New York's Hudson Valley has quickly become a hotbed of American artisanal cider over the past few years. A long heritage of apple growing combined with support from local organizations such as Cornell's Horticulture Program and New York Cider Week founder Glynwood have all lead to a boom in the region. And for you and me, that means there are better ciders available in the northeast now than there have been over the last fifty years.
Next week's New York Cider Week is cider's annual fifteen minutes of fame, when we put down our pints and pinots and reach for rustic farmhouse cider bursting with fall flavors. For this year's Week, we've handpicked five of our favorite regional cider producers for a shotgun guide on New York's best ciders and where to drink them.
Harvest Moon Cidery
Cider has always been a bit of a passion project at Critz Farms, where Matthew and Juanita Critz have been making their own personal batches for the last five years. In 2011 they took their cider public and started Harvest Moon Cidery—this fall is the first chance to taste their ciders outside of the Finger Lakes.
Harvest Moon's standout cider is their awardwinning Four Screw. This balanced, semi-sweet cider will please new drinkers and experience cider lovers alike with its big, tart apple character, subtle mineral quality and hints of baking spices. Four Screw is sweetened using fresh maple syrup from the Critz's six acre maple forest but the maple flavor is subtle. If you're looking for more of a maple punch, reach for their Maple Moon, a sweet cider with a healthy dose of fresh syrup.
Where to buy
Astoria's Queens Kickshaw be serving up Harvest Moon Four Screw all week during their cider tap takeover. Harvest Moon ciders will also be available alongside an international cider lineup at the Harvest Beer & Cider Sessions tasting event on Saturday, October 13th.
Celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, Eve's Cidery has long been a tentpole in the Finger Lakes hard cider community. Their ciders are made with an artistic flair that seems part chance encounter, part calculated risk, and part laser precision. Rather than make cider to follow style guidelines, each Eve's Cider is blended based on acidity, body, and tannins.
Fermented from 100% Northern Spy Apples, Eve's Northern Spy is ideal for new cider drinkers; it's a rustic citrusy cider with a dry finish that pairs especially well with seafood. For more adventurous palates, we recommend the Albee Hill Still & Dry. Uncarbonated and completely dry, the Albee Hill gets its bold structure and mineral character from traditional English and French cider apples.
Where to buy
In addition to their Friday stand in the Union Square Greenmarket, Eve's cider will be served at several tastings and dinners during Cider Week. We recommend a visit to Ninth Ave Vintner on Thursday, October 18th for a chance to talk with the cidermaker and taste Eve's cider in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Aaron Burr Cidery
On a small, 19th century homestead farm in Wurtsboro, NY, Andrew Brennan is crafting unique ciders that showcase Hudson Valley terroir. His Champagne-like Aaron Burr Ginger Apple Cider is subtle and floral with a kick in the finish from fermentation on grated ginger and carrots. The final product is more refined and less heavy-handed than most ginger ciders.
But the true star from the Aaron Burr Cidery is their flagship Homestead Apple Cider. Pressed from wild apples grown on their estate, the Homestead cider is fermented using wild yeast (likely present on the apple skins). The finished cider is complex, with notes of orange pith, grape skin, and rustic apples. The finish is long and lingering—best savored slowly. If there is one cider we recommend seeking out this week, Homestead is it.
Where to buy
Andrew joins fellow cider maker Judith Maloney of West County Ciders on October 17th for a cider pairing dinner at Buttermilk Channel.
Peconic Bay Winery
Long Island is not well known for its apple harvests, but this Long Island winery has produced pleasing results with their two ciders, True Believer and True Companion, made entirely from Long Island dessert apples. The low acid and tannin content from these apples results in a smoother, less complex cider experience full of "appley" character. We prefer the drier True Believer for its lush flavors and easy-drinking nature.
Where to buy
True Believer will be poured alongside a over a dozen other ciders on October 20th at Pour the Core, Long Island's first hard cider festival at the Peconic Bay Winery.
Bad Seed Cider
We first got a taste of this upstart cidery from Highland, NY during our round up of Dry Hopped American Ciders. But their brazen craft beer-inspired take on cider doesn't stop with the hops. Check out their traditional dry cider or their Belgian Wit, fermented with Belgian ale yeast.
Where to buy
All three Bad Seed ciders will be available at at the Week's flagship event, A Hard Cider Revival at the New Amsterdam Market on Saturday, October 14th. Bad Seed ciders are also available most Saturdays at the Fort Green Park Greenmarket.
Beyond New York
Reaching beyond the Hudson Valley, this year's Cider Week also features ciders from Virginia's Foggy Ridge Cider and New Hampshire's Farnum Hill—and Farnum has crafted a custom blend of their Dooryard cider line just for Cider Week. Both cideries will be in attendance at the New Amsterdam market and several events throughout the week.
For something truly global, upstart importers Rowan Imports will be holding free tastings of their Spanish sidra all week long. Be sure to keep an eye on the official New York Cider Week events page for a daily list of events.