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The Revival of New England Hard Cider: Six Cideries To Try This Fall

While craft beer has been booming in recent years, New England hard cider seems poised to steal its place as the region’s hottest product. In contrast to the syrupy sweet products churned out by hard cider superpowers, small craft cideries have emerged with a focus on using local apples for a regional flavor. As New England has a huge quantity of hard cider to choose from, these six cideries will help you get a feel for each state’s unique offerings.

credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism
credit: Massachusetts Office of Travel & Tourism

Carr’s Ciderhouse - North Hadley, MA

This North Hadley Ciderhouse truly embodies the diversity of New England hard cider. Stop by to sample the dry sparkling cider, the cider black (infused with black currant) as well as the apple pommeau, a dessert cider fortified with apple brandy and aged in an oak barrel. The husband and wife team of Jonathan Carr and Nicole Blum spent six years tending to their baby apple trees before launching the ciderhouse in 2012. Lucky for them, their hard work has paid off in the form of high-quality, artisanal hard ciders. Stay at the nearby Lord Jeffery Inn and relax in a historic New England setting.

Carr Ciderhouse, North Hadley, MA
Photo: Lane Turner, Carr Ciderhouse

Holmberg Orchards – Gales Ferry, CT

Located in the hills of Gales Ferry, CT, Holmberg Orchards is a perfect place to stop and enjoy a cold pint of hard cider. Owners Richard and Diane Holmberg grow their apples on a property that has been owned by their family for over a hundred years. Visit their historic tasting room (the oldest building on the property) on Saturdays and Sundays, and stop by their Farm Market if all this hard cider has you in the mood to eat some freshly picked apples. Complement your trip to the orchard with fantastic outdoor activities in nearby Groton.

Newport Vineyard – Middletown, Rhode Island

Although Newport Vineyards is primarily a winery, their hard cider Rhody Coyote stands up against any of its competitors. For the last fourteen years, brothers John and Paul Nunes have been making apple cider with apples mostly grown on Aquidneck Island. As for the quirky name of the cider, the Nunes brothers decision to begin making cider just happened to coincide with a coyote study they were conducting on their property. A coyote got trapped on their land, was dubbed Rhody Coyote and voilà! The brothers had found their cider’s name too. Stay in Rhode Island and take the trip to Newport Vineyards to buy and sample Rhody Coyote.

Eden Ice Cider – Newport, VT

It comes as no surprise that Eden Ice Cider embraces frosty weather, considering that it’s located in one of the northernmost cities in Vermont. To make their ice cider, owners Eleanor and Albert Leger take advantage of the natural winter weather and leave hundreds of gallons of cider outside to freeze. The end result of this process is a sweet, complex dessert wine that even the most casual of cider drinkers would enjoy. You can taste all of their products, which include not only ice cider, but also aperitifs and sparkling hard cider, at the Newport Tasting Center. After sampling these sweet ciders, take in the mountain views at the Tram Haus Lodge at Jay Peak Resort & Conference Center, a half-hour away from Newport.

Apple press, Carr Ciderhouse, North Hadley, MA
Photo: Lane Turner, Carr Ciderhouse

Farnum Hill – Lebanon, NH

Boston Magazine considers Farnum Hill one of the top twelve cideries in New England, and it certainly has history to back up its methods. New England hard cider has experienced a revival since the ‘90s in large part due to the presence of Farnum Hill owner and manager Steve Wood. After a trip to England in which he discovered dry-British style ciders, Wood returned to New Hampshire with the mission of implementing pre-prohibition era apple varieties and techniques into his cider production. Stop by to fill up your growler and to learn about the history of New England hard cider. Enrich your knowledge of the region’s history further by staying at the Hanover Inn Dartmouth, the oldest continually operating inn in the New Hampshire.

Urban Farm Fermentory – Portland, ME

If common hard cider just doesn’t cut it for you, check out Urban Farm Fermentory in Portland, Maine. The self-proclaimed first “fermentory” prides themselves on offering lesser-known fermentations like wild fermented cider as well as kombucha and mead. Unlike commercial cideries, U.F.F. uses wild yeasts to feast on the natural cider sugars. If all-natural cider sounds right up your alley, visit their tasting room, open Tuesday – Sunday from 12-7. Once you’ve visited this funky fermentory, consider staying at the equally artistic and eclectic Pomegranate Inn.

While these six cideries are certainly scrumptious, they are just a sampling of what New England hard cider has to offer. Be sure to tell us your favorites and why they delight your taste buds on Facebook or Twitter.

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