Hard Cider Newsletter

Houston’s Newest Urban Cidery Slated to Open This Fall

City Orchard, Houston’s newest urban cidery announced that it is opening its doors this fall. Located at 1201 Oliver Street, the establishment is located in the heart of Houston, Texas, and will produce hard ciders locally made from the highest quality, hand-selected cider and culinary apples from the Great Lakes Region of the United States.

The cidery is the creation of co-owners Patrick Kwiatkowski and Mat Smith, both with roots in the Great Lakes Region. “It’s been a lifelong ambition of mine as well as of my business partner to build an urban cidery since the 1980s,” said Kwiatkowski. “Our vision is to foster a community centered on cider. We will succeed by building a place where people can gather, relax, learn about apples and taste the rich and complex tradition that is cider.”

The duo has earned several medals for their ciders at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition every year since 2016, including gold medals in 2018 and 2019.

In addition to cider, the taproom will also serve beer brewed on-site as well as a selection of personally curated domestic and imported wines. It will also sell food that compliments cider in the European tradition, handmade in the City Orchard Food Truck. Menu items will include pizza, crepes, and other specialty bites.

“City Orchard is a unique concept in that we’re bringing fresh-pressed juice from apples grown in the Great Lakes and using them to make cider in Houston,” said Kwiatkowski.

Originally from Michigan, Kwiatkowski will serve as the operations manager of City Orchard. A chemical engineer from Michigan State, he is a longtime brewer and cider maker. He possesses connections to Michigan apple growers, cideries, cider specialists, and ties to Normandy, France – the world’s largest cider producing region and his inspiration for City Orchard.

Smith, who hails from New York State, will oversee the apple sourcing and the development of the City Orchard cider apple growing project. Cider is a personal commitment to the family orchard business that his grandfather started on the shores of Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario.

The duo also hired Danny Frounfelkner as the cidery’s general manager. A native of Northern California, Danny grew up next to Napa Valley and quickly developed an affinity for vineyards and apple orchards. He eventually made his way to Houston to take on the position of Beverage Director for Royal Oaks Country Club, where he specialized in creating, planning, and executing wine-centered events. Soon after, he joined Goody Goody Liquor as a Wine Consultant and then moved up quickly to open Goody Goody Liquor’s flagship retail store in Houston as Store Manager. Danny also was the Beverage Director at Tiny Boxwoods and Tiny No. 5 as well as with Adair Concepts (Eloise Nichols Grill & Liquors, Adair Kitchen and Bebidas). Most recently, he served as Wine Director for Agricole Hospitality’s three EaDo concepts (Indianola, Miss Carousel, and Vinny’s).

“With his passion for wine and cider making, coupled with his experience as beverage director for notable Houston restaurants, Danny is the perfect fit to manage City Orchard,” said Kwiatkowski. “I look forward to his contributions and what he’ll bring to the table as we launch the first-of-its-kind drinking establishment in the Bayou City.”

“My natural admiration and joy for wine and cider is infectious, and my hunger to study, learn and share all there is to know about wine and cider cultivation and production, to pairing and especially enjoying it is as strong as a vine and deep as a root,” said Danny. “City Orchard’s philosophy about cider is homegrown, managing the process from tree to glass and embodying the country’s best orchards in a bottle. It’s an all-encompassing experience that translates and transplants our prized piece of nature and earth deliciously into your glass. We are very passionate about cider, beer, wine and hospitality, and look forward to meeting and toasting with our fellow Houstonians who enjoy all things beverage, especially cider!”

For more information about City Orchard, visit CityOrchardHTX.com. Photos provided by City Orchard.


New ‘Unfiltered’ Options Provide Less Sweet, Full-Bodied Cider

Just in time for harvest season, Angry Orchard and Stormalong Cider are releasing ‘unfiltered’ ciders. The less sweet and full-bodied option with a hazy hue from Angry Orchard tastes just like freshly-pressed cider straight from the orchard. Similarly, the Stormalong Cider version is crisp and refreshing with a savory balance of tart and sweet that is reminiscent of Blue Hills Orchard’s farmstand cider typically pressed and sold at harvest.

To craft Angry Orchard Unfiltered, the cider makers started with a blend of juice from carefully selected culinary and traditional bittersweet apples, the gold standard of cider making. Low in acid and high in tannin, this blend of apples offers a refreshing, yet complex cider flavor reminiscent of the robust apple aroma you may experience at the Angry Orchard in Hudson Valley, New York, late in the season. Unique to Unfiltered, the cider makers skip the filtration process to keep the cider’s hazy, natural appearance, hearty aroma, and fuller apple taste at 6% ABV.

