Hard Cider Newsletter

Long Beach’s First Cidery Breaks Ground, Ficklewood Ciderworks

Ficklewood Ciderworks has officially broken ground in the booming downtown area of Long Beach and will become the city’s first cidery. The building, once the only Department of Motor Vehicles in Long Beach during the 1930-40s, is being recast into Ficklewood Ciderworks. Ficklewood aims to become a timeless installation where guests can experience both traditional cider making in addition to modern twists of a beverage quickly gaining in popularity again across the nation.
At Ficklewood, guests will find a diverse collection of rotating taps with locally inspired releases, carefully sourced ingredients, and mouthwatering collaborations. While cider can sometimes be thought of as a ‘sweet’ or ‘sugary’ beverage, Ficklewood will focus on dry to semi-dry ciders. The founders are in-fact dedicated to helping reshape the cider expectations of Southern California and grow a community of cider lovers with discriminating and sophisticated palates. In doing so, Ficklewood will become much more than a place to have a drink but a place of complete experience, from learning cider traditions, lore, and cider making, to the proper pour and serving glass.

The community focused brand offers a range of flavors that will tickle the taste buds of both cider connoisseurs and first-time cider drinkers alike. As a modern cidery, guests can expect artistic infused creations using botanicals like hops and hibiscus, fresh fruits such as blueberries and mango, in addition to adjuncts such as honey, belgian candi, and charred oak. Ficklewood will also make traditional ciders using a proprietary blend of old-world traditions and new-world processes. As production takes hold, Founders Stefan Enjem and Joe Farrier plan to expand their offerings to include complex fermentations, barrel aging, and even apple brandy.
Ficklewood’s design takes important cues from its hometown. The owners have Long Beach pride and admire the diversity and inclusive culture of their town. Ficklewood Ciderworks will be welcoming and invites guests into a world that playfully merges organic and modern in a style that’s as eclectic and diverse as its Long Beach community. Inside you’ll find elements that are locally inspired and sprinkled with traditional touches that pay homage to the origins of cider.

Long before renderings and photoshoots the two had been climbing the ladder that bridges their backyards almost every night geeking out over the perfect cider creation.  From neighbors, to best friends to passionate cider makers, Farrier and Enjem dreamed of a place where they could bring the community together.

Using their engineering backgrounds, entrepreneurial grit and love for food and beverage they soon became enamored with the idea of bringing their delicious creations to the city they adored so much. Birthed by passion and innovation this magical brand serves as an extension of its playful and bespoke origins. Follow Ficklewood on Facebook and Instagram to stay up-to-date. Photos provided by Avana Creative for Ficklewood Ciderworks.


Triple Berry-Infused Traffic Jam Makes Debut From Blake’s Hard Cider

Blake’s Hard Cider, the Midwest’s largest craft cidery, launched Traffic Jam, a semi-sweet, triple berry-infused cider to its year-round lineup. Brilliantly ruby red in color and flavored with strawberries, raspberries and blackberries, Traffic Jam’s profile is slightly tart up front and finishes smooth with a hint of sweetness.

“We grow over 40 different varieties of crops on our farm, and our berries are one of the largest attractions, so this really inspired creating Traffic Jam,” said Andrew Blake, owner and founder of Blake’s Hard Cider. The family-owned and operated hard cider company recently celebrated its fifth anniversary and its 800-acre orchard is approaching 75 years of service.

Traffic Jam (6.5% ABV) is available now and sold in 12-ounce six-pack cans throughout the company’s 18 state footprint through Blake’s Hard Cider distribution and at most major grocery chains such as Meijer and Kroger (MSRP $10.99-$11.99). 

Although Blake’s produces over 50 unique cider profiles a year, only six select varieties are available year-round to the public. “We listen to what our fans and Tasting Room visitors want in a cider and from there we push the boundaries and really get creative, always looking first to the farm and what we can use from it,” said Matt Wiles, Blake’s Hard Cider head cider maker. 

Blake’s Tasting Room (located at 17985 Armada Center Rd., in Armada) will host a Traffic Jam release party on Thursday, May 23 from 6pm-11pm. The event will include live music and menu items created with Traffic Jam hard cider. The first 50 guests to order Traffic Jam will receive a commemorative pint glass. Admission is free and reservations can be made by calling the Tasting Room at (586) 784-9463.

