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Entries in Cider Makers (Artisan & Traditional) (10)


16th Annual Franklin County Cider Days 2010 ~ Part 2 of 3.

Back to it.. Franklin County Cider Days Part 2 of 3.


The Conversation and Tasting with Leading Cidermakers.

The panel, I believe chosen by author Ben Watson was a classic set of cidermaking characters. There are other fine examples, but no doubt we had a terrific cross-section today's best cidermakers speaking. Cidermaking experience, all of them passionate about the craft, all positive role models and leaders in the North American cider community...  This might have been the best event of the day. Great cider tasting and great cider talk are two of my favorite things.


The Panel.

Who was on this esteemed panel of leading cidermakers?

As pictured above, from left to right: Judith Maloney - West County Cider, Steve Wood - Farnum Hill Cider, Diane Flynt - Foggy Ridge Cider, Nick Gunn - Wandering Aengus, Mike Beck - Uncle John's Fruit House Winery.


The Cider Tasting.

For the tasting portion(s) of the event each maker brought one choice selection from their offerings to pour. Ciders were presented one at a time. Each cidermaker talked a little bit about their selection, how they made it, varieties, blends and such. All followed by brief discussion from the panel. The ciders and each tasting also worked as a sort of improv topic and catalyst for further discussion on topics such as cider style and cidermaking theory. Cool stuff.


West County Cider Pippin James Kohn with Wandering Aengus Wickson Cider


Wondering which ciders were brought? I know I was curious.

  1. West County Pippin Cider
  2. Farnum Hill's Extra Dry Still
  3. Foggy Ridge's First Fruit Cider
  4. Wandering Aengus Wickson Single Varietal
  5. Uncle John's Fruit House Winery's Seasonal Baldwin Single Varietal


If you don't like big acid this wasn't your afternoon. In fact at one point Steve Wood, himself accused of giving Farnum Hill a sharp cutting acidity, hilariously exclaims "These ciders are ALL more acidic than mine!" And that might have been... Cider on the sharp side is my preference so I was right at home.


Each and every one of the ciders was great. Tops in fact. Collectively I recall that each was on the dry side, well balanced, high in acidity, complex, good tannin. All the major earmarks of a great cider. Individually each presented it's own unique character and flavor profile. I'd buy and drink up each one anytime. No problems.  If you have the chance to buy any of these selections don't hesitate to pick them up.


The Single Variety Ciders.

It was a real treat and a little unexpected to get the opportunity to taste two single varietal ciders in a sitting. It is rare and I know it isn't easy, but I like the idea that one apple can do it all. These two cider were both really great examples of what single variety ciders can be.


Uncle John's Baldwin Cider is in it's first ever bottling year and I have to say this cider really blew me away. The Baldwin apple turned out a shockingly well balanced single varietal cider. Sharp and I remember it having more tannin than you might expect from a popular heirloom variety. Really great cider. That cider might be my new favorite in the Uncle John's stable.


I've had the Wandering Aengus's Wickson a few times over the year and let me say I really do love this cider. It never ceases to amaze me. Pure joy. Cider nectar. Sweet-tart citrus aroma, smooth well-rounded flavor and a big body. Spicy. Sharp but not too sharp. Maybe too sharp for some. No one I know... I think one of the cool things about this cider is that the Salem Oregon based Wandering Aengus is using the West coast developed Wickson variety to craft what is a genuine West coast cider.


Diane Flynt and Nick Gunn. I don't recall what Nick was saying here but I'm pretty sure by the look on his face it was some rebutal aimed at Steve

The Discussion.

It was obvious that all the cidermakers were familiar friends and respected colleagues. They maintained a great chemistry, if they didn't all genuinely like each other they sure had me fooled.

Topics ran the spectrum. Everything one would expect or want to hear. Apples, orcharding, terrior. Some discussed their cidermaking process and shared theory. As there should be there was often varying and opposing opinions. To adjunct or not to adjunct, fermentation temperatures, using barrels, fermenting in barrels, blending at the press, blending after fermenting, nutrients, DAP, racking, aerating, filtering vs. unfiltered, carbonation forced or carbonation natural, pasteurizing good/pasteurizing bad. They seem to cover just about everything. When you consider the quality of all the ciders... All the answer you need was in the glass. There is no arguing that they all seemed to be doing something right.


West County Cider's Judith Maloney and Steve Wood from Farnum Hill Cider.That afternoon Judith Maloney shared the details of how longtime friend Steve Wood drove to West County Cider from New Hampshire each and every day after her husband Terry was tragically taken in an accident. Together Steve and Judith figured out what to do with the season's cider. She was ever so grateful and regardless of how embarassed Steve seemed, she was a woman determined to share the story. I thought was very touching and a terrific example of the great folks and unusual sense of community cidermakers seem too. I haven't had West County too often but Judith's Pippen Cider was easily on par with all the cider served that day. I can't wait to try it again.

Judith and Terry were one of the first to give cidermaking in America a serious try. They started CiderDays 16 years ago together as a way to celebrate and help bring to a close the end of the apple growing and cider pressing season. And they really did start something. CiderDays was by far the best cider event I've had the opportunity to attend. This year CiderDays and specifically the upcoming Harvest Dinner was in rememberance of Terry.

