5 Cider Producers Worth Trying
October 17, 2012
Kick back with some hard cider, guaranteed to be a hit at home and entertaining
Eden Ice Cider
Eden Ice Cider is in the Northeast part of Vermont. Its specialty is Ice Cider. Making ice cider is a unique process. Apples are harvested and kept in cold storage until consistent cold winter weather sets in. The apples are then pressed and the juice is set outdoors to freeze for six to eight weeks. A freezing and melting off process leaves a concentrate that is high in sugar (36 percent) and flavor. This concentrate is fermented then filtered and bottled. The result is smooth and rich, very similar to a dessert. It is slightly higher in alcohol content (10 percent) than hard ciders. Eden Ice Cider would be the perfect finish to a harvest dinner.
Eden Ice Cider
Eden also makes a unique aperitif. They found that there was always some left over concentrate after they finished collecting for the Ice Cider. The concentrate had a lower sugar level, about 26%, so they couldn’t make ice cider out of it but they did not want it to go to waste. After some experimentation they came up with Orleans. It is an aperitif modeled after Lillet. It has the sweetness of the apple cider but a strong herbal flavor that comes from an infusion of fresh herbs. It is a wonderful aperitif that could work with Prosecco, on the rocks or in any number of cocktails. Orleans is definitely worth trying and playing with.
Eve’s Cidery is a small family-run orchard and limited production cidery in the Finger Lakes region of New York. Located in the town of Van Etten, the cidery is run by the wonderfully named Autumn Stoscheck and her husband Ezra Sherman. They make their cider once a year at harvest time in the style of champagne. Eve's Cidery has four sparkling ciders, which run from the dry "Northern Spy" to the crisp and slightly sweet "Bittersweet." I especially liked the "Rustica," which is a hard cider that has ice cider added at the end for some depth and sweetness. The ice cider that is added is their own brand, "Essence" and is very nice on its own.
Beak & Skiff Apple Farms
Beak & Skiff Apple Farms in Lafayette, N.Y., has been in the apple business for five generations. They are a leader in the apple cider business, producing 1 million gallons of sweet cider a year. Beak & Skiff started their hard cider business in 2001 and have won several awards for their fine creations. I sampled three of their hard ciders: The "Early American Traditions" hard cider is a nice, clean, dry cider that has a nice bite. The "Original" hard cider is slightly sweeter and lighter than the "American Traditions." The "French Style" hard cider is lower in alcohol than the other two and very sweet. It is close to a sweet cider and very drinkable, making it a good entry point for people used to sweet ciders.
Steampunk Cider is the creation of Jonathan Oakes, who grew up in an apple-growing family that has branched out into making wines. They are based out of Medina, N.Y., and they make only one version of hard cider. The name Steampunk was chosen because Oakes felt the name perfectly captured the combination of Old World, English-style cider-making and modern American ingenuity that resulted in their hard cider. Oakes' cousin Jerod Thurber was manning the table, and I challenged him with that fact that a cider named Steampunk had better deliver the goods. His simple response was, "Let me show you." And deliver it did. Steampunk is made from a blend of 15 different apple varieties. It is crisp, with a well-balanced apple flavor and a nice finish. If you are only going to make one product it had better be good, and Steampunk certainly is.
Slyboro Cider House
Slyboro Cider House is located in Granville, N.Y. Their orchard is in Slyboro, thus the name, and they claim to have the oldest "you-pick" orchard in New York, dating back to 1905. They make three different ciders; "Hidden Star," a semi-dry cider made from Liberty and Northern Spy apples, is my favorite. It is a light cider, crisp but sweet and simple. "Hidden Star" would make a great summer drink, perfect for picnics and fireworks. "Old Sin" is their dry cider, made from McIntosh and Golden Russet apples. Their ice cider, "Ice Harvest," is added at the end to raise the sweetness level. The "Ice Harvest" ice cider is a very nice on its own as well.