Fall in New England is all about the apple, and now more than ever, that includes enjoying a crisp and refreshing hard cider. New England cider leaders like West County Cider, Flag Hill, and Farnum Hill have been around for years and have earned well-deserved followings, but there’s been so many wonderful new ciders coming to market in recent years that you may find it harder than ever to choose from the many new delicious, inexpensive, and local offerings.
Yankee senior lifestyle editor (and self-proclaimed “apple nerd”) Amy Traverso has been tasting as many new ciders and apple wines as she can, and to help get you started, she’s sharing some of her favorites below. It’s just a small sampling of what’s out there, so we hope you’ll share any of your favorite ciders (new or old) in the comments section.
Bantam Cider, Cambridge, MA – Talk about new: Bantam launched in January 2012. Cidermakers Dana Masterpolo and Michelle da Silva have two ciders today, but it all started with Wunderkind, a cider made with a mix of Cortland, McIntosh, Empire, and green apples. It’s bright and crisp, with vivid fruit that makes it accessible to first-time cider drinkers, but nothing like the super-sweet 6-pack ciders made from concentrate. bantamcider.com
Carr’s Ciderhouse, North Hadley, MA – Jonathan Carr’s cidery has been eight years in the making, but it is also new to market. He produces three ciders: a dry sparkler with wonderful acidity and vivid fruit, an sweet apple pommeau made with a blend of cider and brandy, and a fruit-infused sparkling cider that blends local fruit in season with dry cider. carrsciderhouse.com
Downeast Cider, Boston, MA – Originally from Waterville, Maine, Downeast has seen such growth in demand for its brew that it recently relocated to Boston and a larger facility. This is imminently friendly cider, sweet and sparkling and sold in bright blue and red cans, made from a secret blend of fresh-pressed Red Delicious, McIntosh, Cortland, and Gala apples. downeastcider.com
Eden Ice Cider, West Charleston, VT – Albert and Eleanor Leger started their cidery in the winter of 2007, and they now produce several gorgeous ice wines and an aperitif called Orleans. They use about 8 pounds of apples to make every 375ml bottle, including wonderful heirlooms like Calville Blanc, Esopus Spitzenberg, and Ashmead’s Kernel. edenicecider.com
Pup’s Cider Company, Greenfield, NH – Rich Stadnik produces two ciders using apples from southern New Hampshire. I’m a big fan of the Monadnock Harvest blend, which is wonderfully dry, with vibrant acidity and a pleasant effervescence. pupscider.com
Still River Winery, Harvard, MA – On a 2007 trip to Quebec, Wade and Margot Holtzman had their first taste of traditional apple ice wine, made with fresh cider concentrated by repeated freezing and thawing cycles. Inspired, they decided to try their hand at making wine in the same style, and soon began winning awards for their richly flavored, nectar-like product. Their sparkling ice wine is also wonderful. stillriverwinery.com
If you love cider, you may also want to check out Cider Days, a fantastic two-day festival in Western Massachusetts celebrating of apples and hard cider. Held on the first weekend in November, Cider Days packs in cider-making classes, apple tastings, pancake breakfasts, dinners, cider samplers, cooking lessons, and family activities at locations all over Franklin County. Mark your calendar for next year!