Monday, February 23, 2015

My Cider Event Calendar: Cider and Beer Together At Last, Gathering of Farm Cideries, & GLINTCAP

Just a quick post while I'm still going through my notes and photos from CiderCon. (Don't worry, those posts are coming.)

These are some of the awesome cider events coming up on my calendar!
 
Cider and Beer Together At Last in Ithaca, NY
February 26th 5-9pm Free Entrace (but cider and food cost $)
Hosted by Ithaca Beer Company (http://ithacabeer.com)

Cideries Attending
South Hill Cider
Bellwether Cidery
1911 Cider

 
Nine Pin Anniversary Party and Gathering of Farm Cideries in Albany, NY
February 28th 11am-4pm Tickets are $10 ahead of time and $15 at the door

Hosted by Nine Pin Cider Works (http://www.ninepincider.com)

Cideries Attending
Sundog Cider, Chatham
Blackduck Cidery, Ovid
Cider Creek Hard Cider, Canisteo
Fishkill Farms, Hopewell Junction
Bad Seed Cider Company, Highland
Kaneb Orchards, Massena
Descendant Cider Co., New York City 
Maplestone’s Cider, Maspeth
(and possibly more!)

In addition to cider, there will be music, speakers, and food available from a beloved local food truck.

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And a little bit later, but perhaps the most exciting of all, is the 10th Annual Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition. This is one of the two largest cider competitions in the world. And I'll be attending as a judge for my second year in a row!

The event takes place April 10-12, 2015 in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Interested folks should read more about the organization and the upcoming competition here. It is not too late to volunteer as a judge, steward, or to find out about submitting your own ciders to the competition.

Here's the site with the info: http://greatlakescider.com/index.html

As I find out more, I'll be sure to post it here.

Basically though, I'd love to see friendly faces at all of these events. Come on out if you can and if you do, say hi!

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Reviewing Ciders for Winter: Schilling Spiced Cider

Welcome to my series of posts reviewing ciders especially suited to winter! Though February is more than half over, I feel like much of the United States is buried deep in a winter. Right now winter feels so deep that it makes many of us think of Westeros and that Winter has finally and actually arrived. Anyhow, geeking out aside. It is cold and snowy and for some folks very cold and very snowy.

We need ciders that can somehow complement this insanity. Hence, I've looked through my collection and identified a handful of ciders that for one reason or another seem like they are best enjoyed in winter. I'll be reviewing through these types of ciders: spiced, oaked, things with flavors of bourbon, caramel, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, etc. etc. and saving my summery stuff for later.

My first winter-friendly cider is Schilling Spiced Cider. This is one my amazing husband brought back from his trip to Oregon last fall. The company is not from Oregon, but from Seattle, Washington. They also make a point to use only Washington State apples.

Since I didn't know very much about this company, I visited their website:
http://schillingcider.com

The site has plenty of information presently clearly with a warm and pleasant aesthetic.I actually found far more interesting material than I can use in one post, so I though I'd start with Schilling's first statement about themselves, "Here at Schilling Cider, we believe in minimizing our impact on the environment." First statements make first impressions and tend to show a company's primary focus. In this case, Schilling identifies themselves as a cidery invested in sound environmental practices.

The other thing I like to include is a company's last statement about themselves because it often underscores something of particular importance in a clear way. Schilling's final statement on their about us page says, "We founded Schilling Cider to bring great cider to the masses by crafting high quality cider in affordable packaging and offering it at a fair price." This presents a very different identity than one solely based on environmental concerns; it taps price, value, and, oddly enough, packaging. (Side note: if I'm not mistaken, I think this refers to their use of cans in addition to bottles. Lots of people have opinions about cider coming in cans. They fuss about it. Eh. That's not what we're talking about today.)

More interesting to me and perhaps to other cider geeks, this is what Schilling says about their cidermaking process:
We believe the yeast selection and fermentation processes play a major role in the characteristics of the final product. We focus our energy accordingly. We use several yeast strains across our different ciders, sometimes multiple in a single batch. We carefully select the highest quality and most unique adjuncts for recipes that call for them. We also always choose quality ingredients including local hops, raw ginger puree, and American white oak. We don’t believe in following tradition. We believe in innovation.
Sounds like they focus on yeast choice and creative additions. They aren't as focused on apple varieties. Good to know and very logical for their location.

