reminds of fatty acids like cheese, molasses, and caramel but with funky qualities. It leaves a delightful prickle on the tongue. (5.5% ABV)

With a mission of “respect the land, savor the fruit, deliver unique flavors and make it the hard way” it’s hard not to see the passion ÆppelTreow has for their work. ÆppelTreow offers five free samples in their tasting room as well as flights for your enjoyment. If not for the cider, visit to enjoy the quirky and bubbly personality of Charles McGonegal. You can visit at 1072 288th Avenue in Burlington, WI. To find ÆppelTreow near you, visit Aeppeltreow.com.

Written By: Clare McCaffrey, Intern for Hard Cider News. Photos courtesy of ÆppelTreow.

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Shoal Hope Ciderworks Releases Collaborative Cider

Shoal Hope Ciderworks proudly announced the release of their first collaborative hard cider, Bison Tart. Working closely with Gordon’s Fine Wines & Liquors to develop this new barrel-aged and mulled seasonal cider, owner Rob Brosofsky said, “The idea for a collaboration between our two companies was first suggested shortly after Gordon’s began carrying our ciders. They have been great supporters of Shoal Hope Ciderworks since we launched in 2017, and we expect this to be the first in a long line of collaborative developments.”

Bison Tart uses Shoal Hope Ciderworks’ award-winning ‘Little Tart’ as its base. A co-fermentation of fresh pressed apple and cranberry juices, Little Tart was one of the first ciders Brosofsky made as an amateur cidermaker and quickly became popular when he launched commercially. “The tartness and tannins from the cranberries really come through on the palate,” Brosofsky says.

After fermentation the cider base is aged in a freshly dumped bourbon barrel from an award-winning distillery and infused with traditional mulling spices. Finally, carbonation is added to enhance the release of the aroma and the mouthfeel. “Throughout the aging process I brought samples from the Ciderworks in Provincetown (MA) to Gordon’s in Waltham (MA) for the wine and craft buyers and managers to taste,” explained Brosofsky. “It was exciting to see the positive reactions from the wine traditionalists, beer drinkers, and cider enthusiasts alike who commented on the aroma and flavor notes they interpreted from their perspectives; and collectively gave the Bison Tart a thumbs up.”

Limited to a run of 288 bottles, Bison Tart is available exclusively at the Gordon’s Fine Wines & Liquors stores while supplies last. Shoal Hope Ciderworks currently produces eight standard ciders at their facility in Provincetown, MA, and is proud to have been awarded medals at the annual GLINTCAP, CiderCraft Magazine, and National Honey Board commercial competitions.

Shoal Hope Ciderworks is distributed throughout Massachusetts by Berkshire Brewing Company. Learn about Shoal Hope Ciderworks online at ShoalHopeCiderworks.com. Photos courtesy of Shoal Hope Ciderworks.

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Blake’s Hard Cider Releases New Kinder Cider

Blake’s Hard Cider, the Midwest’s largest craft cidery, is spreading the warmth this winter through its newest Kinder Cider – Saint Cheri – now available.

As part of the company’s ‘Kinder Cider’ philanthropic product series, Blake’s Hard Cider has partnered with the Empowerment Plan, a Detroit-based nonprofit that employs and trains homeless women to manufacture a garment that serves as both a coat and a sleeping bag. These coats are then distributed back to homeless individuals within the Detroit (MI) community and across the nation, at no cost to them. Blake’s Hard Cider has pledged a $10,000 donation to the organization.

“The Blake family has always been dedicated to supporting those in need, and we are honored to be involved with a Detroit nonprofit that is dedicated to making a difference in such a unique way,” said Andrew Blake, owner and founder of Blake’s Hard Cider.

The limited-edition bourbon barrel-aged semi-sweet hard cider is made with Michigan grown Montmorency cherries that is slightly tart up front with a smooth finish. Saint Cheri is one of three Kinder Cider rotating limited-edition hard ciders that support and raise awareness on social and environmental issues and organizations which share Blake’s values. Available only until February 2020, Saint Cheri is sold in 12-ounce six-pack cans in 18 states through Blake’s Hard Cider distribution and at most independent liquor stores, bars and restaurants as well as grocery and supermarket locations that carry Blake’s Hard Cider products.

The Empowerment Plan creates significant economic impact by serving as a steppingstone out of poverty into a state of stability. The core of their work stems from an intensive 2-year employment model focused on providing job readiness training and support services to the workforce. The organization also produces durable, weather resistant sleeping bag coats for those experiencing homelessness, of which 35,000 have been distributed around the globe.

“We are thrilled to be working with Blake's as their newest Kinder Cider nonprofit partner. From our very first interaction, everyone at Blake's has been genuinely invested in the individuals we serve and gone above and beyond to help spread the word about our mission. It is only with the support of companies like Blake's that we are able to have the impact we do,” said Erika George, chief development officer, Empowerment Plan.

