Hard Cider Newsletter

ACE Premium Craft Ciders Begins National Distribution of Cans

ACE Premium Craft Ciders announced the launch of a new cider, ACE Guava, and the national rollout of additional ciders in two can formats – 12oz and 19.2oz.

ACE Guava (5% ABV) is made with Brazilian Pink Guava juice – no added sugar. The delicious fruit emits an orange color in the cider and a zesty aroma with a tropical, fruit-forward flavor that finishes semi-dry. Like other ACE ciders Guava will also be certified gluten-free and vegan. The cider will be put in six-pack 12oz cans for distribution in February, with draft options also available; and sold throughout the 49-state network of ACE wholesalers.

ACE Pineapple will join Guava’s rollout with distribution in six-pack and 12-pack 12oz cans. However, Pineapple will continue to be sold in six-pack 12oz and 22oz bottles, 19.2oz tall boy cans, and draft. According to ACE Premium Craft Ciders Founder, Jeffrey House, “ACE Pineapple (5% ABV) is the number one selling fruit cider in the nation and the world’s original pineapple cider.”

ACE Perry (5% ABV), “America’s original Pear cider” with a hint of Madagascar vanilla, will also be released in six-pack 12oz cans come February with continued packaging in six-pack 12oz and 22oz bottles, and draft.

For information on where to find ACE Premium Craft Ciders near you, please visit ACECider.com. Photos provided by William LaBranche for ACE.


Cider Association Rings in New Year with New Look, New Name, New Campaign

After eight years using the title of United States Association of Cider Makers, or USACM for short, the cider industry trade group has updated its brand. On December 31, 2019, the group unveiled its shorter, more direct name—The American Cider Association. It also released its new logo, created by graphic designer Randi Karabin of SIP Publishing.

The American Cider Association says the new look and name go hand in hand with new aggressive strategies to grow the cider industry, including achieving legislative and regulatory goals on behalf of the association’s members.

“We’re doing so much more in DC than we were four years ago. We’re speaking up for common sense labeling regulations, lobbying for legislation to lower excise taxes, campaigning for the permitted use of harvest dates on cider labels over 7% ABV, pushing for 355ml as an approved volume of fill, supporting transparency on labels regarding state of origin for apples, and more,” Executive Director, Michelle McGrath detailed.

“Cider is a grassroots industry, but it generates over a billion dollars in annual sales. We’re ready for the next evolution of our trade association,” McGrath continued. “Cidermakers will always be our #1 audience, but Congress is rising in importance. Lobbying with our old name was challenging. People often found it confusing, and you lost them about halfway through. It was long! American Cider Association is much more straightforward.”

Last August, the Cider Association’s board members gathered in DC to support the Craft Beverage Modernization and Tax Reform Act. That experience illuminated the need to rebrand. With unanimous support from the board, McGrath engaged diverse stakeholders to instruct the look and name. “There were quite a few names and logos on the cutting room floor,” McGrath said. “We embraced the best options for a professional trade association.”

Another goal for the Cider Association is to support more campaigns directed toward consumers and trade. “We will continue utilizing our Pick Cider® brand for those efforts,” she said.

“Our goals are designed to support the full diversity of producers in the industry,” said board member Eleanor Leger of Eden Specialty Ciders. “From the larger cideries that are raising cider’s visibility in the broader marketplace to the hundreds of small farm-based cideries showcasing unique apple varieties and cidermaking approaches.”

The American Cider Association’s assets have already been updated to the new name and logo with the launch of this month’s long campaign called Dry Cider January to promote their members’ ciders containing 0 grams of sugar. The Cider Association has listed the ciders on their website in the Dry Cider Directory and has been promoting them through the association’s social media channels with the hashtags #dryciderjanuary and #pickdrycider.

“The brain has a hard time distinguishing fruity from sweet. Many ciders with absolutely no sugar in them can still be fruit-forward,” explained McGrath. "You'll find there are a multitude of dry ciders available when you start seeking them.”

Alcohol is created when yeast converts sugar into alcohol through fermentation. A cider that contains no residual sugar has been fermented to absolute dryness. Sometimes cidermakers will blend a completely dry cider with fresh juice for acid/sugar balance, but other times they leave the cider entirely dry. These dry ciders are what the association is listing on their website for the campaign.

“It’s fairly common for cidermakers to list a dryness scale on their packaging nowadays. Although the definition of ‘dry’ may vary, a 0g sugar cider will generally be marked as such on the back label. ‘Bone dry’ is another term some companies may use to distinguish their 0 grams residual sugar ciders from their dry ciders with only 1 or 2g,” McGrath shared. Some dry ciders, like Brut from Virtue Cider, include nutrition labels that indicate 0g sugar.