One last thing I learned is that Schilling both sells their own cider and runs a cider tap room in Seattle seven days a week. If you want to learn more about their tap room as opposed to their house brand, their Facebook page is the way to go: https://www.facebook.com/SchillingCiderHouse
Schilling Spiced Cider

Here's some more specific information from Schilling about their Spiced Cider
  • Our “taste of the holidays” cider!
  • Warming notes of cloves, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cardamom
  • 6.9% ABV
Appearance: brilliant, lots of visible bubbles, persimmon

It looks very deeply flavorful and spiced in the glass because of its intense color. I can see through the cider easily, so I'd call it brilliant. As the photo shows, we can see some small bubbles but no foam or head.

Aromas: Maple, oak, apricot, dust

Frequently when I smell dustiness in a cider I also smell cooked apples and stones. Not so for the Schilling Spiced Cider. I can smell mostly maple, molasses, oak, and apricot. I don't really smell apples much at all.

Sweetness: Semi-sweet, especially at first

This cider hits with an immediate sweetness that backs off as I can taste more of the spices.


Flavors and drinking experience: mace, allspice, nutmeg, a bit of ginger; some bitterness

First and foremost this cider gives me a progression from sweet to spicy. At first it can taste that maple sweetness that comes across in the aroma, but it is quickly replaced by a strong blend of wintry spices. Next, the cider tastes oaky, boozy and lingering. It stays more than a little spicy. I can detect shades of minerals.  Big sips give complex notes, with nice bitter, almost leafy, papery back-end bitterness.  This isn't the smoothest cider, but it is so far from boring.

This cider is entirely appropriate for winter. The spices are enticing and exciting. It doesn't feel sleepy. As my photos reveal. I enjoyed this cider while playing Scrabble. The pairing worked well. I tried it also with two desserts, first chocolate cake with cream cheese frosting and then cranberry oatmeal cookies. It paired much better with the oaty and hearty cookies that offered up their own dose of wintery spice. 

Monday, February 9, 2015

Cider Review Roundup: Virtue, Slyboro, William, Aspall's, Kettleborough, and Bad Seed

Whew! Back from Cider Con in Chicago (posts coming soon) and covered in yet more snow! Winter is very...real outside of Florida. But it is beautiful and snow days give me unexpected chances to write, so I'll take advantage while I can.  Today I've continued the process of going through my computer, phone, email, etc. to find sets of abandoned cider notes and photos. Since these reviews are varyingly complete or incomplete I though I might share a whole batch of them together.
 
Please consider most of these pictures representative of the appearance and style of the ciders in this post; I'm doing my best to match things up but these are found notes and found pictures from various moments in 2013 and 2014.



Virtue Cider's The Ledbury

http://virtuecider.com

This is how Virtue describes this particular cider, "The Ledbury Cider is an English-style medium cider crafted by Virtue with Tom Oliver. It's not too dry, not too sweet. A blend of old world bittersweet apples and new world heirloom varieties are fermented with native yeast, adding a bit of farminess to the ripe apple nose."

In appearance, this cider is relatively light and just a bit cloudy. It tastes bright and peppery with an almost spicey aftertaste, high tannin high acid, medium level of bubbles; not a lot of body, but would go well with swordfish. Smells like honey. At first, sweet melon, but not too gentle. Interesting and dynamic.





Slyboro's Night Pasture

http://www.slyboro.com/nightcider.php

On the Slyboro website, this is what I could find about their Night Pasture: "Subtly complex, dry, with hints of spice and caramel, made from Golden Delicious, English Bittersweet varieties and Northern Spy apples. Named after our oldest orchard, where earlier farmers once turned out their livestock at the end of the workday. Now a favorite spot for painters, dancers, apple pickers, skiers and red foxes. Serve chilled. 8% alc/vol 0% residual sugar. 750ml"

In appearnce this is very bright and clear; it looks still. While big gulps can allow me to detect a little fizz, this cider basically still as it appears. The Night Pasture tastes lightly but decidedly oaked, not a long finish, super clean. Bright and uplifting but very little acid with medium tannins. It tastes more minerally and stony ot me or like very green underripe grapes. Somehow the whole flavor is green.


William Premium Cider

http://www.lcbo.com/lcbo/product/william-premium-cider/173039#.VNkVhSeIA04

This cider has a notably low ABV of 5.2%. It is made in Quebec and sold in cans. The brief official description says this about the William Cider, "pale straw colour; delicate green apple aroma; off-dry, soft spritz with balanced acidity."

