Hard Cider Newsletter

Cider Makers Fill a Gap During Health Crisis

As companies figure out how to weather the public health crisis economically and continue to invest in the communities that have supported them, many are deciding to shift production for critically needed products and services. As we witness empty store shelves, sold-out online inventory, a back-up of production, and even price gouging, cider producers are utilizing their resources to make hand sanitizer.

On Friday, March 13, just a day after the announcement of major sports leagues suspending operations, government edicts banning gatherings, and the beginning of social distancing with work-from-home orders, 3 Daughters Brewing, which makes cider, beer, and hard seltzer, had already produced and made available hand sanitizer to its customers by 5:00pm in its tasting room located in St. Petersburg, Florida. After donating a large portion to first responders, law enforcement and high-risk individuals, the staff then sold bottles to customers. As of March 23, the 3 Daughters team made over 4,000 containers of hand sanitizer – officially depleting their raw materials and selling out. The company has made a call for raw materials to continue producing more.

In New Wilmington, Pennsylvania, Nova Destinations, which is the parent company of Knockin Noggin Cidery & Winery, decided to help address the shortage of sanitizer by producing Operation Grape hand sanitizer. Nova repurposed the alcohol it already makes for the main ingredient to include 70% alcohol. Most of the hand sanitizer produced was donated through Nova’s non-profit venture, Operation Grape, to first responders and nursing homes but a limited amount was also available for purchase to cover the cost of production. To date, two batches of the sanitizer have been made and sold out; but the company is planning to make additional batches which you can get on their waiting list for.

As of Friday, March 27, Cider Creek Hard Cider’s first batch of hand sanitizer became available. The cider maker partnered with other community businesses such as The Brute, Wild Brute Winery, and Krooked Tusker Distillery to manufacture the sanitizer out of their Canisteo, New York, facility. Cider Creek produced approximately 800 8-ounce bottles with 80% alcohol antiseptic and plans to have another 800 bottles available by April 1st. Customers can purchase the sanitizer for $6 a bottle which covers the cost of making the product. The sanitizer can be ordered by contacting the cidery but plans are to distribute the bottles locally with a focus on local hospitals, nursing homes, and emergency responders.

Harvest Spirits Farm Distillery, based in Valatie, New York, which produces apple-based spirits from family farm, Golden Harvest Farms, is also producing hand sanitizer. The company saw demand for alcohol-based topical antiseptic solution and decided to shift the distillery’s operations over to sanitizer production. Using apples to create the alcohol, apple cider jugs, and their cider bottler, the Harvest Spirits team is producing 75% alcohol hand cleaner. Customers can purchase the sanitizer but those that contribute to its production, such as providing hydrogen peroxide, receive a bottle in exchange.

Another New York cider producer, Rootstock Cider and Spirits, in Williamson, announced they are working with Waterloo Container and Niagara Label to gear up production of hand sanitizer. The cidery’s first batch sold out in just a few hours but they are expecting to make another batch available. Rootstock is offering their “Ella’s Hanitizer” hand sanitizer at cost to make it accessible to customers but also keep their operations ongoing.


West End Ciderhouse and Distillery started making sanitizer in early March to combat the shortage in their Athens, Ohio, community. To make their hand sanitizer, the staff is using alcohol that came off the still at 95.6% and combining it with other inactive ingredients to have a finished hand sanitizer at 80% alcohol. They are selling 4-ounce FDA approved bottles for $6 each at their distillery’s retail store, and soon the local Shriver’s Pharmacy. However, they began filling bulk container orders on March 21 for those looking for higher amounts such as grocery stores, healthcare providers, and maintenance workers.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. Check your local cidery, brewery or distillery to see if they are making or will be producing hand sanitizer.

Photos courtesy of respective producer and Unsplash.


Alcohol Regulations Loosened at State Level to Assist Producers Under COVID-19 Restrictions

Before the coronavirus made headlines, the cider industry was experiencing some challenges but local and regional cider makers were still growing. Many factors contributed to this growth but profitable tasting rooms certainly played a large part. As COVID-19 became a serious public health issue and state’s started issuing restrictions, the food and beverage industry was one of the first to feel the economic repercussions due to the inability to host customers for a pint. In an effort to alleviate the economic pinch, several states loosened their alcohol regulations to permit food and beverage companies the ability to sell curbside, make deliveries, ship direct to consumers, and allow the sale of cocktails among other things.

After the cease of on-premise food and beverage sales in New York to aid the prevention of the spread of the coronavirus, Governor Andrew Cuomo included off-premises privileges for licensed businesses with previous on-premises privileges. Those privileges include the following:

• Any on-premises licensee may sell for off-premises consumption any alcohol beverage that it is able to normally sell for on-premises consumption so long as it is sold in a closed or sealed original container, the sale is accompanied by the purchase of food, and the sale is consistent with municipal open container ordinances (this includes mixed drinks).