The list of ciders on the association’s website demonstrates the flavors and styles possible not only in the cider category, but in ciders with 0g residual sugar. From single varietal ciders showcasing specific apple varieties and served in a 750ml bottle to ciders aged on rose and hibiscus petals and served in a 12oz can, the range is impressive. The Dry Cider Directory has been continually updated throughout the month of January. Follow the American Cider Association’s Instagram account @pickcider to learn more about the featured products.

The American Cider Association is developing additional campaigns for 2020 to showcase their members and highlight the diversity of flavor and style in the category. Photo courtesy of Virtue Ciders.


Portland Cider Co. Collaborates with Blue Star Donuts for New Limited Release

Portland Cider Co., one of Oregon’s longest operating independent cider producers, has announced the release of Blueberry Bourbon Basil in collaboration with Blue Star Donuts, an iconic Portland-based donut shop known for its brioche treats. Blueberry Bourbon Basil cider was released this month on draft and in 19.2 ounce cans.

The cider is inspired by Blue Star Donuts’ sweet and colorful Blueberry Bourbon Basil donut, one of the company’s most popular products, which combines fresh sweet blueberries, fragrant basil, and a good local bourbon added for a hint of caramel depth. Like the donut, Portland Cider Co.’s Blueberry Bourbon Basil features a blend of bright blueberries, fresh herbal basil and deep rich bourbon notes from oak aging.

“We originally released this cider for National Donut Day in 2017 as a small draft pub-exclusive, and it sold out within two weeks,” explained Portland Cider Co. Co-owner, Jeff Parrish. “In 2018, we made a slightly larger batch and it sold out in just a month. We’ve always wanted to package it, but we needed to work on the particulars of how to make that happen. Our new 19.2 ounce cans, launched in the second half of 2019, made it a possibility.”

Blueberry Bourbon Basil is the second release in Portland Cider Co.’s Small Batch Series, which allows the cidermakers to experiment with fun flavors and styles to introduce new ciders more frequently––giving cider lovers more of what they love. The cider has personal meaning for Deron Davenport, Portland Cider Co.’s head cidermaker. A home cidermaker turned professional, Davenport made a batch of Blueberry Bourbon Basil as one of his very first homebrew ciders.

The collaboration with Blue Star Donuts goes back to the bakery’s early days; Blue Star has used Portland Cider Co.’s award-winning flagship Kinda Dry cider in its hard cider apple fritter, sold year-round, since 2013. The two companies have since partnered on several donut and cider pairing events over the years, including Portland Cider Co.’s annual Cider & Donuts Festival, held each June as part of Oregon Cider Week.

Portland Cider Co.’s Blueberry Bourbon Basil will be available through the end of March; it can be purchased at both Portland Cider Co. taprooms and will also be distributed throughout Portland Cider’s distribution network in Oregon, Washington and Northern California into the Bay Area, including specialty bottle shops, independent grocery stores, and select Fred Meyers and Safeways in the Portland Metropolitan area.

This new release comes after an award-winning year for Portland Cider Co.; who brought home two double gold medals for its flagship Sorta Sweet cider – the first from Sip Northwest's 2019 Best of the Northwest Cider, and the second from the 2019 Cidercraft Awards.

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 balances the higher levels of natural residual sugars with just the right amount of tartness. Available year-round, Sorta Sweet offers a fresh finish that tastes like biting into a crisp apple. It has won more than a dozen medals in the last seven years, including two double golds and a few silver medals in 2019.

“We’re proud to see our flagship cider Sorta Sweet as a double gold medal winner in multiple award competitions this year,” said Jeff Parrish, co-owner of Portland Cider Co. “It’s gratifying to be awarded for your efforts and know that your handcrafted ciders are being recognized for the level of attention we give to all of our products.”

The Sip Northwest submissions were sampled blind and judged by nearly 100 leading beverage industry experts, from master sommeliers and cicerones to certified spirit judges and cider buyers, who determined the top four medalists in each respective beverage category. In addition to the double gold for Sorta Sweet, the competition awarded a silver medal to Portland Cider’s Bada Bing, Bada Blackberry, and a bronze medal to Hop’Rageous.

Cidercraft devotes itself to shining a light on the evolution and resurgence of one of the oldest beverages on the planet, bringing both education and appreciation of the drink to the people. The 2019 Cidercraft Awards featured ciders that were blind tasted by cider industry experts, researchers, growers, writers, producers and pommeliers to determine the top medalists in each of 14 categories. In addition to the Sorta Sweet double gold medal, Portland Cider Co. received a gold medal for its Pearfect Perry.

Portland Cider Co. claimed over 15 awards throughout 2019, with many of those awards going to their flagship ciders Kinda Dry, Pearfect Perry and Sorta Sweet. Since its opening, the cidery has won nearly 100 awards for its products and taprooms, including being named Best Cider House and Best Cidery in Portland.

