Social Links




Entries in Hard Apple Cider (3)


16th Annual Franklin County Cider Days 2010 ~ Part 1 of 3.

A couple weeks back it was my pleasure and honor to be able to travel back east to Western Massachusetts and attend Franklin County CiderDays. This is part 1 of a 2 part recap chronicaling my experience. For those that don't know, Franklin County CiderDays has got to be the premier cider event in all of North America. I was able to go to CiderDays thanks to a generous invite and offer from Tieton Cider Works. They offered to help me get there and in doing so becoming the very first Old Time Cider Travel Sponsor. Appreciation and graditude to Sharon, Craig, and crew at Tieton.


Friday November 4th 2010, the day before CiderDays...

I flew out of SeaTac airport late Thursday night only to arrive very early Friday morning in Boston. I took the Red-Line into Boston where I was able to find some excellent espresso and explore for a short while before eventually meeting up with friends Sharon and Craig Campbell owners of Tieton Cider Works to make our 2.5 hour drive to Western Massachusetts. During my trip I heard multiple times that we were a couple weeks too late for the full congregation of Autumn splendor which might have been the case but I found the area was still alive with the ripe colors and smells of Fall.


Although no official CiderDays events are scheduled we left Boston en-route for Greenfield MA that Friday early to meet with some of the country's leading cidermakers for what could be called a sort-of "state of cider" gathering. Each major cider producing area was represented more or less in what was from my perspective a collegial discussion revolving around basic cidermaker concerns. Category development, marketing/labeling hurdles, and Federal legislation issues were all discussed at great length.


Farnum Hill Cider's Steve Wood sharing his toughts.

Judith Maloney of West County Cider Sharon Campbell, Tieton Cider Works


Attending the meeting was educational and obviously thought provoking. The general sentiment seemed to be that cider has certainly come a long way in recent years but to develop as an official category of our own we have quite a but further to go. I got to meet lots of great folks from all over. Represented at the meeting was Wandering Aengus Cider Works, Tieton Cider Works, Foggy Ridge Cider, Uncle John's Fruithouse Winery, Black Star Farms, Eden Ice Cider, Tandem Ciders, Tideview Cider, Bellewether Cider and… Farnum Hill Cider. Ben Watson organizer of CiderDays.

Mike Beck from Uncle John's Fruit House Winery in Michigan


James Kohn of Wandering Aengus Ciderworks

Cidermakers at Hope & OliveAfter the meeting we adjourned to meet at a local restaurant  Hope & Olive for some eats and cider tasting. Soon after sitting down I had to leave to meet up with my buddy Al Yelvington who I was roommates with for the weekend. It was probably a fortunate time to take off. I know I would have had a blast but was dead tired and wouldn't have been 100% for the bug day on Saturday had I stuck around longer.


Saturday November 5th 2010, CiderDay

I was told that CiderDays used to be CiderDay. However with an expanded schedule there are now over 30+ events held on both Saturday and Sunday. All events occur in and around a handful of towns in Northwestern Massachusetts. Greenfield, Old Deerfield, Shelburne Falls, and Ashfield.


Apple Pancake Breakfast in Greenfield MA

CiderDays events list is varied from the family-friendly like Apple Pancake Breakfasts, Orchard Rides, Cider Press Demos, Apples for Baking, Identifying and Conserving Heritage Apples and even a Wassail-Orchard walk with none other than Michael Phillips author of The Apple Grower. To the right is Michael Phillips on the Cider Salon floor tasting ciders and talking apples.

Folks with cider of the fermented variety on their mind had plenty of tough choices to make. There are more cider related events scheduled than one could possibly hope to attend. Intro to Cider Making, Blending Apples for Cider, Making Barrel Cider, Home Cidermaker Tasting, Ice Cider Tasting, Apple Brandy, Pear Brandy Calvados and Scrumpy. Let's not forget the Cider Salon and CiderDays Harvest Supper in the evening. Cider tastings of all sorts all throughout the day. Cider tasting even at events you may not expect cider tasting to be at.

Shelburne Buckland Community CenterAs expected selecting from the overwhelming number of cider and apple events was a real chore. I stayed the course and attended events closely related to cider and cidermaking. As it turned out the cool white building in the picture above is the Sherburne Buckland Community Center where all my daytime events occurred. They had craft sales inside the community center in one room, the workshops and discussion took place in the main auditorium. Just outside the front doors you would find rare and heirloom variety apples sales courtesy of Scott Farm Heirloom Apples as well as an apple wood smoked bbq stand.


