Friday, May 18, 2012

Jack's Hard Cider from Hauser Estate WInery (PA) Fantastic!

Cider is one of those beverages that I absolutely have to have. I love the dry to semi-sweet sparkling hard ciders one finds on the east coast from Maine all the way down to Virginia, and of course out to Washington and Oregon. One of the places I rarely think of when I am thinking of cider is Pennsylvania. True, home of the whiskey rebellion, and home to so many great brewers and brewing traditions…but cider? Not usually.

And I don’t specifically think of Biglerville, Pennsylvania when I think about cider either. Call me odd. Call me peculiar. But the history of Jack’s Hard Cider is a fascinating one.

The fertile soil of Pennsylvania’s farm land in fact provides a home to the thousands of trees that produced millions of apples every season. A majority of America’s apples come from communities in Adams County Pennsylvania. Jack’s story begins in 1907, when John S. Musselman, Sr. and his two sons, John Jr. and Christian High, purchased the Biglerville Canning Company. After a successful first year, Christian H. Musselman began building a second canning facility in Gardners, Pa. The plant was up and running by 1913. This new plant, and the original one in Biglerville, provided much needed canned goods for the servicemen during World War I, including corn, tomatoes, and sliced apples.

Musselman’s success and the growth that followed quickly. John (Jack) A. Hauser was hired into the distribution department in 1934, during the depression. He married a local woman, having met her while they both attended Temple University. John then rose through the departments within the processing plant until he was positioned to take over the company.

In 1944, Mr. Musselman passed away and Jack Hauser stepped in as president. Through Jack’s tireless efforts, Musselman’s became a household name across the country with apple products of all types on virtually every grocery store shelf.

Jack Hauser, and his wife, Helen (now 100 years old!) endowed the Hauser family with orchards, farmland and an estate for future generations to continue in their tradition of world class agriculture.

On July 22nd, 2008, Hauser Estate Winery opened its doors as an alternative agri-tourism venture in Gettysburg Pennsylvania. In the fall of 2008, Hauser’s first bottle of hard cider rolled off the bottling line and was labeled “Jack’s” in memory of the great man who made it all possible.

The completely under-ground, naturally cool (55 degree) winery & cidery, churns out thousands of gallons of Jack’s Hard Cider per year. Each batch starts as apples skillfully grown and tended to by our farm manager Lee Wagner. Their juice is then carefully crafted by our Cider-maker and is filtered slowly to maintain flavor and a high level of smoothness for which our product has been noted. Jack’s Hard Cider awaits maturity in state of the art stainless steel tanks, is bottled on-site and rests for a short period to allow for “bottle shock” to wear away.

I first came across Jack's Hard Cider while out in Lancaster, PA, while attending the Eastern Wineries Expo some time back. I have to admit, the packaging caught my eye first. Fantastic package. They bottle to look like beer, whether in green glass bottle (like the beer of old Latrobe) or in a beer can. But the design on the can is so cool. so simple and forthright, it's amazing. Secondly, the taste is wonderful. Crisp, clean, lean. Lots of bright acidity, none of the mustiness that can sometimes accopany a cider. Nothing but fresh, ripe apples, a great nose of baked bread and fresh apples like a freshly baked pie.