Hard Cider Round-Up
The market for artisan hard cider is exploding in our backyard. Hit an orchard and try some.
Photo courtesy of Pennings Cidery
Much like what’s happened with craft beer over the past few years, the Hudson Valley is fast becoming a world-class destination for hard cider. Sixteen of New York’s 66 cideries are here, according to the New York State Liquor Authority, not counting wineries and breweries that also produce craft cider. That’s plenty of opportunity for a road trip.
In a rustic tasting room in the middle of Stone Ridge Orchard, you’ll find Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider’s award-winning, dry, European-style cider. The key is “careful blending, appropriate varieties, and maturation,” says founder Elizabeth Ryan, a cider-making pioneer who studied pomology at Cornell and cider making in England before launching the cidery in 1997. (She’s also a founder of the Union Square Greenmarket.) Sample six of her ciders, like The Last Blacksmith or God Speed the Plough, and pick up a bottle aged in Hillrock Estate bourbon barrels to take home.
Wayside Cider in Andes grafts from foraged and abandoned apple trees to produce cider that “represents the western Catskills [and] what modern American cider can be, while respecting the past,” explains co-owner Alex Wilson. Try Wild Select, produced in the méthode Champenoise, or an experimental cider flavored with wild sumac. Restored barns host the taproom and a hyper-local culinary program. Also look out for events, including the Sunday hiking club, grafting workshops, and an amateur cider-making contest.
Twelve creative ciders are on tap at Warwick’s Pennings Farm Cidery, including the hot-pink ginger-beet and Home Tree, which is “softer, smoother on the palate than [our] similar Bone Dry,” says cider-maker SJ Pennings. In the colder months, don’t miss Speculaas cider, a nod to the family’s heritage, flavored with Dutch-cookie spices. The cidery is 21-plus, so if you’ve got the kids, grab some at the onsite beer garden or a growler to go.