Hard Cider Newsletter

1911 Hard Ciders Success and Expansion Continues for Fall

Cooler winds aren’t far off and as vacations slowly wind down, the Beak & Skiff Orchards team in Upstate New York is diligently preparing for their busiest time of the year, picking season!

“While this has certainly been a difficult year for many and we are doing things a little differently, it’s shaping up to be stellar apple harvest,” said Beak & Skiff President Eddie Brennan. Apparently, a strong crop couldn’t come at a better time either, as their 1911 Hard Cider business is trending a whopping +118% in dollar sales vs. prior year, according to IRI data through mid-July. “As a result of distancing, we are operating with smaller shifts and with demand for our hard cider at an all-time high and growing, our production facility is practically running 24/7 heading into our busiest season,” commented Brennan.

Founded in 1911, Beak & Skiff is one of the largest and most popular orchards in the Empire State. New York is currently second on the list of top apple-producing states in the U.S. Brennan credits a distribution partnership, coinciding with a packaging change for the incredible success 1911 has enjoyed the past few years, “The quality and innovation of our hard ciders has been locally recognized from the start, but our 2017 partnership with United States Beverage and subsequent change from six-pack bottles to four-pack 16oz cans has led to incredible expansion.”

Formerly found only in New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania, 1911 Ciders can now be purchased in over 20 states and growing! Kris Sjolander, Vice President of Brand Development for United States Beverage added, “When you have dedicated partners like Eddie and the team at the 1911 Established Cider House, you work overtime to give them every opportunity to succeed. Our national sales team and wholesaler partners have really done a fantastic job executing our expansion strategy. It’s really exciting to see the positive consumer reaction in such a wide variety of markets, from Massachusetts to Chicago to North Carolina – the brands are flying!”

1911 is preparing to launch in three new states just in time for fall. “1911 has a loyal following year-round, but cider season really begins in late August and we are thrilled to be launching for the first time in Alabama, New Hampshire and Maryland,” said Sjolander. “The innovative products that Head Cidermaker Yann Fay and the team have produced are amazing and continue to attract distributor interest from across the country.”

The top selling seasonal of 2019, Cider Donut, has begun shipping and has strong support from both regional and national retailers. It should be widely available now. Maple Bourbon Barrel Aged cider was the first limited release in the elevated “Master’s Series” last year sold solely in Central New York, but will now be shipped throughout all 1911 markets come September in four-pack cans. New for 2020, are a pair of offerings produced, as always, with estate grown apples:

Sour Cherry is a sparkling hard cider featuring the classic flavors of McIntosh apples dialed up with cherries for a tart, semi-sweet taste profile. This cider will be released in September in attractive four-pack cans.

Snapdragon Cider, a single varietal and descendant of the Honeycrisp, is known for its monstrous crunch and features a sweet yet underlying subtle spice taste profile. It will hit shelves in October.

“This is a unique year to say the least,” concluded Sjolander. “On-premise retailers will be forced to focus more on outdoor service this fall and 1911 ciders are a natural seasonal fit both in draught or cans. With less capacity and decreased velocity in restaurants and bars, 1911 also enjoys the benefit of a long shelf life without the loss of quality. It really makes sense to offer a great cider on your fall menu.”

“Our team has worked hard to offer consumers something different in the hard cider category,” summarized Eddie Brennan. “For over 100 years, our family has put quality and innovation first, and our 1911 Established brand is no exception. Our ‘Tree to Can’ process and ingredients are handled in-house to ensure that we produce handcrafted, small-batch ciders that we hope would make our great-great grandfathers proud.”

Learn more about 1911 Established Hard Cider and locate the cider near you on their website at 1911Established.com.

Photo Credit: 1911 Established


Diskin Cider Cheers Up Fans with Summer Comfort Favorites

Diskin Cider, Nashville’s first craft cidery, released three summer seasonals starting with Local AF, a blackberry vanilla port cider; Daydream, a prickly pear rose cider; and Babe Magnet, a strawberry lime cider. All three are available only until the fall.