Blake’s Hard Ciders are all made from a proprietary five apple blend of 100% Michigan apples grown, harvested, pressed and fermented on the Blake’s apple orchard in Armada, Michigan.  Blake’s Hard Cider’s contain more than nine apples per can and have nearly half the sugar, calories and carbs of national leading cider brands. For more information on Traffic Jam or any of Blake’s Hard Cider beverages, visit BlakesHardCider.com. Photos provided by PublicCity PR for Blake’s Hard Cider.


Inaugural New York Cider Competition Announces Medalists

As a part of Raise a Glass Foundation’s Great American International Competitions, the inaugural New York Cider Competition brought 11 hard cider experts together to evaluate 150 ciders from New York cider makers using 100% New York apples and pears.

Categories included Traditional (vintage-based ciders made with traditional cider fruit), Modern (ciders made primarily from culinary apples), Specialty (ciders made with additional flavoring elements, including non-pome fruits, hops, botanical ingredients, and assertive wood aging), and Dessert (which is composed of Pommeaux, Ice Ciders, and Royal Ciders).

Entries came from cideries located in New York’s primary apple growing regions, including the Hudson Valley, the Finger Lakes, and Western New York. Additional entries came from the Catskills and the North Country. The competition’s 11 judges included cider makers, writers, retailers, and educators from New York and Washington, D.C.

Washington D.C.’s Anxo Cider owner Sam Fitz said, “Judging cider at the Great American International Competitions was a great opportunity to experience the best of New York cider. I was thoroughly impressed with the quality of the entries as well as the professionalism of the competition. I look forward to judging next year in Rochester.”

The Best in Show winner of the Governor’s Cider Cup was Kite & String’s 2017 Pioneer Pippin, a Traditional method, fruit-forward cider highlighting Pioneer Crab and Newtown Pippin apples. This marks the second consecutive vintage of this cider to be identified as the best cider being made in New York State, on the heels of the 2018 Governor’s Cider Cup win for the 2016 vintage. This year, Kite & String also won a Double Gold medal for 2017 Goldrush.

Other cider makers to win Double Gold include:

  • Black Diamond Farm, Trumansburg, NY (Golden Russet/Porter’s Perfection and Hickster)
  • Country Pickins, Hannibal, NY (Growers Blend)
  • Embark Craft Ciderworks, Williamson, NY (Crab Series #2 and Imperial Blizzard)
  • Empire Cider Company, Geneva, NY (Empire Golden)
  • Eve's Cidery, Van Etten, NY (2017 Autumn's Gold)
  • Hazlitt 1852 Vineyards, Hector, NY (Cider Tree with Citra Hops)
  • Lake Drum Brewing, Geneva, NY (Rhode Island Greening)
  • New York Cider Company, Ithaca, NY (Barn Swallow)
  • Redbyrd Orchard Cider, Trumansburg, NY (2015 Celeste Sur Lie)
  • Rootstock Ciderworks, Williamson, NY (Rootstock Hopped)
  • Slyboro Cider House, Granville, NY (Rose and Sky)
  • 1911 Hard Cider, Lafayette, NY (Cranberry and Pommeau)

New York Cider Association Executive Director Jenn Smith said, “Partnering with Raise a Glass Foundation to produce the first competition focused on the diverse range of ciders being made from New York apples accomplished two goals: it put a spotlight on the excellence of the cider being made across categories and regions in our state, and it contributes to Raise a Glass’ important charitable work.”

Raise a Glass Foundation Director Peter Parts said, “Including cider in the Great American International portfolio of competitions was a natural evolution, and focusing on New York in the inaugural year sets a high bar for quality as we look forward to expanding the competition in 2020 to include national and international entries.”

To see the full list of medal winners from this year’s competition and learn more about the New York Cider Association, visit NewYorkCiderAssociation.com. To learn more about Raise a Glass Foundation, visit RaiseAGlassFoundation.com. Photo of Kite & String Pioneer Pippin credited to Finger Lakes Cider House.


Alter Ego Cider Launches Two Canned Ciders

Alter Ego Cider, a small-batch, artisanal cidery owned and operated by winemakers in Portland, Oregon, has launched two ciders in cans - The Brut and The Guardian Angel. A third cider, The Dark Royale, will follow in the coming months.

The Brut is a lightly sparkling, off-dry pure apple cider, made from a blend of locally grown apples. The fruit is fresh pressed and cool fermented, developing nuanced and elegant texture and aromatics, retaining the distinct characteristics of Pacific Northwest-grown apples. The suggested retail price for a six-pack of 12 oz. cans is $12.99.