I enjoyed the nice burst of bubbles on pouring. Smells like sweetened apple chips. Tastes like a drier caramel apple. Very fruity, semi-sweet, drinkable, easy, and pleasant with tiny note of bitterness like hops or something beery. I tastes it as lemon but two of my companions definitely interpreted this note as more reminiscent of light lager. It tastes like approachable English pub ciders in the best way. This cider doesn't take itself too seriously and is all the better for it. 


Aspall Grand Cru

http://www.aspall.co.uk

I could not find very much information on this cider aside from the fact that the apples used are organic and the ABV is 6.8%.

Lots of funky notes in the aroma make this cider stand out. The taste is similarly sharp, barnyardy, and tannic. I cant taste wood, sweetness and complexity with some phenolic notes that at first tasted just lovely and astringent to me. But once one of my fellow tasters suggested that they reminded him of olive juice, I couldn't get that thought out of my mind. Yes, the tannins and vegetal notes plus sweetness somehow come across like olive juice. Still a great cider though.


Kettleborough Cider House

http://www.kettleboroughciderhouse.com

"Our flagship cider.  Dry Cider is a departure from sweeter run-of-the-mill hard ciders that have always dominated the market. Our Dry Cider is made from a blend of Northern Spy and Granny Smith apples to create a balanced acidity and fresh green apple flavor.  Think 'Dry Apple Prosecco.'  It pairs well with many foods, especially white meats, cheeses, fruits and especially any spice-forward dishes."

Tim Dressel makes this cider in the Hudson Valley of New York. The appearance of this cider surprises me because it looks nearly white in color. The cider smells wonderfully like Northern Spy apples. Cider is very acidic, a little meek but bright. The apple smell seems to presage more than the flavor actually delivers. I get quickly dissolving tannins that give it minerality. One note stands out agressively with lime and tropical fruit.


Bad Seed Dry Cider

http://www.badseedhardcider.com

Here is how Bad Seed rather cheekily introduces their Dry Cider, "Each bottle of Bad Seed Dry Cider is hand crafted in small batches never filtered, bottle conditioned and made from apples grown in the Hudson Valley. A Dry Cider that's really dry. Yeah that's right buttercup this isn't your little sister's sweet cider. What's more, each cider has been carefully tasted, tested, and then tasted again by our cidery team. Lucky bastards!" 

I got a big honey smell that goes positively florid after repeated sniffs. In appearance it looks hazy and light yellow. The Dry smells much sweeter than it tastes. The cider is high tannin with medium aid. It tastes just a little chemically but more than that I taste dry papery pineapple. The mouthfeel has medium astringence and a light body. 

Monday, February 2, 2015

Cider Review: Castle Hill Cider's Celestial




There's time for one last cider review before Cider Con 2015, and I have just the cider for it: Castle Hill Cider's Celestial. Many thanks for my enthusiastic friends who took me cider hunting for the entirety of my vacation because this find surprised me in a Florida grocery store wine shop(http://www.luckysupermarkets.com in Gainesville, FL for those who care). Especially surprising because the cider itself is not from Florida but from Virginia. Thanks so much, guys!

 In looking up the company, I noticed how beautiful the Castle Hill Cider website looks: http://castlehillcider.com

Mind you, I could be feeling pretty biased towards seeing beautiful summer views of trees, apples, and green grass. Things are pretty chilly in upstate tonight (predicted windchill is -15). But more seriously, the page is helpful, clear, and filled to the brim with gorgeous photographs. This is what the folks behind the cider say about themselves, their cider philosophy, and what sets apart Castle Hill Cider.
We take an apple-centered approach to cider making. The aim of our technique is to bring out the best of each year’s harvest. Utilizing both tradition and the cutting edge, Castle Hill Cider strives to bring you the highest quality and most enjoyable ciders. From fermenting the Levity in buried kvevri, the world’s oldest known fermentation vessels, to arresting fermentation of the Serendipity with cross flow filtration; from working with growers of varieties truly suited to cider, to renovating an 80 year old orchard, we strive to bring you the best cider to share with meals, friends, and relaxing moments.
 This set of claims comes across as fairly lofty but incredibly interesting, especially when paired with cider names like Celestial, Serendipity, Levity, and Gravity. I admit that my curiosity is more than piqued. I also love that they distinguish between high quality and enjoyable; that's funny and unexpected but not without truth. Castle Hill Ciders have a tasting room and, for seven special states (of which New York is not one), a cider club which offers steady good discounts for quarterly three-bottle shipments of cider. Why no New York, friends?