• Alcohol beverages sold for off-premises consumption may be sold by takeout from the licensed premises or may be delivered to the customer’s residence (so long as the delivery is made in a vehicle permitted by the State Liquor Authority or a vehicle-owned and -operated, or hired and operated by the licensee or its employee, during on-premises hours of operation set forth).

• Alcohol beverage manufacturers with licenses that allow for only off-premises privileges (i.e. cider to-go) may take orders from customers not at the premises for delivery so long as the delivery includes food.

Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a waiver on certain alcohol regulations one of which allows restaurants to deliver alcoholic beverages, including beer, wine and mixed drinks, with food to patrons.

In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis included the following in his Executive Order to take immediate effect on March 20:

• All vendors licensed to sell alcoholic beverages for consumption on-premises must cease on-premises sales but may continue to sell alcoholic beverages in sealed containers for off-premise consumption.

• Specially licensed food service establishments who were prohibited from selling package sales of alcohol for delivery, take-out or consumption off-premises are now permitted to do so for the duration of the state of emergency declared so long as the alcoholic beverage is sold in a sealed container for off-premises consumption and accompanied by the sale of food in the same order.

California’s Department of Alcoholic Beverage Control issued a notice of regulatory relief, as well, citing the temporary suspension of certain legal prohibitions such as:

• Off-premises retailers may purchase alcoholic beverages from on-premises retailers to the same extent they can purchase such beverages from suppliers authorized to sell them (i.e. wholesalers, manufacturers, and winegrowers).

• Licensees with on-premises privileges may sell those alcoholic beverages for off-premises consumption in manufacturer pre-packages containers.

• Bonafide eating places (i.e. restaurants) selling beer, wine, pre-mixed drinks or cocktails for consumption off the licensed premises may do so when sold in conjunction with meals prepared for pick-up or delivery so long as the alcoholic beverage is packed in a container with a secure lid/cap and in a manner designed to prevent consumption without removal of the lid/cap (i.e. no lids with openings for straws); and a consumer notice is prominently posted regarding open container laws.

• Licensees are permitted to make sales and deliveries of alcoholic beverages to persons in a motor vehicle or via a pass-out window or a slide-out tray to the exterior of the premises.

• Licensees who are authorized to sell alcoholic beverages to consumers for consumption off the licensed premises may now accept payment at the point of delivery but must still adhere to a maximum sale of 2.25 liters per consumer per day. Curbside delivery is also permitted.

Oregon’s Liquor Control Commission Executive Director, Steve Marks, indicated the following emergency rules approved:

• Licensees that currently have an off-premises license (or a license that includes off-premises sales privileges with same-day delivery) approval to make delivery of malt beverages, wine and cider to customers at curbside. Home delivery was already allowed but the hours of same-day delivery of alcohol have been extended to 2:30am.

• Existing limited on-premises sales and full on-premises sales licensees now have access to a streamlined application process for a 90-day Authority to Operate with an off-premises sales license to start selling malt beverages, wine and cider to-go.

• Expanded flexibility for liquor stores in hours and closure.

• Curbside delivery permitted for liquor stores and distillery tasting rooms so long as the sale is of a factory-sealed container.

The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board provided the following guidance for licensees:

• Temporary allowance of Spirits, Beer, Wine Restaurant license holders to sell closed, manufacturer-sealed, bottles or cans of beer, wine and spirits in combination with the sale of food to-go or by delivery.

• Beer, Wine, Spirit Restaurant, Beer and Wine Restaurant, and Tavern licensees are allowed to make curbside and/or delivery sales of alcohol under specific conditions.

• Breweries and liquor stores may deliver growlers as long as the delivery is made by licensee employees.

Tennessee Governor Bill Lee enacted a provision for restaurants, bars and similar food and drink establishments to sell alcohol by take-out or delivery options with the purchase of food in closed containers in Executive Order 17.

In Virginia, the Alcoholic Beverage Control Authority adjusted regulations amid the pandemic to include the following:

• Businesses with strictly on-premises privileges (i.e. restaurants, etc.) are allowed to exercise off-premises privileges such as allowing the sale of wine or beer in sealed containers to curbside pickup customers and delivery of those products to customers’ homes so long as the order is taken electronically either online, over the phone or through an app in advance.

• Licensees with off-premises privileges, including breweries, farm wineries and wineries, may sell products for curbside pickup or make deliveries to customers’ homes.

• Distillery stores may deliver products to customers seated in their vehicle on the premises (i.e. parking lot).

• Licensees may use third-party delivery services to deliver wine or beer on their behalf, but must have a written contract with the vendor specifying terms.