The Guardian Angel ($14.99 per six-pack of 12 oz. cans) is a semi-sweet cider made with Northwest apples and antioxidant-rich blueberries and pomegranates, with a deep garnet color and a refreshing flavor.

The Dark Royale, a previously keg-only cider soon to be released in cans, is made from a blend of locally grown apples and black currants, with just a hint of sweetness.

Alter Ego Cider produces food-friendly ciders using distinctly wine-like techniques, with co-owner and winemaker Anne Hubatch and winemaker-turned-cidermaker Robert Lauer leading the production. An “alter ego” for their winemaking identities, the cidery gives Hubatch and Lauer an opportunity for a wider range of creative experimentation. Alter Ego offers seasonal ciders in keg, in addition to their year-round offerings of The Brut and The Guardian Angel.

“We’re excited to offer our customers a new convenient and sustainable option,” said Hubatch. “The Brut and The Guardian Angel are both representative of our cidermaking style and the Northwest flavors we love, and we are excited to be able to share them in this new popular format with a wider audience.”

These canned ciders are distributed in five states - Oregon, Washington, New York, New Jersey, and Minnesota.

In June 2019, Alter Ego is expected to open a taphouse at 2025 SE 7th Avenue, Portland, OR 97214. Adjacent to the production space, the taphouse will serve Alter Ego’s flagship ciders and seasonal offerings. For more information on Alter Ego’s ciders and taphouse opening, please visit AlterEgoCider.com. Photos provided by Play Nice PR for Alter Ego.


Tieton Cider Collaborates with Dry Fly Distilling

Tieton Cider Works announced they teamed up with Dry Fly Distilling to give their summer limited release a new twist. This year, their popular Bourbon Barrel Peach cider has been aged in previously used Dry Fly bourbon barrels. Aging in bourbon barrels gave the cider deep, rich notes of vanilla and spice. The two companies value creating locally-sourced products and are proud to share this new collaboration cider that is a true reflection of what the Northwest has to offer. 

This is Tieton’s third year making Bourbon Barrel Peach Cider.  Originally, they were using an assortment of bourbon barrels from around the country.  However, they decided to collaborate with Dry Fly Distilling since they share the same ethos on locally-sourced ingredients. Dry Fly embraces the farm to bottle approach for all of their products. Grain is sourced from family farms located within 30 miles of the distillery in Spokane, WA. Similarly, Tieton Cider Works also utilizes local ingredients, such as Yakima Valley peaches, including apples from their own orchards in Tieton (WA) to create their handmade craft ciders. In Bourbon Barrel Peach, the cider base is a blend of modern tart dessert apples such as Pink Lady, Granny Smith and Golden Delicious.

Terry Nichols, Vice President of Sales & Marketing at Dry Fly Distilling stated, “We are thrilled to be collaborating with Tieton Cider Works on their Bourbon Barrel Peach Cider this year, we have long respected their commitment to producing premium quality hard ciders from Washington grown apples, it is truly an honor to work with them.  These American oak barrels held our four-year-old bourbon, derived from a unique mash bill of 55% corn and 45% triticale, which is unlike any other bourbon in the world.  The resulting cider is delicious and reflects back the high-quality natural ingredients grown in our own backyard as well as the talents and skill of the cider and whiskey makers.”

Locally-sourced ingredients was the most important factor in Tieton’s decision to work with Dry Fly but the fusion of vanilla and spices from the barrels with the fruitiness of the cider makes for a perfect combination. Bourbon Barrel Peach has a taste of sweet, ripe peaches with some tartness of green apple and a touch of tannin on the end at 6.9% ABV. Tieton Cider staff recommend the cider be paired with grilled meats and vegetables – think summertime barbecue on the back patio.

With the bourbon character of the cider, Bourbon Barrel Peach is also great in a cocktail. Here’s four Dry Fly-Tieton Cider cocktail recipes for you to try:

That Summer Sunshine

4 Raspberries
1 Lemon wedge
2oz Dry Fly Bourbon 101
6oz Tieton Bourbon Barrel Aged Peach Cider

Muddle fruit in the bottom of a shaker. Add ice and bourbon. Shake. Dump contents into a mule mug. Top with cider. Enjoy next to pool or river.

Bittersweet Surrender

2oz Dry Fly Bourbon 101
2oz Fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
2-3 Dashes Angostura bitters
Tieton Bourbon Barrel Peach cider

Shake first three ingredients over ice, dump into Collins glass. Top with Tieton Bourbon Barrel Peach cider for bubbly affect.  