Local AF was first introduced at Diskin Cider’s grand opening in 2018, aptly named to put emphasis on the company’s focus on community and rebellious spirit. Now, Local AF is released in May each year as a celebration of another Diskin anniversary. Since the cidery was the first in Nashville and the first making their own cider in their own building in Tennessee, they wanted to utilize a fruit commonly associated with the state. Local AF is made with blackberries and combined with the complimentary flavors of Tahitian vanilla and rich, tawny Port wine to bring out the richness of the fruit. The blackberries are sourced locally with additional supply from Washington and Oregon. The cider is very balanced and all sweetness is derived from the fruit and hint of vanilla for a semi-sweet cider that has a tart, slightly dry beginning helped by the natural tannins. You can find Local AF in 16oz canned four-packs for $14.99 or on draft (1/2 and 1/6bbl kegs are available) until October.

Daydream was also released back in 2018 for Pride Month as a tasting room exclusive cider where a portion of the proceeds from each pint gets directly donated to the Nashville LGBT chamber to educate, inspire and empower LGBT professionals. In 2019, Diskin donated just shy of $2,000 from sales of Daydream. This year, they expect to donate even more now that Daydream is canned and sold in retail stores all over Tennessee. The cider was originally introduced as part of the “Rosé All Summer” series and consequently got its name from those picturesque summer evenings with friends, laughing and talking about all the good things possible in life. Daydream is a rosé cider derived from a blend of apples that include American heirloom apples, red-fleshed apples, and some dessert apples blended with prickly pear juice, sourced from Northwest Naturals, that has depth and complexity with an initial upfront sweetness that finishes dry. Like Local AF, this cider is available in 16oz canned four-packs for $14.99 and on draft (1/2bbl and 1/6bbl availability) until October.

Babe Magnet is the newest canned cider at Diskin back by popular demand after first releasing it as a tasting room exclusive in 2018. This cider was the first in the “Rosé All Summer” series initially released only on draft. In an effort to show the community the versatility and accessibility of cider, Diskin wanted to do an entirely different series of ciders and went for an Italian theme introducing a Peach Bellini cider and Limoncello Lemonade cider. Customers went crazy and the story goes that one fan sent a very well written ransom note, holding Diskin employee’s tastebuds hostage until Babe Magnet was returned. The staff took this to heart and decided to produce 181bbls of the cider then release it in 16oz canned four-packs for $14.99 for the first time this year. The name invokes that dreamy, whimsical vibe of feeling your best self. Babe Magnet is a unique blend of American cider and heirloom apples that are combined with strawberry and lime juice from California. It is a semi-sweet cider that makes your mouth pucker just a bit from the lime.

“We have a unique opportunity, being in the South, to educate our community and our fans about cider. Cider is not as prevalent in this part of the country so we had to teach everyone that cider made the traditional way is not overly sweet, is complex and approachable. All of our ciders focus on balance,” explained Reni Coulson, Diskin Marketing & Communications Coordinator. “Our tagline, ‘Dangerously Good’, was developed to introduce people to our cider, and convert many a non-cider drinker after we got them to taste Diskin and they exclaimed, “Wow, that is f-ing great, is that really alcohol?"”

Diskin Cider is proud to be Nashville’s first and only craft cidery bringing true local craft cider and seltzer to Tennessee and the South. Diskin breaks the mold of overly sweet cider and seltzer with the natural flavor of fresh-pressed juice and no artificial flavorings or added sugar. Diskin’s tasting room is located in the booming Wedgewood-Houston neighborhood of the city and is currently open to the public Thursday through Sunday for dine in as well as curbside pickup with 10-15 ciders on tap. On average the cidery produces 60-100bbls of tasting room exclusives so you never know what surprises you may find. Those local can also get free Davidson County delivery every day of the week. More information can be found at DiskinCider.com.

Photo Credit: Diskin Cider


10th Annual Washington Cider Week Gets Creative for Socially Distanced Fun

Starting September 10th, the tenth annual Washington Cider Week will bring the festival to you with a wide array of socially-distanced fun! Find pickup pairing dinners for your late summer picnic, virtual cidermaking and cider cocktail classes to kick-off conversation and even take home tasting packs to share with your pod. 2020 has been a real one, but Washington's homegrown cidermakers aren't going to let the sweet times of summer end until the sun sets on September 20th.