Support local and pick cider while imbibing at home. Your small business purchase goes a long way in keeping the company’s operations ongoing and the industry moving forward in a difficult time. Since this is only a sampling of how some states are loosening regulations to provide options to a burdened food and beverage industry, check in with your local cidery, bar and/or restaurant. They would love to hear from you and tell you of their options, if any.

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.


Seltzer Y’all! Austin Eastciders Launched Spiked Seltzer Line

Austin Eastciders has expanded beyond hard cider to launch a spiked seltzer that’s 100 calories and made with real fruit, cider, and nothing artificial! As hard seltzer is now a $1.7BB category growing over 220% last year alone, the Austin-based cult-favorite cider set out to delight fans looking for a fresh seltzer that overachieves on flavor.

As a company always focused on innovation and better-for-you offerings, the new Austin Eastciders Spiked Seltzer line is the perfect way to match consumers nutritional needs with a better tasting seltzer in unique flavors. This month, Austin Eastciders Spiked Seltzers started showing up on shelves in all markets where they currently sell. Coming out first in 6-packs and draft was Black Cherry, a light-bodied and fruity seltzer with real cherry juice. Consumers looking for a medley of great flavors will enjoy a Spiked Seltzer Variety 12-Pack including Black Cherry, Peach, and Apple which also hit shelves.

Brittnay Perlo, Master Cider Maker at Austin Eastciders noted, “Our new spiked seltzers have a burst of flavor with a light and refreshing finish. Many other spiked seltzers are made by formulating refined sugars or other grains. Our seltzer is made by fermenting real fruit to get a flavor that’s delicious and we can feel good about.”

Black Cherry Spiked Seltzer will be sold in a 6-pack, draft, and a variety 12-pack which will include four cans of each Peach, Apple, and Black Cherry. Visit AustinEastciders.com to find your local retailer. Photos provided by Havas Buzzlounge for Austin Eastciders.


Blake’s Hard Cider Reports Growth Entering 2020

Prior to the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, Blake’s Hard Cider (BHC) of Armada, Michigan, had good news to report from their 2019 year-end findings. In a time where there is a great deal of negative news, sharing Blake’s excitement didn’t seem fitting but it is a bright spot in a time where the cider industry is working through difficulties. BHC was the top-three U.S. cidery for sales growth in 2019 and entered the top 20 in overall U.S. cider sales. The cider producer expects to enter the top 10 in 2020 with ciders available in 18 states. Sales in the established Midwest and Southeast markets were up over 43 percent and 35 percent year-over-year respectively, in newer markets launched since 2018, sales growth continues to be exponential.

Innovation and authenticity continue to drive more retailers and consumers to BHC. The successful launch of berry-infused Triple Jam, the 100 calorie, 0g sugar and 4g carb Lite Ciders and philanthropic-based Kinder Ciders led the huge growth in sales. In 2019, Blake’s produced more than 26,000 barrels of its popular craft ciders. Triple Jam is Blake’s #1 selling can package brand and Flannel Mouth, Blake’s flagship cider, is their #1 selling draft brand. The Kinder Series Ciders follows as Blake’s #2 selling draft and package brand.

“There has never been a more exciting time for hard cider. My family has been devoted to apples since my grandfather opened our farm in 1946,” said Andrew Blake, founder and president of Blake’s Hard Cider. “As apple experts, we are inspired to create unique and flavorful hard ciders. We are proud of our growth and that our consumers love Blake’s Hard Ciders as much as we do.”

BHC continues this momentum roaring into the 20’s reporting January and February retail sales up over 58 percent and shipments up over 60 percent from 2019 across their distribution footprint. BHC also expects to increase shipments by 50 percent in current markets and announce a territory expansion of three additional states. Traffic Jam 16-ounce single serve cans, four brand-new Lite Cider flavors, two new Limited Series cider offerings, and one yet-to-be announced product will headline what BHC expects to be another record-breaking sales year in 2020.

“Craft hard cider is experiencing a renaissance similar to what American craft brewers did over the past 12-15 years. The excitement is real,” explained BHC Vice President Scott Roberts. “We plan to continue to expand the cider culture and give legal-age consumers a small taste of the family farm in Armada through our award-winning hard ciders.”

In an effort to encourage their customers to make the most of staying at home and saving lives, Blake’s Hard Cider has offered some creative ways to stay connected with you. If you’re looking to be literally creative while adhering to stay-at-home orders, you can download coloring pages of some BHC Kinder Cider series labels. The staff also have a recommended quarantine drinking tour if you’re looking for an organized way to sip BHC ciders. Check it out on their Facebook page. Those in Michigan can pick-up cider in the Blake’s Cider Mill or through their new drive thru. Also available in both locations is free lunch to those under 18, who may otherwise go without lunch seven days a week from 11am-3pm. Blake’s Hard Cider, along with their family of brands: Blake Farms and Blake’s Orchard & Cider Mill, wants to make sure kids get fed during school closures.