Through the end of February, patrons can visit Blake’s Website for a variety of Saint Cheri merchandise with 100 percent of sales being donated to the Empowerment Plan. For more information on Saint Cheri or the Empowerment Plan visit BlakesHardCider.com/saintcheri/. Photos provided by Blake’s Hard Cider.

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Buskey Cider Announces Two New Releases

Buskey Cider, located in the Scott’s Addition neighborhood of Richmond, Virginia, released its Bourbon Aged Old Fashioned Cider last month and a collaboration ‘Stout Cider’ with Lamplighter Coffee Roasters to celebrate their 10th anniversary this month. The Old Fashioned Cider was double bourbon barrel aged and has cherries and orange peel to give you that boozy Old Fashioned taste. Meanwhile, Stout Cider was made of Virginia apples and gluten-free ingredients that are typically used in dark beers – namely coffee beans, cocoa nibs, and Belgian candi.

The Bourbon Aged Old Fashioned Cider label was designed by co-owner Elle Correll, which features a glass of bourbon with a cherry and an orange peel garnish on top of a spotlight amongst a black background. The Stout Cider label was also designed by Elle but features the Richmond skyline with a powdery dark sky, simulating snow to highlight the cold weather season. Buskey is an all-American word that was written down in a letter by Ben Franklin as the slang young people in the taverns were saying during colonial times, when cider was the most popular alcoholic beverage.

The Bourbon Aged Old Fashioned Cider will be available on tap and in 16oz cans in very limited distribution around Virginia, in addition to being available in their tasting rooms in Richmond and Cape Charles, while supplies last. The Stout Cider will also be available on tap and in 16oz cans but only at the Buskey tasting room locations.

Buskey has their traditional RVA Cider, 100 Calorie Mojito Light Cider, and Blueberry Pancake Cider available in their statewide distribution footprint in Virginia through Premium Distributors, Chesbay Distributing, Blue Ridge Beverage, and Wendell Distributing. More limited release ciders are available in the Buskey Richmond tasting room. All of Buskey’s ciders are made with 100% Virginia apples and have no added sugar.

Visit Buskey Cider online at BuskeyCider.com. Photos courtesy of Buskey Cider.

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Clear Creek Distillery Launches New Vodka

Clear Creek Distillery, one of the oldest craft distilleries in the United States, proudly unveiled the first addition to its portfolio in nearly a decade – Clear Creek Vodka.

Clear Creek Vodka is 100 percent fruit-based – fermented and distilled from apples grown in the Pacific Northwest – and cut to 80 proof with glacier-fed spring water from Mt. Hood, Oregon's highest peak. Clear Creek uses anywhere up to 14 varieties of apples to create Clear Creek Vodka including Red Delicious, Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp and Granny Smith.

Clear Creek Distillery was founded in 1985 with a vision to use the bountiful fruits of the Pacific Northwest to create fruit-based spirits that rivaled the best of their European counterparts. In 2014, Clear Creek Distillery was acquired by Hood River Distillers, the largest and oldest importer and distiller of spirits in the Northwest. The union was exactly in line with Hood River Distillers' long-term plan to return to its roots of distilling fruit-based spirits. In 2017, Clear Creek moved its operations to a brand-new distillery closer to the fruit sources in Hood River, Oregon.

"The addition of Clear Creek Vodka to our portfolio falls in line with our philosophy of supporting local agriculture and approaching the distilling landscape as evolution and not revolution," said Jeanine Racht, Development & Marketing Manager, Clear Creek Distillery.

"Consumers are increasingly concerned about where their drinks come from and not just their food," Racht added. "We use 14 different varietals of non-GMO apples grown in Hood River and Yakima Valley orchards to create a vodka with a sense of place. Nearly 35 years after Clear Creek Distillery first opened its doors, we've made our first vodka; one worthy of the Clear Creek name."

Clear Creek Vodka offers the perfect combination of minerality and brightness accented with mild notes of crushed apple blossom – but gets those notes naturally and only from apples. The vodka’s unique taste from the apples is particularly noticeable and delicious in a classic martini. However, here’s a signature Clear Creek cocktail for you to consider just in time for the holidays:

Shaken and Firred
2 ½ oz Clear Creek Vodka
½ oz Dry Vermouth
¼ oz Clear Creek Doug Fir Brandy

Initially available in Oregon, Clear Creek Vodka (SRP $29.95 750ml) expanded to other markets during the summer. A 50ml size also became available with expansion to other markets. Additional information on Clear Creek Distillery’s products can be found at ClearCreekDistillery.com. Photos provided by PeetCom for Clear Creek Distillery.

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Eat This…

Drink That…

Cider Glazed Ham
From Dish Works via Cider Culture

Sparkling Pomegranate Punch
From Half Baked Harvest

Photo Credit: Dish Works

Credit: Tieghan Gerard