Cidermakers across the state are finding ways to create connection and community, from Liberty Ciderworks' take-home tastings in Spokane to video tours of the idyllic fields at Finnriver Cidery on the peninsula. Cider lovers can also try new fall seasonal releases from Locust Cider, Spin Cider and more!

Local cider sales are needed now more than ever. Social distancing and economic uncertainty is challenging craft cidermakers like nothing before - with limited service at bars and restaurants, cideries can't always connect cider drinkers to new cider creations. But change creates opportunity, especially for cider lovers! Many cidermakers, including Tieton Ciderworks and Westcott Bay, are now shipping right to your door. And, even tasting kits for the biggest event of all - the Seattle Cider Summit Virtual Festival - can be delivered this year!

Washington Cider Week 2020 events are coming online now and more are being posted every day - and they sell out! Bookmark WashingtonCiderWeek.org and follow WA Cider Week on Facebook to make sure you get the chance to celebrate Washington cider!

Photo Credit: Northwest Cider Association


Rekorderlig Debuts Low Calorie Ciders

Rekorderlig, the naturally gluten-free, vegan-friendly, lightly carbonated fruit hard cider created and imported from Vimmbery, Sweden, released their lower sugar, lower calorie products in the United States last month.

Rekorderlig now has one of the lowest calorie hard ciders in the market, with 70% less sugar and only 110 calories. The new cider formula has been adapted to the current lifestyle climate, appealing to health-conscious consumers and at-home bartenders. All five of Rekorderlig’s signature flavors will be available in this lower sugar, lower calorie format – Strawberry-Lime, Pear, Passion Fruit, Wild Berries and Spiced Apple. All maintain that perfect balance of mouthwatering sweetness and tanginess.

Rekorderlig recognized the continued shift toward health and wellness and, after two years of careful research and development, modified the liquid to appeal to a broader set of consumers. With 4.5% ABV, this liquid strongly replicates the original formula, whilst reducing overall sugar and calorie content.

All five of Rekorderlig’s signature flavors will be available in this lower sugar, lower calorie format – Strawberry-Lime, Pear, Passion Fruit, and Wild Berries. For more information, visit Rekorderlig.com.

Photo Credit: Rekorderlig Cider


Sauvie Island is Home to New Cider Company, Peak Light Cider

Sauvie Island farmers, Jen and Travis Lovejoy announced the launch of Peak Light Cider. The couple, with their three children, have been farming on Columbia River’s largest island, ten miles Northwest of downtown Portland, Oregon, for five years now.

The Lovejoys called their home, Pivot Farm, part in reference to the change in their life upon moving to Sauvie. And pivot they have— from educators to farmers to cidermakers. With 65 apple varieties flourishing on 10 picturesque rural acres, they found they had heaps of fruit and plenty of work to do, both caring for the land day-to-day and figuring out how to close the agricultural loop from farm to table. They wanted to see their bounty of fruit go to good use.

Farming isn’t exactly new to the Lovejoys. Jen grew up on an Eastern Washington family farm and could run the wheat harvest with her siblings by the time she was in high school. Travis remembers his grandfather hand weaving nets for fishing expeditions into interior Kauai and always raising a family garden. Both find great value in working on the land and believe agriculture should be purposeful. Travis and Jen wanted to do something intentional with their apples that would help build community. Cider was the answer.

Over the last year and a half, the Lovejoys dug in— from soil to bottle, learning the ins and outs of orcharding and cidermaking. With the fermented juice from their 2019 harvest, Peak Light Cider was born. The family is committed to sustainability, employing organic and biodynamic farming practices. Their holistic approach results in clean, wholesome, flavorful fruit.

Peak Light Cider launched with four unique offerings: Orchard Reserve Quince (750ml), Orchard Reserve Red (750ml), Field Run Dry (500ml) and Field Run Semi-Dry (500ml). All four Peak Light ciders feature blends of apples from the estate orchard. Much like the production of grape wine, specific apple varieties are selected for their naturally occurring sugars, acids, tannins and overall taste profile. The finished cider is lightly carbonated to effervescent, ensuring the complexities and nuances of the fruit still come through.