Visit BlakesHardCider.com to locate their ciders near you. Photos courtesy of Blake’s Hard Cider.


Bryant’s Cider Releases New Astrological Sign Line

Bryant’s Cider is giving consumers something to look forward to – the release of a new cider line featuring a special, limited release cider for each zodiac sign. For the first time ever, customers and all astrology lovers will be able to taste their star sign as a hard cider.

The first sign to have a special cider in the Star Sign Line is Aries and it will be released on April 11, 2020. The rest of the zodiac signs in the line will be released closer to the birth month in which they represent.

Since Aries is a fire sign, the cider will have added heat by being flavored with cayenne peppers. This cider will also include Mexican chocolate, cinnamon and nutmeg for a spicy yet sweet taste.

“I wanted to make sure that every zodiac sign’s flavor had a relevant symbolization. The Bryant’s team and I decided that the flavor of each cider will be chosen based on the sign’s astrological element. These elements include fire, earth, water, and air and we are keeping them in mind as we produce this line,” said Bryant’s Cider owner and cider maker, Jerry Thornton.

Fire signs will all have a spicy profile by having a pepper theme, earth signs will be earthy and will have a tea as their base, water signs will be represented by fruit, and air signs will be floral.

Bryant’s Cider produces completely sugar-free, naturally carbonated ciders and uses whole and local ingredients whenever possible. The ciders in the Star Sign Line will continue to represent Bryant’s by being completely dry like the rest of the ciders that Thornton crafts.

Customers can find more information on the Star Sign Line ciders and their release dates by following the Bryant’s Cider Instagram and Facebook pages where those announcements will be posted. Visit BryantsCider.com for more information on the cidery. Photos courtesy of Bryant’s Cider.


ANXO Cidery Launched Limited-Release Cider in Celebration of Women’s Month

ANXO located in Washington, DC, announced its third annual Women’s Month celebration, a month-long fundraising and programming initiative that highlighted incredible women in food, beverage, art and a variety of other fields.

What started in 2018 as a single fundraiser on International Women’s Day grew into an annual celebration of women makers, creators and business owners. This year, ANXO had more than twenty Women’s Month events planned at both its Cidery & Pintxos Bar in Truxton Circle (300 Florida Ave. NW) and at its Cidery & Tasting Room in Brightwood Park (711 Kennedy St. NW). Unfortunately, those events had to be postponed due to the coronavirus outbreak but the incredible line-up of exclusively women-made and/or -owned beverages were still available all month at ANXO’s brick and mortar locations for pickup and takeout.

“Our community has so many amazing and creative women that deserve to be celebrated. We’re excited to be able to shine a spotlight on them and in the process, raise money for organizations that are important to us,” commented Rachel Fitz, ANXO Co-founder and Director of Operations.

For the second year, ANXO teamed up with Vermont-based Eden Specialty Ciders to launch Nevertheless Dry Cider (formerly, Nevertheless She Persisted), a limited-release made with American, Dutch and French Heirloom apples. This year, Nevertheless was sold in markets across the country, driving donations to the Planned Parenthood & ANXO fundraising site through a call to action featured right on the can, and was part of a larger initiative for Women’s Month with a goal to raise $12,000 in March for the organization. The new cider launched on March 1 with an official Women’s Month kick-off party at the Truxton Circle restaurant.

“Our goal is to encourage other establishments in DC, distributors and accounts across the country to host their own fundraising efforts in which they can donate through our donation page,” noted Fitz. In addition to direct donations, ANXO raised funds for Planned Parenthood through the sale of special Women’s Month apparel and through two special events, including their International Women’s Day celebration, which took place on March 8 at the Cidery & Pinxtos Bar.

ANXO donated to and supported four DC-based organizations in March as well: Girls Rock, N Street Village, I Support the Girls and She Should Run. Throughout the month, one dollar from each pour of Nevertheless and Never Doubt Brut IPA (made in collaboration with Denizens Brewing Co.) at ANXO’s restaurant and cidery and tasting room were donated, with each organization being highlighted for one week of the month.

To donate money directly to ANXO for Planned Parenthood, visit their fundraising site here. Keep up with ANXO online at ANXODC.com. Photos courtesy of ANXO.


Eat This…

Drink That…

Cider-Braised Drumsticks with Bacon, Fennel & Apple
From Tyler Kord and Food52 via StarTribune

Finnriver Honey Meadow Mimosa
From Jana Daisy-Ensign via Cidercraft Magazine

Photo Credit: James Ransom

Photo Credit: Jen Lee Light