I can't say I knew Terry, but I wish I had. We did exchange a couple emails while I was searching for a place that shipped West County to Washington. Had I not gotten my hands on some he had offered to send it himself. He was passionate about cider and wanted to see it succeed. I've heard and read more than a few stories of Judith and Terry's generosity and cooperation helping the early craft cidermakers around the country. Thanks to Terry and Judith Maloney for giving all us cider drinkers and cidermakers so much.


Next up, thoughts on Cider Salon and the Harvest Dinner which will conclude the 2010 CiderDays posts.



Once again I'd like to mention that this weekend wouldn't have happened and was all made possible for me by the kind folks at Tieton Cider Works who offered to take me along and by doing so becoming my first ever "Cider Event Travel Sponsor". Super special thanks to Sharon, Craig, Cindy, Fred, and Marcus for their support. Their award winning ciders are becoming easier and easier to find every day.


Fifth Annual Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition ~ The Pro-Am Event for Apple and Pear Fermentations

The following information passed along to me about the Fifth Annual Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition. This is the only North American competition with an emphasis on cider and perry only. Even the beer, mead and distillation entries are required to be derived from apple or pear. Nice!



The Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association is pleased to announce its call for entries for the Fifth Annual Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition.  This Pro-Am competition has divisions for both commercial and noncommercial producers and is open to ciders, perries, meads, beers, and commercial distillates, provided they are made with apples or pears.  There are nineteen categories of entry.  For traditionalists this competition includes a category for Standard Cider & Perry (with five subcategories). The Standard category has requirements that the entry be produced from a minimum of 85% juice, not include both sugar and water (or sugar syrup and water) in the list of ingredients, and not have added flavor.  The Association reserves the unrestricted right to submit commercial entries in this category to testing to verify conformity to requirements.

Judging for the competition will take place at the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Saturday, December 12 , 2009.   Entries must be received at the drop-off/ship-to location between Monday, November 23, 2009 and Tuesday, December 8, 2009.

Most entry categories included in this competition conform to BJCP style guideline categories:


20. Fruit Beer. Restricted to beers made with either apples or pears only.
23. Specialty Beer. Restricted to beers made with either apples or pears only, but may include other  ingredients.


25A. Cyser (Apple Melomel). Apple Juice and honey-no other ingredients.
25C. Other Fruit Melomel. (Pear) Pear Juice or blend with pear juice and no
other ingredients.
26C. Open Category Mead (must contain apple or pear)

Standard Cider & Perry

27A. Common Cider
27B. English Cider
27C. French Cider
27D. Common Perry
27E. Traditional Perry

Specialty Cider & Perry

28A. New England Cider

28B. Fruit Cider
28C. Applewine
28D. Other Specialty Cider/Perry

Some additional categories in this competition are not recognized by the BJCP:

2006-1 Macro Cider or Perry (see full details of how this is defined in the entry packet)

2006-2 Intensified Cider or Perry

A.    Prefermentation (Ice Cider) (Open to commercial and noncommercial

B.      Postfermentation (Pommeau) (Open to commerical division only)

2006-3 Distilled (Open to commercial division only)
A. Eau de vie
B. Brandy (Oak Aged)

In accordance with this competition’s custom, and in keeping with the Association’s mission to promote and educate, there will also be a training seminar for judges the evening before the judging.  This is free to competition staff, including judges and stewards. Any remaining space available will be offered first come first reserved for a nominal fee of $15.00 to anyone else wishing to participate and benefit from this opportunity.  The number of extra spots has been increased slightly this year but it is best to notify Rex Halfpenny as soon as possible if you’re interested.  The seminar will take place in the Pearl Room on the second floor of the Amway Grand Plaza Hotel in Grand Rapids, Michigan, on Friday, December 11 from 7PM until 9PM Eastern Time.

If you would like to participate in the judging, you must contact competition organizer Rex Halfpenny ( and provide the following information.

- -Name and contact information

- -Commercial producer affiliation if any

- -Judging experience; novice, experienced, advanced, BJCP rank (if
applicable).  (It is customary to pair less experienced judges with more experienced judges).

- -Style categories that you are best qualified to judge

- -Style categories entered (this is used to ensure that judges will not evaluate their own products)

Each entry must include an entry form attached to the bottle with a rubber band and the appropriate entry free. Noncommerical entries are $10 for the first entry, $7 for the second, and $5 for each subsequent entry.  Commercial entries are $50 per entry ($35 for members of the Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association).  To encourage international participation the entry fee will be waived again this year for entries produced and shipped from outside North America.  Entrants are still responsible for paying their own shipping and duty costs.

Each entry must include a minimum of 24 ounces (or 750ml, i.e. two 12- ounce bottles). It is suggested that at least two containers are entered (regardless of size). This gives the judges the opportunity to sample your entry from a fresh bottle should it be elevated to the second round Best of Show (BOS) judging. The second bottle may also be used by first round judges should they perceive a problem with the contents of the first bottle.

