Weekend Trips for the Cider Lover
Plan your hard cider vacation with these must-do cidery tours, festivals and cider pubs.
Photo By: Capitol Cider
Photo By: Shacksbury Cider
Photo By: Finger Lakes Cider House
Photo By: Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider
Photo By: Black Mountain Ciderworks and Meadery
Photo By: Downeast Cider House
Photo By: Tilted Shed Ciderworks
Photo By: Bloomberg / Contributor
Photo By: Bad Seed Cider Company
Photo By: Republic MPLS
Washington is a prime apple-growing region, with more than 50 cider makers in the state, and a growing number of places in which to taste them. Seattle Cider Company was the first cider maker to open in the city in 2013, and produces small batch, locally grown ciders. It currently offers 12 options, ranging from the year-round Citrus, to the seasonal Basil Mint, to the limited-edition Three Pepper. Sample these and more at The Woods, a tasting room that’s shared with Two Beers Brewing.
Not to be outdone, Capitol Cider, the city’s first cider bar, boasts 20 ciders on tap and more than 150 bottles from both the region and the world. Schilling Hard Cider does one better, claiming to offer the largest draft cider selection in the country with 32 ciders on tap. It also sells more than 300 bottles of craft cider. Schilling makes its own cider too; its high-demand Chaider (chai-spiced hard cider) is only on tap between November and January. If that’s not enough, cider-making classes are available one weekend a month.
Lake Champlain, Vermont
Vermont can be considered as the birthplace of the hard cider revival movement in the U.S. when Woodchuck Hard Cider launched in 1991. Eventually, more followed, and the Lake Champlain region has proven to be one of the best apple-growing spots in the country. Citizen Cider, based in Burlington, has a tasting room and the option to sample a tasting flight; the Dirty Mayor is a good option for ginger fans. Shacksbury Cider distinguishes itself by using “lost apples” from the Champlain Valley, which are defined as the type of apples that early settlers in the area used to make homemade hard cider. Be warned Shacksbury only makes limited-release runs with lost apples, and they are popular. Tours are by appointment only.
Champlain Orchards Cidery uses apples from its own orchard, and many of its ciders—Ginger & Spice, Honeycrisp—have won awards. You can stop by for a tour and tasting, or try Champlain and other area cideries during Vermont Cider Week.
Finger Lakes, New York
The Finger Lakes region is another key player in the apple belt. Bellwether Hard Cider was the first on the scene in 1999, while Finger Lakes Cider House is considered the reason behind the renewed interest in hard cider. Besides offering local craft ciders in its full-service tasting room, it also serves its own Good Life Cider. Among the local cideries it serves, Eve’s Cidery is acclaimed for its sparkling ciders, which employ the Champagne Method. Eve’s also has its own orchard, and produces ice cider as well. Redbyrd Orchard Cider is also available at Finger Lakes Cider House, and the owners apply their wine-making knowledge to produce small batches. To try more cideries, attend Cider Week Finger Lakes, which attracts about 15 local cider makers.
Where there’s good beer, good cider is sure to follow. Bushwacker Cider was the first cidery to open in Portland in 2010, and now has two locations in the city. The original Brooklyn spot sells more than 300 types of cider from around the world, as well as its own line. Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider deserves its cider renegade reputation thanks to its boundary-pushing ciders: the flagship Hallelujah Hopricot can best be described as a combination of beer, cider and wine. See for yourself at its cidery and taproom.
A few hours away in Bend, a number of craft cideries have set up camp among a plethora of established breweries. Atlas Cider Co. was the first and one of the best known; its flavor comes from the fresh-pressed apples used to make an all-natural product. Its new taproom hosts live music and offers arcade games. To cover the most cider ground, the Cider Rite of Spring festival in Portland features the best ciders in the Northwest, while Cider Summit PDX highlights the best artisanal ciders from around the world.
Asheville, North Carolina
Asheville already has a booming craft beer scene, and now cideries are starting to move in. Urban Orchard Cider Co. usually tops the list when discussing North Carolina cidery makers. It’s known for experimenting with unexpected flavors such as habanero, and its full bar showcases cider while also offering wine and local beer. Noble Cider uses local apples to create two ciders: The Standard Bearer and The Village Tart, a popular, cherry-minded cider. Bide your time in the taproom while enjoying live music and access to a rotating lineup of food trucks.