In looking at the descriptions both online and on the bottle of the Celestial, I found quite a bit of information. Here's the online description, "This cider has firm tannin structure that exhibit notes of earthiness, spice and citrus.This comes from a blend of Ellis Bitter and Albemarle Pippin apples. Celestial’s finish is enhanced by a touch of Winesap apples that offer a bright clean finish. Pairing this cider with dishes incorporating rosemary or lavender will pick up on its aromatic notes." The ABV hits right above average for artisanal ciders at 8.1%. 

Reading from my bottle, "Made from classic Virginia cider apples and English bittersweets, Celetial shimmers with layers of apricot, citrus, and melon over a generous balance of tannins and bright acid. Star kissed."

These share quite a few similarities but one emphasizes tannins more and the other fruit and acid. We'll see how the cider actually tastes.


 Appearance: straw, small visible bubbles, brilliant

Though I see some bubbles, I don't see too many. The color looks like a shining pale straw and it simply sparkles with brilliance in the glass. Very lovely.

Aromas: cooked apples, yeast, minerals, rich

The primary aroma is one of a wonderful home-cooked apple sauce. If you read this blog regularly, you know this is one profile of cider aroma for certain heritage apples. Secondarily, I get nice yeasty dry minerally notes. The holistic impression is of rich blended fruit. It is very natural to smell and gives me the expectation that this cider won't be particularly sweet.  Lastly my companions and I could detect green walnut and ripe pear. Smells yummy.

Sweetness/Dryness: Off-dry

The Celestial is a very acid-edged off-dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: high tannin, very high acid, medium sparkle

To be fairly factual at first, both descriptions are correct. This cider offers high tannins and even higher levels of acid. I think they use Champagne yeast. I would not describe this cider confrontational. Pleasant. My only critique would be that the finish fades quickly. I can detect some warmth from the higher ABV, but the cider is not hot. The Celestial tastes very clean with notes of underripe peaches, green wood, and spice. Definitely Mid-level sparkling, and bottle conditioned.  The bright citrus gives what little sweetness I can detect some character. Almost more twiggy than fruity, like an apple stem. I would call this cider very North American in style. I do get the tiniest phenolic note when it warms up more. A cider for committed cider lovers but friendly enough for anyone who likes white wine or champagne. Two thumbs up!

I think the Celestial would be delightfully drinkable with nearly any food. We had it, oddly enough, with local Florida tortilla chips and special Austin, TX salsa. I found it very good that way, but I would also have been well pleased to serve it with crab cakes and asparagus. My firmest recommendation is to serve this cider with warmth and conversation. It can support both beautifully.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Cider Review: Uncle John's Cider Rosé

This afternoon I am desperate for some color. Yes the whites of snow and grays of winter are among nature's subtle masterpieces, but I am ready for something brighter!  This is what led me to Uncle John's Fruit House Winery Cider Rosé. Of course a beautifully red cider will clear away any sense of winter blahs! Besides, I've been saving this one long enough. It is another one of the treasures I got to bring home from GLINTCAP.



To begin with a bit of background. Uncle John's Fruit House Winery is part of the larger business of Uncle John's Ciderhouse in Michigan. It looks like an amazing place to visit, especially if you're like me and just go nuts for agricultural tourism fun with apples and pumpkins and baked goods and spectacular views. 

Read about the place and the cider on this website: http://www.ujhardcider.com/home.html

My own previous reviews of Uncle John's Ciders include on of the American 150
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/04/uncle-johns-cider-american-150.html

and the Draught Cider (in a can!).
http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/06/cider-review-uncle-johns-cider-draught.html

I've enjoyed both of these ciders, but I'm ready to see how different a Rosé will taste. My previous experience with a Rosé cider is extremely limited, so the curiousity is great. If you want to read a bit more about rosé ciders in general from someone whose had more of them than me, I'd recommend Chris Lehault's article on Serious Eats http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/08/rose-cider-how-it-gets-pink-what-to-try-uncle-johns-lukeluk-traditions.html

This is what I read about this cider on its label:
Now that you have come to love our initial line of ciders, it is time to introducet this line of specialty ciders - made from fruit taht is unique in nature, and is now always available publicly. Cider Rosé is very special. Its color comes from 100% red flished apples such as Geneva, Redfield, Watermelon, Niedzwetzkyana and others. The rosé pigment is evident the minute the apples are pressed, and only gets richer as it is fermented. This is a very rare cider - as are the apple. There are less than 40 cases available, and it won't last long. Enjoy!
Only 40 cases! Whoa, I feel very special indeed to have a bottle of this.