To aid in maintaining fairness of blind judging commercial entries will be poured out of sight of judges and identified by a randomly assigned identification number. Noncommercial entries will be poured at judging tables and must be sent in bottles free of permanent labels or markings.

For the full entry packet please email the Association’s competition chair Rex Halfpenny ( ,  lead registrar Jeff Carlson (, or find it online at

My Own 2 Day Cider Adventure

I'll be micro blogging my own small 2 day cider adventure up to Westcott Bay Orchards on beautiful San Juan Island over on Twitter and the Facebook group. Check the links below to follow. Questions and comments welcome.

Cider on Ice? Not on my watch...

nociderandiceJust a quick post and a link to pub etiquette via the
"Cider drinking happens in big cities but with ice. Asking for ice with your cider in a cider-making area will be met with suspicion bordering on violence. Alcopops are the closest things to anti-freeze you can order in a pub and have much the same function."

Pub etiquette is something more Americans should embrace. They only briefly touch on cider but the sentiment is one we all should take to heart too. DO NOT ICE YOUR CRAFT CIDERS. Remember you are drinking someone's pride and joy, their art and craft. Would you start dropping ice cubes into your wine glasses in Napa? No. Respect it please no matter what country or region you are in. I liken adding ice to your cider to adding salt, pepper, soy sauce, etcetera in a really great restaurant. Just don't.

We have a newer "cider" manufacturer here in North America mimikcing, and riding the coat tails of Magner's cider on ice campaign. I won't give them the satisfaction of posting their name in this blog. However f you see anything like this and you appreciate craft make a jusdgement call please avoid these "six pack" products they are giving our good ciders a bad name.

On the home front. Life has been pretty busy with my own cider blending, bottling. I've also been trying desperately to prevent the dreaded film yeast in this warming weather with my inadequate equipment and storage.

I've got a couple great ciders to taste and review in the near future. A "Summer Cider" from a top of the list favorite of mine, Farnum Hill Ciders in New Hampshire. I also received a great cider from Sutliff Cider in Iowa of all places. Iowa is a new State for my cider map. 10 or so down 40 or so to go.

Stay tuned...

More NW Cider Press and Cider Events at Harvest Time

Well it is that time of year again. The harvest season where you'll find all of us involved in apples (or trying to be) running like mad. Picking, milling, pressing, sanitizing, storing, testing, adding nutrients, racking, worrying. I don't have my own trees or an orchard yet but I've been beyond busy "hustling" and collecting early season apples and pressing them since about a month or more ago, and I don't see any signs of it letting up. I'm actually starting to panic about my cider storage situation. I'll probably end up a little shy of the legal home-brewing limit for the year. Good thing I haven't done any cider making since pressing last year. I have the room I think, but what I don't have is ample proper storage. But I'm working on it and welcome any and all inexpensive or reasonably priced solutions or suggestions. At least I'll be able to justify having a full size oak barrel or two.

Red Barn Ciders award winning cider Burro Loco Red Barn Cider's award winning cider "Burro Loco"

More Cider Press... The Red Barn Edition.
The Seattle Times has really been doing a great job covering the traditional and craft cider revolution happening here in the NW. They might just be trying to "predict" the next craft beverage dos to them for understanding what it is all about. I do my best with Google News Alerts to keep on top of cider news Worldwide but somehow I missed a great article featuring Drew Zimmerman at Red Barn Cider up in Mount Vernon.

Check out the Seattle Time's newest cider article "Northwest artisans are crafting a renaissance in handmade hard ciders" here.

Drew was a mainstay at Cider School last June. He is an all around really great guy, a very knowledgeable cider maker not to mention lots of fun to talk apples and cider with. It was an honor and a privilege to have him participate in WSU's Cider School. Red Barn's Cider has become one of my favorites over the past couple years and it keeps getting better. Thanks again to both Drew and the kind folks Red Barn!

Irvines Vintage Blend Cider - Vashon Winery - Vashon Island, Washington Irvines Vintage Blend Cider - Vashon Winery - Vashon Island, Washington

Vashon Cider Fest.
I've anxiously been awaiting Vashon Cider Fest coming up this weekend at home here in Washington State. Heather and I take off from tomorrow at around 8 AM to catch a ferry at around 9 AM to attend the whole event.

They've got a great line up of cider related activities planned.

  • Juice pressing and apple identification with the Vashon Fruit Club from 10 AM to 3 PM.

  • A cider making seminar with Dr. Bob Norton, Ron Irvine (Vashon Winery and Irivine's Vintage Cider) and Drew Zimmerman (Tulip Valley Winery and Red Barn Cider) from 1 to 2 PM.

  • Cider tasting showing 8 different cideries and up to 15 ciders from 3 to 6 PM.

  • All followed up by a 4 course cider dinner at Vashon's The Hardware Store Restaurant that will match ciders to each course at 6:30 PM sponsored by Vashon Island Rotary and the NW Cider Society.

Heather and I just recently signed up and paid dues with the NW Cider Society and this will be our first NW Cider Society event. Needless to say we are both pretty excited about the whole day's events, and Heather is especially excited about the dinner.

Anyway I'm hoping for some great note and picture taking so I can blog the event when I get home... Stay Tuned.