For more information, visit PortlandCider.com. Photos provided by Crabbsoup PR for Portland Cider Company.


Long Beach’s Ficklewood Ciderworks Officially Announces Grand Opening

Ficklewood Ciderworks is celebrating their grand opening of Long Beach’s (California) first and only cidery, on Saturday, January 25, at 11 a.m. The newest addition to the East Village, formerly known as a Department of Motor Vehicles in Long Beach during the 1930-40s, has undergone an extensive transformation and is soon to be a town favorite known as Ficklewood Ciderworks.

At Ficklewood, guests will find a diverse collection of dry ciders brought together by two Long Beach families, carefully sourced ingredients, and mouthwatering collaborations. Long Beach residents and best friends, Stefano Enjem and Joe Farrier, have dreamed of this moment since the two began climbing the ladder that bridges their backyards almost every night geeking out over the perfect cider creation. The opening weekend flavors will consist of soft opening crowd favorites and new, never before seen flavors that won’t be revealed until the 25th.

In the spirit of community, nearly everything you see inside the Ficklewood space has been touched or inspired by someone in Long Beach. The inside mural was designed by local artist, Bodeck Hernandez, the delicately painted Ficklewood logo mark was done by signage expert, Nat Losbaker, the bark-like cider tap handles were ingeniously created by local craftsman, Randy Baranowsky, and most importantly, brand strategist and lead visionary, Jeff Parker of AkinsParker, also proudly calls Long Beach home.

Designed to be what founders call “Long Beach’s living room” the Ficklewood interior open layout invites guests to learn and partake in the cider making experience. While most manufacturers separate the tasting room from the fermentation process, Ficklewood welcomes it. Guests are invited to be included in the process, allowing them to see, smell and occasionally even interface with the process directly. The open layout concept is part of the Ficklewood mission to reshape the cider expectations of Southern California.

Often thought of as a ‘sweet’ or ‘sugary’ beverage, Ficklewood Ciders are dry ciders, often with zero residual sugar and always gluten-free. This is important to Joe and Stefano since they have celiacs and diabetes, respectively.

In addition, guests will be able to experience a select cider from a 9-foot high long pour. As the cider falls from near the ceiling, it aerates the beverage, imparting effervescence into the cider. The homage to the Spanish style long pour is a unique way for Ficklewood guests to learn about cider’s rich history.

As a winery in California, Ficklewood doesn’t have a kitchen on site, but invites you to support local eateries and a hosted food truck on select days! Enjoy your food and cider at any of Ficklewood’s bar tops, cozy tables and lively outdoor patio seating.

During its opening year Ficklewood will be focused on populating its 14 taps with a multitude of different flavors. Additionally, they will be working hard to distribute locally, making sure great cider is available throughout Long Beach’s wealth of culinary hotspots and well-known watering holes. You can also expect to see a series of limited release ciders, special events for their Inciders (VIP member program), and, of course, opportunities to learn about cider making.

Long Beach locals and visitors alike are encouraged to come out on Jan. 25, 2020 between 11 a.m. and 11 p.m. to experience Ficklewood as they make their debut into the community.

Ficklewood’s tasting room hours will be:
• M & T: Closed
• W & Th: 4 p.m. - 9 p.m. F: 4 p.m. - 10 p.m.
• Sa & Su: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m.

Ficklewood Ciderworks is located at 720 E. Broadway Ave., Long Beach, CA. Follow Ficklewood on Facebook and Instagram @FicklewoodCider for updates or visit their website at Ficklewood.com. Photos provided by Avana Creative for Ficklewood Cider.


CiderCon® Seeks Out Sunshine in Oakland for 2020

The American Cider Association – formerly known as the United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) – has CiderCon® 2020 coming up next week, January 28-31, at the Oakland Convention Center in sunny California! Home to more than 115 cider producers, the renowned Gravenstein apple, and orchardist legend Albert Etter, California’s cider community is ripe to play host to the growing U.S. cider industry.

Following the largest attendance on record for the annual multi-day conference in 2019, CiderCon® 2020 is expected to draw attendees from across the United States, Canada, Europe, Asia and South America to downtown Oakland. CiderCon® – the largest and most diverse gathering for cider in the US – provides industry professionals and cider enthusiasts alike a space to gather, share ideas, collaborate and learn, while sampling and celebrating ciders from around the world.

“Each time, this conference acts as a foundation for the coming year, providing cidermakers from across the country with the chance to meet their industry colleagues, exchange ideas, and learn about best practices, innovations and trends from some of the best in their field,” says Michelle McGrath, the executive director of the American Cider Association. “In addition, with this being our first-time hosting CiderCon® in California, we’re excited to showcase and give our members access to this exciting cider region, as well as a little warm weather and sun!”