Black Mountain Ciderworks + Meadery is among the handful of cideries along the Asheville Ale Trail. Stop by the taproom of this small-batch cidery (and meadery) to imbibe ciders made with Southern apples. Asheville also plays host to CiderFest NC, which features 20 hard cider makers from across the state and country.
Boston Beer Company, the heavyweight producer behind Samuel Adams (which helped launch the craft beer movement in the states), also produces Angry Orchard Hard Cider. Varieties range from its signature Green Apple to the seasonal Elderflower, and it sources apples from its own orchard in the Hudson Valley. Downeast Cider House uses locally grown apples to create its year-round Cranberry Blend and seasonal Maple Blend. You can tour its cidery without advance booking, but be forewarned that drinking is restricted to its cider garden, which isn’t climate controlled. Bantam Cider is a craft cidery just outside of Boston in Somerville. The classic Wunderkind is its first cider, and since then Bantam has experimented with slow roasting apples to create the unconventional Smoked Saison.
A fledgling cider scene has emerged amidst Sonoma’s wine dominated landscape. Sonoma Cider is a father-son operation redefining hard cider. It uses organic apples to create core offerings such as The Anvil, a bourbon cider. Keep an eye out for experimental limited runs, which currently include Absinthe and Habanero Lime. Tilted Shed Ciderworks also uses local organic apples in its small batch creations. Visit the tasting room for barrel-aged and barbecue-smoked ciders. Devoto Orchards Cider uses apples from its own orchard in Sebastopol, a longtime apple-growing region, to make three different organic ciders. It’s closed to the public, but you can find its dry and semi-dry ciders at specialty stores in the area.
Argus Cidery was the first to open in 2010; in a bit of an unusual twist, it uses apples from Texas and Arkansas to produce its sparkling hard ciders. Though not a cider, don’t pass up the chance to try its Tepache, a sparkling pineapple wine, at its tasting room. Newish Texas Keeper Cider has garnered press for its small batch ciders; you’ll be able to sample them soon at its new tap room, complete with a picnic area. Austin Eastciders is another young, small-batch cidery that differentiates itself by employing bittersweet and bittersharp apples in order to create just three options: Original Dry Cider, Texas Honey Cider and the recently added Hopped Cider. It plans to offer factory tours and a tasting room in the near future.
Hudson Valley, New York
The Hudson Valley has a long-standing reputation as one of the best apple growing regions in the country, and is home to some of the country’s oldest cider makers. The now sizable cider community started in 1994 with Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery when it launched Doc’s Draft Ciders. Sample both its cider and wine at its rustic tasting room while enjoying live music. Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider is another long-time establishment, and specializes in European techniques.
Newcomer Nine Pin Cider Works creates dry and experimental ciders using locally sourced apples, and offers a tasting room. Bad Seed Cider Company is another relative newcomer. You can tour its factory in addition to exploring dry ciders in its tap room. If possible, detour to NYC for Wassail, the city’s first bar devoted to hard cider (and apple-related drinks). It also holds regular events such as monthly meetups for amateur cider makers. Descendant Cider Company, based in Queens, is one of the only hard cider makers in the city, and its apples are sourced from no other than the Hudson Valley.
Cider is slowly starting to make inroads amidst a craft beer boom. Sociable Cider Werks is the city’s first cidery, and its industrial tasting room has quickly attracted a loyal following. It sources apples from the Midwest, and adds hops and grains for a dry and well-balanced finish. All of its ciders are named after bike terms, like the dry-hopped Hop-A-Wheelie. You can also tour its cider house and enjoy eats from The Curious Goat Food Truck. Newcomer Lionheart Cider just opened this past summer and only makes one European-style cider at the moment; you can find it at the Muddy Pig in St. Paul. Meanwhile, gastropub Republic MPLS offers the largest selection of craft ciders around, and provides an excellent opportunity to try local ciders from across the state, including Sweetland Orchard, Milk & Honey Ciders, Wyndfall Cyder and Sapsucker Farms.