As unfiltered ciders have become a favorite by Orchard-growers and cider makers alike, the Angry Orchard team set out to expand Unfiltered’s offering beyond their home in the Hudson Valley. To share a taste of the Cider House with everyone nationwide, Angry Orchard Unfiltered brings the experience of drinking cider at the orchard to drinkers everywhere. Angry Orchard Unfiltered is available now nationwide in six-pack bottles and on draft.

Stormalong Cider’s Unfiltered is a collaboration with Blue Hills Orchard of Wallingford, Connecticut. The cider is the first in Stormalong’s new Farmstand series and features the quintessential McIntosh apple variety blended with other New England favorites. The cider is packaged in 16oz four-pack cans and will be available exclusively throughout the state of Connecticut through Stormalong’s distribution partners - Hartford Distributors and Dichello Distributors.

“We wanted to create a cider that showcased the taste of fresh local apples. We have been impressed with the exceptional quality of apples being grown at Blue Hills Orchard and sought to collaborate with the farm on this project. It has been a great experience working with them and experiencing the beauty and vibe of their orchard and, of course, their wonderful fruit. We’re looking forward to both the future and present. In addition, we have enjoyed working with our two distributors, Hartford and Dichello Distributors, who really understand and appreciate the idea of this project, and have been helpful in both the conception and execution of this venture,” said Shannon Edgar, founder of Stormalong Cider.

“For six generations my family has prided themselves on growing high-quality fruit. Continuing a long tradition of working with fruit and apples, we teamed up/partnered with Stromalong Cider to produce a hard cider that is similar to our traditional farmstand cider. Farming is a way of life for my family and we look forward to starting a new chapter with this hard cider collaboration,” said Eric Henry, sixth generation grower at Blue Hill Orchard.

Visit Stormalong.com to learn about the Farmstand series of cider and locate Stormalong cider near you. Visit AngryOrchard.com for additional information on Unfiltered and the Angry Orchard Cider House in Walden, New York. Angry Orchard photos provided by The Boston Beer Company. Stormalong photos courtesy of Stormalong Cider.


Incline Cider Opens Taproom in Tacoma

Founded in October 2015 by Chris and Jordan Zehner, Incline Cider has opened its first taproom in the historic Brewery Blocks area of Tacoma, Washington, located at 2115 S C Street below Seven Seas Brewing and just a few doors down from the future home of Bitterroot BBQ. Keeping with history, original brick, concrete and timber structures serve as the foundation for the space.

"We love Downtown Tacoma and the continued growth the area is seeing. The Brewery Blocks is the product of a great long-term vision to create a unique and inviting mix-use experience in this historic part of Tacoma,” said Jordan Zehner, co-founder of Incline Cider.

The Incline Cider House is a family-owned and operated, Pacific Northwest cider-focused tavern featuring a variety of Incline ciders made with 100% fresh-pressed apples as the base for the ciders that stand in a category of their own, alongside many rotating guest taps. In addition, they will offer a rotating beer and wine selection from the Pacific Northwest. Light snacks such as charcuterie boards and German pretzels will also be available for purchase.

Visit InclineCider.com or follow the company on Facebook to learn about events taking place at Incline Cider House and more. Photos provided by Incline Cider.


New Group for Women in Cider

Cider Women, the new pan-industry and consumer group designed to champion the role of women in cider, had its official launch this month at the preview of the Women & the Art of Cider exhibition at the Museum of Cider, Hereford (UK).

The mission of the group is to raise the profile of women and to encourage positive development in the world of cider, as well as welcoming all who are interested and promoting inclusivity on all fronts within cider.

Inspired by the example of its sisters across the Atlantic Ocean, Pomme Boots, the group has begun as a Facebook group with a dedicated Facebook page with which to share news on a wider basis. Membership is open to all women and, while activities will initially be based in the UK, members are welcome from around the world.

Jointly chaired by Elizabeth Pimblett, who became engaged with the world of cider when she took up the directorship of the Museum of Cider, Hereford, and Susanna Forbes, co-founder of Little Pomona Orchard & Cidery, the group is directed by a five-strong steering committee, including Fiona Matthews of Bartestree Cider, Isy Schulz of Barleywood Orchard, Cath Potter of Pommelier, Hannah Barton of Kniveton Cider and Lydia Crimp of Artistraw Cider.

“Our long-term hope is that Cider Women becomes a respected industry group which is seen as a support for women and something that adds to the general richness of cidermaking as a whole,” said Pimblett. “We hope that we can influence discussions for the benefit of all.”

“We want to reach out to all involved, from the orchardists to the pickers, the cider makers to the saleswomen, the servers to the educators,” said Forbes. “Not to mention all those who simply love to drink cider and perry.”

"In the short term, Cider Women will exist across a number of social media platforms and provide a safe space for discussion as well as a place to give and receive advice,” said Crimp. “We hope that the group will become a source of inspiration for those hoping to get into cider making as well as nurturing those already involved.”

