My First Scrumpy
For most people, the mention of cider conjures up images of the fresh sweet unfermented juice you purchase at the local orchards in the fall. It was that way for me as well until I discovered Scrumpy on my first trip to England twelve years ago.
On a day trip to Cheddar Gorge, I found this intriguing crock of hard cider. I fought the urge to open it right then and there and brought it back home to share with my peeps. Prior to this, the closest I had come to drinking authentic hard cider was the Hornsby and Woodchuck alcopops I found near the beer section in my local liquor store. So Scrumpy was quite a shock. I really enjoyed it but had nothing to really compare it to.
Back in the States, I never came across anything equivalent to the authentic cider I had in the UK, and to be honest, I didn’t look very hard. It wasn’t until recently I started paying attention to American Hard Cider.
I have sampled thousands of craft beers but now I have the chance to be a part of this exciting revolution and am pumped up about it.
Even with a 27% growth in one year, hard cider has a long way to go. Just like the early days of the craft beer revolution, there will be some unavoidable obstacles. Cider folks will certainly have to educate the public on not only what craft hard cider is, but how it is made, the history and how to serve it. This only makes it that much more exciting. I am all about the new.
Here are five fun ways to learn about Hard Cider
1. Get Your Cider On For An Entire Week
Portland Oregon celebrated their second Craft Cider Week this past June, and in the coming months, Washington, Virginia and New York will be offering week-long cider events as well. Local restaurants will offer tastings as well as cider dinners. Expect cider festivals, live music and a chance to meet the local cider master.
2. Meet The Cider Folks
Cider advocate Dave White has done an amazing job promoting Hard Cider. His site OldTimecider.com has a virtual map where you can find cideries from all over U.S. and Canada.
Two Cideries I plan to visit are:
Snowdrift Cider Co, located in East Wanatchee, WA, in the Wenatchee Valley above the Columbia River. The orchard is nestled below vast basalt cliffs and views of the Cascade Range. Snowdrift Cider has been producing artisanal hard cider since 2009.
Be sure to call ahead for an appointment. Snowdrift offers four varieties of Cider and one Perry.
Foggy Ridge Cider in Dugspur, VA. On their Web Site, there is a warning that they are an intimately run business so you may find a walkie-talkie on the Cider House door with instructions to call them in from the orchard. This is as real as it gets!
On Halloween, stop by for some spooks, and apple treats for kiddies and adults, and of course delicious hard cider. Visit their website for more information. Foggy Ridge offers four ciders and two desert ciders to choose from.
3. Hit The Book
By Ben Watson
By: Annie Proulx
By: Vrest Orton
4. Hop Up To The Bar
I spent more time than I should have, searching for cider bars on line. While I found only a handful of bars and restaurants offering a decent selection of craft ciders, I expect more to come.
Bushwacker Cider from Portland, Oregon. Jeff Smith, owner and brewer, and his wife Erin, opened the bar in 2010. The bar has seven rotating cider taps and the coolers are stocked with a hundred or so bottles from Spain, France, England and the Northwest, there’s also 150 gallons of cider fermenting in the back.
Capitol Cider, the future Seattle 20-tap bar and bottle shop is expected to open early 2013. Two friends, Spencer Reilly and Jordan Sinclair, are the masterminds behind the venture. In addition to the 20 or so cider taps, there will be a bottle list of more than 100 varieties .
The Queens Kickshaw of Astoria, led by Ben Sandler and his wife Jennifer, serves specialty coffees, teas, pastries, fancy grilled cheese sandwiches, craft ales, and ciders.
They may only have one or two ciders on draft but they have an awesome bottle list of about 20 American, French, Spanish and English ciders.
5. Host A Cider Tasting At Home
To be honest, the best way to learn about cider is to just buy a few bottles and try them out yourself. This is how I learned about the ever-expanding styles of beer. Invite a handful of friends and have each guest bring a bottle. Set up an artisanal tray of cheeses and taste a variety of craft ciders. Don’t worry about which ones to get at first. Just grab a bottle and share.
What are your experiences with Hard Cider? Are you new to cider tasting? What are your favorites? Please share and follow me on Facebook and Twitter.