With four full days of programming, including a day of cidery tours throughout central California, highlights for CiderCon® 2020 include:

Keynote speaker Jill Giacomini Basch, owner of Point Reyes Farmstead Cheese Company, on how she transformed the family dairy farm into a thriving value-added agricultural business. Sip cider and sample cheese during her address

• Return of the popular Wednesday Orcharding Seminar, this year focusing on dry orcharding and other topics relevant to orcharding in the west, including carbon farming, regulated deficit irrigation, cover crops, and hardy apple heirloom varieties. This session includes a scion exchange

Tour, tours and more tours! Visit one of three great California cider regions: Parajo Valley/San Jose, Sonoma County or East Bay (with food pairings!). Or, take a special look inside the historic Filoli Gardens, and enjoy an in-depth panel discussion about the history and importance of apple production in California. Several of these tours are already sold out so don’t delay in booking one remaining!

• Ireland as the featured country for 2020. Sample alongside and hear from some of Ireland’s top cider makers and learn about their unique challenges and opportunities

More than 110 trade show vendors (up from 100 in 2019) gathered with information on cidery equipment, point of sale, sales tools and more! Cider samples will be available throughout the trade show floor

• An enhanced cider making track, with curated workshops coordinated in partnership with the Cider Institute of North America (CINA). These sessions cover a range of topics from fault evaluation and prevention to aging ciders

• An exciting array of tasting seminars, covering everything from Pét-Nats to varietal specifics and terroir spotlights (this year featuring: Franklin County, Massachusetts, the home of one of the oldest cideries in the country)

• A seminar with Dr. J Jackson-Beckham on why ‘being friendly isn’t enough’ during her important session Strategies and Tactics for Being Inclusive and Building Diversity

As an added bonus, the annual conference will be taking place during the first Bay Area Cider Week, happening January 26 - Feb 2. Join us in exploring the delicious universe of Central California cider by exploring local orchards, indulging in local cider pairing dinners, and sampling all the region has to offer with tap-takeovers and more. Visit BayAreaCiderWeek.com for more information or to submit an event.

CiderCon® 2020 is open only to current Cider Association members, including cideries, cider enthusiasts, supporting businesses and more. Those interested can learn more about the Cider Association member benefits and sign up for membership on the American Cider Association website, CiderAssociation.com.


Golden State Cider Releases 2019 Edition of ‘Save the Gravenstein’

Golden State Cider announced the release of their 2019 edition, Save The Gravenstein. This is the flagship of their Harvest Series, a seasonal product line featuring local, estate heirloom apples from Sebastopol, California.

Single varietal ciders are rare in the cider world and ‘Save The Gravenstein’ showcases the Gravenstein apple, a premium varietal native to Sonoma County and renowned throughout California. This cider is crisp and well-balanced, featuring flavors of orange blossom honey and fresh florals with well-structured acidity.

“Saving Gravenstein apples was our original company mantra when we first started making cider,” says Tim Godfrey, Head Cider Maker for Golden State Cider. “Our intention is to save the local Gravenstein orchards, which have been rapidly declining since the 80s, by creating a single varietal cider. This cider showcases just how special and unique the Gravenstein apple really is.”

Save the Gravenstein pays homage to the history of the Gravenstein apple and farming in Sonoma County. There is nothing quite like the sense of place that comes with spending time in these apple orchards, surrounded by golden rolling hills. The overarching goal for this cider and the Harvest Series is to focus on heritage apple varietals that can help sustain the apple industry in our home county and keep apple trees in the ground.

“We want to change the story by bringing the Gravenstein apple back into the spotlight,” says Godfrey. “Our mission is to help orchards and farms in communities across California revive and cultivate traditional apple varietals by increasing consumer awareness and demand through cider making and canning. It is Golden State’s mission to grow apples through cider.”

Golden State Cider is releasing this product with limited availability of 1,700 cases and a limited number of kegs. With continued consumer interest in previous Save the Gravenstein releases, this is the largest year of Save the Gravenstein cider the cidery has ever produced.

Save the Gravenstein cider is 7.0% ABV and sold in four-packs of 16oz cans and draft format. Crafted with 100% dry-farmed Sonoma County apples, this cider is gluten-free and low in carb with no sugar added.

For additional information on where to find Save the Gravenstein, visit DrinkGoldenState.com. Photos provided by Golden State Cider.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Mac & Cheese with Chicken-Apple Sausage
From the Tasting Table Test Kitchen

Elderflower Surprise
From Tinky Weisblat for the Recorder

Photo Credit: Rachel Vanni/Tasting Table

Credit: Paul Franz/Greenfield Recorder