To connect cider drinkers to the land and offer education about apple varieties, the label back panels of Peak Light ciders feature a map of the Sauvie Island orchard, highlighting the individual trees apples came from for each cider with accompanying tasting notes. One of the Orchard Reserve ciders features farm grown quince in addition to apples, while the other is a deep ruby hue, the result of pressing red-fleshed apples.

All four Peak Light Ciders are available to order online with direct shipping to 38 states. The Field Run Dry and Semi-Dry will also be available at select retail partners in the greater Portland, Oregon, region soon!

To further build community, the Lovejoys are launching a club, Peak Light Cider Circle. Cider Circle offers members the ability to receive six bottles shipped direct to their door every three months at a discount. The debut Cider Circle shipment went out this month but sign-ups are happening now!

At the end of the day, the golden hour at Pivot Farm is a special one— surrounded by the Columbia and Willamette Rivers and Multnomah Channel with sweeping views of rural farmland and iconic snow-capped mountains of the Pacific Northwest framing the orchard. This expansive vista, the warm, soft light and sensation it evokes helped inspire the name, Peak Light. Peak Light is a moment for pause and appreciation, a moment that feels like coming home. Jen and Travis like to imagine a taste of coming home in every bottle.

Become a member of the Peak Light Cider Circle and learn more at PeakLightCider.com.

Photo Credit: Peak Light Cider


Portland Cider Brings Home ‘Best Cider’ Honor

Portland Cider Co., one of Oregon’s longest operating independent craft cider producers, won multiple categories at the 2020 Sunset International Wine Competition. The cider company brought home the awards for Double Gold Best of Class (Sorta Sweet), Best of Show Cider (Sorta Sweet) and Silver (Kinda Dry). Sorta Sweet took home a Double Gold medal and Best of Class title in the Hard Cider category and Best of Show with a score of 98 points

The 2020 Sunset International Wine Competition featured wines and ciders that were blind tasted by industry experts, researchers, growers, writers, producers and sommeliers to determine the winners in each category. Judging took place on June 23 and 24, 2020, in Santa Rosa, California.

“Sorta Sweet continues to be our most-awarded cider with seven total Gold Medals to its name," said Jeff Parrish, co-owner of Portland Cider Co. "It's gratifying to be awarded for your efforts, especially in a competition that is the caliber of the Sunset International Wine Competition with experienced sommeliers assessing ciders and wine from all over the world."

Since first entering competitions, Portland Cider Company’s Sorta Sweet has claimed over 15 awards, and since the cidery’s establishment, it has won nearly 100 awards for its products and taprooms, including Best Cider House and Best Cidery in Portland.

Portland Cider Co.’s Sorta Sweet is a love song to the Oregon craft cider movement and the company’s most award-winning cider. It’s semi-sweet, refreshing and effervescent, and is a winning example of the marriage of the owners of Portland Cider: an Oregon native and UK expat on a mission to bring quality cider to the world. The higher levels of natural sugars are balanced with the right amount of tartness that offers a fresh finish that tastes like biting into a crisp apple. Available year-round, Sorta Sweet is made from 100 percent Northwest apples.

While many wine and spirit competitions have been canceled for 2020, the 2020 Sunset International Wine Competition was determined to take place and saw a 10 percent increase in entries compared to the 2019 competition.

“All imaginable health precautions were taken to ensure the safety of judges and backroom staff, while the wines were given the full measure of respect they deserve. We are grateful to all the wineries that sent in their wines for evaluation. This year’s entries garnered a record number of Golds and Double Golds, making for a very competitive Sweepstakes round,” said Debra Del Fiorentino, President of Wine Competitions Production & Management, who owns and operates the Sunset International Wine Competition.

For more information about Portland Cider, visit PortlandCider.com.

Photo Credit: Portland Cider Company


Eat This…

Drink That…

Swilled Pasta Bolognese
From Swilled Dog Hard Cider

Hipster Weekender
From Blake’s Hard Cider Co.

Photo Credit: Swilled Dog Hard Cider

Photo Credit: Swilled Dog Hard Cider