Thursday, April 18, 2013

Steampunk Cider from Leonard Oakes (NY)

What the hell is steampunk and why is it in my cider?  OK, OK, so let' start off with this....what is steampunk. It's basically an aesthetic.
According to Leonard Oaskes winery, “Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, fantasy, alternate history, and speculative fiction that came into prominence during the 1980s and early 1990s. Steampunk involves a setting where steam power is still widely used—usually Victorian era Britain—that incorporates elements of either science fiction or fantasy. Works of steampunk often feature anachronistic technology or futuristic innovations as Victorians may have envisioned them, based on a Victorian perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, art, etc. This technology may include such fictional machines as those found in the works of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne.

“Other examples of steampunk contain alternative history-style presentations of such technology as lighter-than-air airships, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage and Ada Lovelace's Analytical engine. Various modern utilitarian objects have been modded by individual artisans into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style, and a number of visual and musical artists have been described as steampunk.”

So, now we know what Steampunk. Here’s a few images to help you out.


So, now that we get the whole steampunk thing, what the hell does that have to do with cider? According to the winery, “Steampunk as it relates to cider, hails from the depths of the industrial revolution. Cider was at this time a popular drink of the blue collar and the farm hand. Farm labor had even gone so far as to pay with alcoholic cider. A drunk worker was a happy one. There were many cider presses built and run with steam driven technology. At this time they were found largely on the East coast and heavily in the New England territory. Immigrants brought their love of cider from the old world, where cider, called scrumpy, was the beverage of choice in pubs.

According to Jonathan, “With the rise of prohibition, many traditional drinks where forced out of popularity. It is my personal belief that prohibition coupled with a changing apple market (cultivating of more consumer friendly apples) led to ciders ultimate decent. Cider has remained alive on the fringes, in horse barns and basements by homewinemakers and enthusiasts and family recipes and cheap drunks. A revival is in effect with an emphasis on the heritage yet a desire to find a place in the mainstream market. In an attempt to couple the old world and the new, a past beverage with a new age twist, Steampunk cider is the marriage of functional technology, Victorian age science and with a familiar yet futuristic asthetic.”


For those of you who don’t know, Jonathan Oakes, is the hipster wine maker of Leonard Oakes. Now, I don’t mean to sound flip. Jonathan is as comfortable making a classy, sophisticated Meritage dry red wine, as he is having fun with cider. The man can flat out make elegant, fantastic artisanal farm beverages. He is an artist, but instead of brushes and paint, he uses fruit and wood.

As Leonard Oakes' great grandson, Jonathan was raised as a fourth generation fruit farmer. In 2008 after graduation from Niagara College, Ontario, Canada, Jonathan made the transition into winemaker and vitaculturalist. Through strong attention to detail, Jonathan is committed to bringing you premium wines with a definitive sense of place.

So, verdict? Well, I wouldn’t have gone through all this if I didn’t like it! It was fantastic. Fresh cut apples on the nose. Nice acidity. Good bubbles. Nice alcohol pop. This is an excellent, excellent cider!

So, go futuristic one day, and reach back into the Victorian era, and grab yourself a cider. A steampunk!