There are few places on earth that compare with the cider
country of the east coast! From Canada to Virginia, there is more variety and
more creativity than almost anywhere else in the world.
Just for the record, what is cider and where does it come
According to Wikipedia, “Cider or cyder (/ˈsaɪdər/ SY-dər)
is a fermented alcoholic beverage made from fruit juice, most commonly and
traditionally apple juice, but also the juice of peaches, pears
("Perry" cider) or other fruit. Cider varies in alcohol content from
1.2% ABV to 8.5% or more in traditional English ciders. In some regions, such
as Germany and United States, cider may be called "apple wine".
In the United States and some parts of Canada, "hard
cider" usually refers to the alcoholic beverage discussed in this article,
while "cider" may refer to non-alcoholic apple juice. When sugar or
extra fruit has been added and a secondary fermentation increases the alcoholic
strength, a cider is classified as "apple wine".
Cider may be made from any variety of apple, but certain
cultivars grown solely for use in cider are known as cider apples. Cider is
popular in the United Kingdom, especially in the West Midlands (region), South
West England and East Anglia. The United Kingdom has the highest per capita
consumption of cider, as well as the largest cider-producing companies in the
world, including H. P. Bulmer, the largest. As of 2006, the U.K. produces
600 million litres of cider each year (130 million imperial gallons). Much
cider today is made from apple pulp rather than fresh apples and may contain
added sweeteners or flavors.
The beverage is also popular and traditional in some
European countries as Ireland and the French regions of Brittany (chistr) and
Normandy (cidre); In Spain it is especially popular in the Principality of
Asturias (sidra) although it can also be found in the Basque Country (sagardo)
and Galicia (sidra); Germany is another country where cider is drunk, above all
in Rhineland-Palatinate and Hesse (Frankfurt am Main). In Poland which is the
largest producer of apples in Europe, cider (Cydr, or Jabłecznik) is just
recently gaining on popularity however a lot of English, Swedish, Irish ciders
are made from Polish apple concentrate that is considered very high quality.
Argentina is also a cider-producing and -drinking country, especially the
provinces of Río Negro and Mendoza. Australia also produces cider, particularly
on the island of Tasmania, which has a strong apple-growing tradition.
Pear cider is used as an alternative name for perry in the
marketing of some producers' products.
And what of cider in the US? According to Dan Wilson’s
webpage for Slyboro House, “Ciders once ruled all other drinks in taverns and
farmsteads in early colonial America. Apple seeds were brought over on ships
from Europe along with centuries of cidermaking traditions that quickly spread
through the New World. With the westward expansion of pioneers and the help of
"Johnny Appleseed", orchards were planted on most farms with the dual
purpose of establishing proof of cultivation and homesteading and providing a
source of cider. Fermented ciders were consumed in this region more than any
other drink bar none. In 1726, the per capita average consumption of cider was
35 gallons per person! Farms, families and towns would work together to put up
thousands of barrels of cider each year. Barrel fermented cider could either be
mild or strong, depending on the recipe or treatment and no doubt fine ciders
were made. These ciders were relatively low in alcohol, so children and adults
drank cider regularly. In some cases it was considered safer to drink than the
local water. President John Adams was known to drink a tankard of cider each
morning to promote his good health.
The Whig party in 1840 used the symbols of a "Log cabin
and barrel of cider" to represent the self reliance of traditional
American values in their bid for the Presidency (they won). Cider was also used
in the place of currency in rural areas, being used to pay for services from
the doctor, minister, etc.
Alas, a series of events brought about the decline in
cidermaking and drinking in America. The advent of the Temperance movement and
Prohibition brought about the chopping down of many orchards and declaration of
cider as an evil drink. The migration of a largely rural population to more
urban centers and an influx of German immigrants to these areas paved the way
for large scale beer production which was easier and cheaper to produce in
these urban centers. By the time Prohibition was lifted, cidermaking had
virtually disappeared and was being replaced by farmers marketing apple juice
or "sweet" cider.
But now, there is a renewed passion for modern cidermaking
in North America. Not surprisingly, there are good cidermakers on each coast. I
favour the east coast. No surprise there.
The top tier cideries include La Face Cachee De La Pomme, Farnum
Hill, and West County Cider. These are people who make art from apples. They
are the best ciders and the highest quality. They treat cider like great
winemakers create great wine. Some of my other favorites include Warwick
Valley, Beak & skiff, Steampunk Cider, Foggy Ridge, Bellwether, and Slyboro
House. They people also make great ciders.
Some of the most important people in cider include Elizabeth
Ryan (Breezy Hill), Steve Wood (Farnum Hill), Sara Grady (Cider Week), and Dan
Wilson (Slyboro House) are among the biggest movers and shakers in the
All the cidermakers listed herein make wonderful cider. Two
individual reviews missing, in my estimation, would be Bellwether and Slyboro
House. I have reviewed their ciders in the past, but it seems I could not find
individual reviews of their line-ups…something I will have to remedy as soon as
possible. Both are excellent producers.
Of the ice cidermakers, La Face, Slyboro and Eve’s Cidery
all make excellent ice ciders.
Also, new things are being done with ciders. They been made using witte beer yeasts, aged in Bourbon barrels, and made with hops and pumpkin! This is not you grandfather's apple cider.
The following links are to pieces I’ve written over the
years. They are in no particular order.
Esquire Raves About East Coast Ciders
Visit Vortex: Ye Olde Hard Cider is Hipster Cool
THE APPLE AS ART: A VISIT TO LA FACE CACHEE DE LA POMME
Beak & Skiff - Cider and Spirits With An Old-Fashioned
Blurring the Line Between Craft Brewing and Cider -Bad Seed
Cider Lights Up the Industry (HV)
Steampunk Cider from Leonard Oakes (NY)
Jack's Hard Cider from Hauser Estate Winery (PA) Fantastic!
A Visit to Farnum Hill Ciders (NH): Watching Art Being Made
Furnace Brook Winery at Hilltop Orchards
West County Cider Redfield in the Berkshires (MA)
Harvest Moon Red Barn Raspberry Hard Cider
Foggy Ridge First Fruit Hard Cider (VA)
Warwick Valley Doc's Draft Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider (NY)
HUDSON VALLEY INTRODUCES CIDER KIR ROYALE
Mount Vernon Mulled Apple Cider
Summer Time and the call goes out for Cider!
Spencerville Red Hard Apple Cider from Colesville, MD Wow!
All Hail Essence From Eve's Cidery
Annandale Cider from Montgomery Place Orchards
A DOZEN REASONS TO TRY FRUIT DESSERT WINES FROM THE HUDSON
VALLEY (Slyboro House)
Brookview Station Jo-Daddy's Hard Cider
Some of My Favorite Hudson Valley Ciders