Lots of interesting varieties of old apples from Scott Farm Heirloom Apples To see more click on the image and check out the event set.

Blending Apples for Cider with Claude Jolicoeur

Claude Jolicoeur Pouring Claude Jolicoeur's cider samples

My first official event for CiderDays was one that I was really looking forward to. Blending Apples for Cider with Claude Jolicoeur. Claude's presentation covered the key elements of blending ciders. He highlighted the importance of accurate note taking and the recording measurements such as brix, pH, acidity and even tannin early on in his talk. Claude also discussed was the important balance of sugar, acid, and nitrogen for healthy fermentation and also how acids and tannin (soft and hard) influence cider flavor. Claude showed how to map out and plan a blend, which types or flavors of apples to look for, how ripe, sugar content, tannins, and so on. It was a really great presentation and although I certainly didn't expect it we got our day's first taste of cider early. Claude brought some of his own cider to pour, a really nice example of a French style cider from his home in Quebec.


Pouring Claude Jolicoeur's cider samples

Cider sample from Claude Jolicoeur


Home Cidermaker's Tasting

Home Cidermakers Tastings

Man did this discussion and tasting pack 'em in… Possibly the promise of several free samples of cider. It was led panel of 4 well seasoned, experienced home cidermakers who led a discussion on small scale cidermaking at home. I think some of the panelists pressed their own apples but there was a lot of discussion about custom cider pressings done by local cider presses like Pine Hill Orchards. Pine Hill Orchards appeared to be regionally known for pressing specialty batches for the cider hobbyist blended with fermenting in mind.


Selection of home cidermaker ciders

There was lots of discussion about making "New England" style ciders, and adding fruit to ciders and such. Fresh fruit, frozen fruit, boiled fruit even dehydrated fruit. A gathering like this wouldn't be complete without the eternal topic of which yeasts to use. Are beer yeasts okay? What about natural yeasts? The cider samples were pretty interesting, some good… One stand out in flavor and strength was a cider concoction heavily fortified with Laird's Applejack.

Check back for Part 2. Conversation and Cider Tasting with Leading Cidermakers.



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.


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...

Apple Crazy in Olympia.

1884 Apple Orchard, Washington

Fall has always been my favorite time of the year. The temperature, the weather, the colors, the sounds, the smells. It all works for me.

The past two years have left me Apple crazy during Autumn. This condition is exacerbated now that I own an apple press. I've been out hustling them apples and harassing my friends or anyone else I can think of for my share of the apples and/or pears that lay waste in backyards all across the Olympia/Tumwater/Lacey area. Lots of looking and lots of asking (well 1 note and 2 classifieds) but no finding... Until just this last week, it was all beginning to feel a little bleak.

Until I received an email last week from a guy Steve I met at the Darrington Bluegrass Festival in 2006 . Steve lives on Whidbey Island in or near a town named Coupeville. As we got to talking last year it was revealed to me that Steve has 2 or 3 Vintage Cider Apple varieties growing on his property. I don't recall them all by name but I do remember he's got a Kingston Black however. Well anyway Steve emailed to offer me 40-50 lbs of his cider apples. Although not enough press and ferment an entire batch, that amount of apples is more than adequate to supplement a good solid base of local Olympia neighborhood apple blend.

Besides all of that I got a phone call last night about some apples I was inquiring about on the Eastside of Olympia. My buddy Kaplan had lived in this house last year and Michael Elvin (of Batdorf & Bronson) and myself were able to take as many as we needed. We took more than we could press as it turned out but the cider that resulted from our pressings was really pretty good. Very tart but very nice. Tart and nice being WAY better than sweet and syrupy any day.

I've also had my eyes on a couple trees that are in a yard adjacent to my buddy Chris' backyard which may work out too.

If you live anywhere near the Olympia and know folks with apples or pears drop me a line. I'm not against rewarding donors or finders with some finished product... Sweet or fermented.

P.S. I promise part one of my Hard Cider Tutorials are coming. I've been too busy visiting great places and scamming apples to be inspired by the computer.

Now playing:
Reeltime Travelers - Paddy Won't You Drink Some Cider
via FoxyTunes