As American as Virginia Cider

by Patrick Evans-Hylton | Posted: Oct 31, 2014 | Updated: Nov 9, 2015

Comments: 1 Comment

Updated November 9, 2015.

 

Like you need an excuse to celebrate Virginia cider, Nov. 13-22 is officially Cider Week Virginia, a time to explore this time-honored imbibe through a myriad of events, including festivals, food and cider pairing dinners, and cider tastings.

 

Cider History

Although “As American as apple pie” is a familiar saying, early settlers found only crabapples awaiting them in the New World.

Within a quarter century of the foundation of Jamestown, however, orchards were established in Virginia and the Massachusetts Bay Colony from European stock. At the time, apples were commonly called winter banana or melt-in-the-mouth.

Once they had apples, the colonists could
 make cider. Not the unfiltered, unfermented apple juice we commonly think of today; this is hard cider, and it once was a part of everyday living. Thomas Jefferson considered cider (along with beer) to be one of the necessary “table drinks.”

This was a beverage that could be made relatively easily and stored without refrigeration all year; it also maximized the harvest by using bruised and damaged fruit. The fermentation meant it was safer to drink than most water available at the time.

No longer a necessity, today’s hard cider is savored in its own right, and a handful of Virginia cider makers are crafting artisan cider that has subtleties and nuances much like a fine wine.

 

Cider Savvy

Cider is more akin to wine than beer.

Like wine is fermented grape juice, cider is fermented apple juice. Beer is made from grains, and is brewed.

Albemarle CiderWorks

Albemarle CiderWorks

Also like wine, there are various expressions of cider that come from the apple/apples used and from the touch of the cider maker. Cider contains at least .5 percent and less than 7 percent alcohol by volume.

The offerings range from dry to sweet and from still to bubbly, making cider great pairing with many foods as well as enjoyed on its own.

According to the folks at CiderWeekVA.com, here are some tips for pairing cider and food:

– Pair dry and robust cider with meat dishes
– Fruity cider goes well with spicy dishes, like Thai or barbecue with vinegar-based sauces
– Crisp ciders go great with rich, buttery dishes
– Pair dessert ciders with fruity desserts and intensely-flavored cheeses

 

— VISIT VIRGINIA CIDERIES —

Here is a list of Virginia cideries across the state, as well as their offerings (visit their website for cider descriptions) and other information to help you plan your quaffing:

Albemarle CiderWorks * North Garden

– A tasting room is available to try the various ciders

– The InCider Club offers members biannual shipments of cider, complimentary tastings and discounts

Blue Bee Cider

Blue Bee Cider

Blue Bee Cider * Richmond

– A tasting room is available to try the various ciders

– The Cider Club offers shipments of cider, access to events and preferred pricing

– Blue Bee is Virginia’s first urban cidery, located near downtown Richmond

 

Bold Rock Hard Cider * Nellysford

– Bold Rock just opened a Cider Barn which includes their tasting room and pub. The barn-style building features a combination of rustic wood and brick, a dramatic fireplace and 600 native oak beams including a 150-year-old, 6,000-pound beam engraved with the motto, “Be Bold. Tread Lightly. Make it Happen.”

 

Castle Hill Cidery * Keswick

– A tasting room is available to try the various ciders

– The Cider Club offers members shipments of cider, complimentary tastings and discounts

– The romantic Cider Barn and cidery grounds are available for weddings and other special events

 

Cobbler Mountain Cellars * Delaplane

– Cobbler Mountain Cellars is also a winery, producing vintages from Cabernet Franc to Vidal Blanc

– A tasting room is available to try the various ciders and wines

 

Corcoran Vineyards * Waterford

– Corcoran Vineyards is also a winery, producing vintages from Cabernet Franc to Tannat

– Corcoran also operate a brewery with around two dozen beers offered

– A tasting room is available to try the various ciders, wines and beers

 

Foggy Ridge Cider * Dugspur

– A tasting room is available to try the various ciders

– The Cider Club offers shipments of cider, cider discounts, and orders which may include special products and vintages not always available to other customers

– Foggy Ridge Cider owner Diane Flynt is recognized as a pioneer in Virginia cider making

 

Mt. Defiance Cidery * Middleburg

– A tasting room is available to try the various ciders

– Mt. Defiance offers handcrafted, small batch hard ciders and spirts from their tasting room in downtown Middleburg

Showalter's Orchard & Greenhouse and Old Hill Cidery

Showalter’s Orchard & Greenhouse and Old Hill Cidery

Old Hill Cider * Timberville

– A tasting room is available to try the various ciders

– Old Hill Cider is at Showalter’s Orchard that operates a seasonal market featuring apples (you can also u-pick) and other items. A store stells jams, jellies, apple butter, sweet cider and more.

 

Potter’s Craft Cider * Free Union

– A tasting room is not available but tours are conducted by appointment; info@PottersCraftCider.com

Winchester Ciderworks

Winchester Ciderworks

Winchester Ciderworks * Winchester

– The four Wicked Wiles varieties are anticipated to be available by late 2014

– Tours by appointment are forthcoming

 

— TRY THIS AT HOME —

Virginia cider is wonderful on it’s own, but if you are looking for a great cider cocktail – or two – to serve, may we humbly suggest a few of our favorites:

Stone Fence

This cocktail has been around since colonial days and is simple and sinfully delicious. Some modern versions replace the rye with rum, but we are traditionalists at heart; try Virginia’s Copper Fox Rye Whiskey.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • Virginia cider

Method

In a tall glass, add a few ice cubes. Pour in rye whiskey, then fill with cider. Garnish with an apple wedge.

Yields 1 cocktail

 

Apple Blossom Thyme

A riff on the classic mimosa, apple cider replaces orange juice and the drink is kicked up a notch with a shot of vodka and smoothed out with a dash of brown sugar.

Ingredients

Method

In a champagne flute, add brown sugar and vodka; swirl slightly to wet the sugar. Add cider and top off with sparkling wine. Garnish with a small twig of thyme.

Yields 1 Cocktail

 

Candied Apple

Classic flavors of a candy apple come together in this drink; make it a decadent dessert by doubling the recipe, serving it to a beer mug, and adding a scoop or two of ice cream.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce apple brandy or schnapps
  • 1 ounce cinnamon liqueur (or cinnamon-infused simple syrup)
  • 1 ounce Virginia bourbon
  • Virginia cider

Method

Rim a martini glass with turbinado sugar. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add brandy or schnapps, liqueur or simple syrup and bourbon and shake; strain into a martini glass and top with cider. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Yields 1 cocktail

Portions of this article appear in my book, Dishing Up Virginia and in the November/December 2014 issue of Coastal Virginia Magazine.

Patrick Evans-HyltonPatrick Evans-Hylton, a Johnson & Wales University trained chef, is a Norfolk, Va.-based food journalist, historian and educator. His work has appeared in print, television, radio and social media since 1995. Evans-Hylton calls his cookbook, Dishing Up Virginia, his love letter to the state’s foods and foodways. He blogs at PatrickEvansHylton.com

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