“We will be offering support, advice, opportunities and information to anyone connected with the cider industry,” added Matthews.

“It has been documented that cider drinkers are split evenly on gender lines but despite this, sexist attitudes still exist in the cider community,” said Potter. “Therefore, it is really important to have a grouping of women to promote cider and to support each other in their cider-related activities.”

“Equality is the goal,” agreed Barton. “There is a need for a safe supportive space for women to widen their cider knowledge and to network.”

“I have witnessed and benefited from the positive effects of women's groups such as Dea Latis in the beer world,” said Forbes. “I hope that we can bring a similarly positive outcome to the cider sphere.”

Visit Cider Women on Facebook to join and support the group. Photos Courtesy of Cider Women.


Blood Orange Ciders for a Tasty Halloween

Halloween is upon us, ladies and gentlemen! We don’t know about you, but we personally dislike being past the age of trick-or-treating as adults. Who doesn’t love collecting an abundant amount of candy to fill the sugar void in your life?

Since it would be socially unacceptable for grown adults to go door to door, we’ll be indulging in some blood (cue vampire voice) orange ciders! Here are six spooky-good blood orange ciders we’ll be drinking while indulging in the candy we’re supposed to be handing out on Halloween (c’mon we know you do it too).

Common Cider Company - Blood Orange Tangerine
Common Cider tied just enough juice to capture the essence of citrusy fruit flavor without turning the beverage red and without compromising on the authenticity of the cider's ingredients, meaning no added artificial flavors or colors.

Austin Eastciders - Blood Orange Cider
Blood oranges from Italy blended with bittersweet heirloom apples creating a cider with a zesty twist. This medium-bodied cider from Austin Eastciders has just the right amount of sweet and citrus flavors to brighten your day.
MackJac Hard Cider - Blood Orange Ginger
MackJac Hard Cider didn’t just add blood orange to the mix, they combined both blood orange and ginger with their hard cider creating an explosion of flavor. This cider will excite your taste buds creating an incredible drinking experience.
ACE Cider spACE Bloody Orange Craft Cider
This unfiltered addition of blood orange showcased in a cider by ACE was overwhelmingly chosen by the cider company’s fans as their favorite via a Facebook poll. It is citrusy and tart with a vivid red-orange hue.
Virtue Cider - Mezzo Spritz
Mezzo Spritz is crafted with cider, sparkling water, and botanicals (including blood orange oil, sage, and spearmint). Mezzo Spritz is hazy orange-rose in appearance and has light floral aromas with a dry, up-front juicy blood orange finish. This cider is Virtue Cider’s take on the classic aperol spritz cocktail.
Bold Rock - Blood Orange
Bold Rock’s Blood Orange is a blend of blood orange juice and locally harvested Blue Ridge, Virginia, apples, featuring a light and refreshing cider with the crisp, tart and tangy citrus flavor of a blood orange.

Compiled by: Kristen Sarcone, Staff Writer of Hard Cider News. Photos courtesy of respective cider companies.


Noble Cider Wins “Made in NC Award”

Asheville-based Noble Cider was selected as the winner in the “drink” category for their Lemon & Elderflower Spritzer in the 2019 “Made in NC Awards” from Our State Magazine. The award honors companies who are making high-quality, innovative products in North Carolina.

“Out of all of our current products, we feel that the Lemon & Elderflower Spritzer illustrates the spirit of this award the best,” said Noble’s co-founder and CEO, Trevor Baker. “It’s made from freshly pressed North Carolina apples and elderflower that can be found all across the Western North Carolina landscape.”

You can hear co-founder and lead cider maker Lief Stevens speak more about the North Carolina connection to elderflower on Blue Ridge Public Radio.

Noble developed their spritzer line as a new way to introduce hard cider to the growing number of consumers who want lower ABV and lower calorie products. Not to be confused with a hard seltzer made with fermented sugar water and flavors, Noble’s spritzers are made with hard cider that is infused with real botanicals and citrus peels. The Lemon Elderflower hard cider spritzer is a dry hard cider fermented from freshly pressed apples then mixed with organic dried lemon peel and dried elderflowers for an infusion that’s crisp, bright and lightly floral.

Noble’s “Made in NC” award comes on the heels of the company opening its newest location, The Greenhouse, a cider-centered bistro and full bar in downtown Asheville headed by Chef Gavin Baker.

Learn more about Noble Cider by visiting their website NobleCider.com. Photos provided by Noble Cider.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Molly Yeh’s Apple Cider Brisket
By Molly Yeh, The Nosher

Fruit Belt Boulevardier
From Virtue Cider

Photo Credit: The Food Network

Photo Credit: Virtue Cider