The Grand Tieton

2 Slices of fresh peach
3-4 Leaves of fresh Basil
1.5oz Dry Fly Bourbon 101
.5oz Lemon juice
.5oz Simple syrup
Tieton Bourbon Barrel Peach cider

Muddle 1 peach slice and basil. Add bourbon, lemon juice and syrup. Shake all ingredients in a shaker with ice.  Strain into a Collins glass filled with ice.  Top with Tieton Bourbon Barrel Peach Cider. Add peach slice for garnish.

More Than Mamosa

1oz Fresh Orange juice
1oz Grand Marnier orange liqueur
2oz Dry Fly Bourbon 101
12oz Tieton Bourbon Barrel Aged Peach Cider
1 orange slice

Add all ingredients in order to 16oz glass. Add orange slice for garnish.

Bourbon Barrel Peach cider is now available on draft in select locations and is rolling out to retailers. For the first time, this product will be available in cans. Tieton Cider Club members will receive Bourbon Barrel Peach bottles in their quarterly shipment as well. Please visit TietonCiderWorks.com for additional information on Bourbon Barrel Peach cider. You can also visit DryFlyDistilling.com to learn more about the distillery and their other products. Photos provided by Tieton Cider Works.


100 Craft Ciders to Drink Now – The Cider Insider

Cider is big news, with the global market projected to reach 13.8 billion dollars by 2024, and (just as with craft beer and artisan gin) a world of new brands and styles for the drinker to discover – but where to start?

The United Kingdom’s foremost cider writers and experienced cider judges, Susanna Forbes, has released a new guide to cider – The Cider Insider. As an award-winning writer and ‘Beer & Cider’ editor for Imbibe (UK) magazine and the Imbibe Live show, Forbes has helped reshape the perception of cider among consumers and drinks trade alike, launching #RethinkCider in 2019. Four years ago, inspired by what she found while researching drinks tourism, she and her husband, James, left the London suburbs to set-up Little Pomona Orchard & Cidery in the cider heartland of Herefordshire, England.

In The Cider Insider, Forbes has hand-picked 100 great ciders from over 35 regions around the world that are worth seeking out and drinking now. She offers a complete, accessible guide to the very best on the market, from single-varietals to vintage ciders and pear cider (perry, the ancient ‘new kid on the block’), and even ice ciders.

“The perfect guide you need to find out about the apple, the orchard, the maker and the blender – in short, cider,” reviewed Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider & Perry.

The greatest cider-makers have honed their skills to a fine art – from Spain to Oregon, the world’s top ciders are now being appreciated as a versatile drink akin to the finest wines. Cider’s complex flavor profiles make it especially suited for drinking with a meal, and with food pairing being one of Susanna’s specialties, she includes dozens of food pairings throughout the book, referenced in the following excerpt:

(Anxo, pg. 187) “The utter joy of sitting at the upstairs bar at Anxo in Washington, D.C. and realizing here was the perfect marriage of an eloquent drinks director, an unparalleled cider selection, and the best Spanish small plates in town…”

“Susanna Forbes is one of the most knowledgeable and committed ambassadors for cider, both near and far, at the table, in the glass and in the orchard. Her passion is present in every page of The Cider Insider,” reviewed Ryan Burk, Head Cider Maker of Angry Orchard.

Chapters are broken down by region: England, Wales & Ireland; France; Spain; Germany, Italy & elsewhere in Europe; USA & Canada; and Australia, New Zealand & South Africa. In tune with consumers’ desire to know more about what’s on their plate and in their glass, each entry not only tells the cidermaker’s story, but also details the apples/pears and how the cider or perry has been made. And, tapping into the growing trend for authentic experiences, Forbes offers travel tips to enable readers to enjoy for themselves not just the drink but also the producers and the orchards from where the fruit is sourced.

The Cider Insider (ISBN: 9781787130036) is now available to purchase where books (such as Amazon) are sold for $19.99. However, you have a chance to win a copy now through June 14th. Click here to visit the contest entry form and enter. Contest terms and rules can be found on the entry form.

Photos courtesy of Susanna Forbes and Hardie Grant Publishing.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Slow Roast Pork Belly with Leeks and Apples
From Beth Dooley via StarTribune

Sidra Margarita
From Virtue Cider

Photo Credit: Mette Nielsen       

Photo Credit: Virtue Cider