As several articles that mention this cider, it seems significant to note that Uncle John's Cider Rosé is first to use Malus Niedzwetzkyana. Aside from just being a really cool apple name, this matters because that's a pretty neat apple variety and the genetic grandparent as it were of most cultivated apples with red flesh. One last fact, the ABV is a very reasonable 6.7%.


Appearance: Cerise, brilliant, fizzy!

When first poured, the Cider Rosé fizzles up into the most delicately light pink mousse imaginable. I wish I were quick enough with a camera to catch it because it doesn't last. This cider's own color is cerise or perhaps even the Pantone shade Magenta. This looks deeper than many rosé wines perhaps because of the differences between red grape skins and red-fleshed apples.

Aromas: minerals, strawberries, rhubarb, fresh apple

It took a few sniffs to really feel like I understood how this cider smells. It was deliciously elusive for a bit. Eventually I decided that the Cider Rosé smells like minerals as much as it smells like strawberries, rhubarb, apples and cranberry. Fruity smells, but I'm anticipating dryness.

Tastes so tart I made a face for the first sip. First red berries and dryness!

Dryness/Sweetness: Dry! Oh my!

I wasn't quite sure what to expect here because the cider smelled like it might be dry but both of my previous Uncle John's ciders were semi-dry. It tastes dry indeed!

Flavors and drinking experience: many stages of flavor, pleasant, highly acidic

The dryness of this cider speaks first, and it remains acidic throughout. The biggest surprise to me is the pleasingly astringent third act; it may come in late but it sharply continues through the finish. I love how much I find in this cider. I think the red-fleshed apples probably include many eating varieties all of which can contribute to pleasant levels of acidity. It has just the right amount of sparkle to be very drinkable, something I've noticed in general with Uncle John's ciders.

This one has to be my favorite though. All of that zesty red fruit tartness is just so pleasing!


I had this with Celebration Roast (braised in cider of course) and roasted brussel sprouts. The pairing worked very very well because each element offered its own interest and the stuffing of a celebration roast has butternut squash, mushrooms and granny smith apples all of which respond well to a full bodied dry cider like this. As for pairing this with an activity, if you can find any (or happen to have saved some from warmer months) drink it while watching the snow fall and drift. It will remind you in both appearance and flavor that warmer and more colorful days are coming.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Cider Review: Redbyrd Orchard Cider's North Star

Perhaps three weeks into this shiny new year is too soon to review a cider by the folks who made my absolute favorite cider of last year. Alas, those protests will go unheeded. This set of cider notes actually pre-dates my falling totally in love with the Wild Pippin, and this represents a start of some early spring cleaning around here. I have lots of slightly odd sets of notes or sets of photos with incomplete notes. I have really extensive written notes for this cider, but much in the way of pictures. The cider is interesting, so I'll work around the lack of pictures. I plead for your patience.

Redbyrd Orchard Cider is a small local cidery made up of a wife-husband team (Deva and Eric) with a beautiful orchard and some really big goals.
Redbyrd Orchard Cider approaches cidermaking with a winemaker’s sensibility.   As with grapes to wine, to make truly great cider, you must start with truly great fruit. (You can make bad cider out of good fruit, but you cannot, no matter how hard you try, make good cider out of bad fruit.)   “We are lucky to live in an area ideal for pomme fruit and Our goal is to grow the best fruit around and in turn offer you the best cider possible!”
Read more about them, their ciders, and their really exciting cider CSA on their website: http://redbyrdorchardcider.com  For more frequently updated information from Redbyrd Orchard Cider, you can visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/RedbyrdOrchardCider.

As my faithful readers I'm sure already know, Redbyrd Orchard Ciders have appeared in this blog a few times before:

The Starblossom http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/10/finger-lakes-cider-week-special-review.html

Their Dry Harvest Cider 2013: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/12/cider-review-reddbyrd-2013-harvest-cider.html This is the best of the reviews not only because it talks about great cider, but because there is a kitten picture.

The Wild Pippin: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/12/cider-review-redbyrd-orchard-ciders.html

And most recently as my #1 cider of 2014, the Wild Pippin: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/12/my-10-favorite-ciders-of-2014.html
In looking back at those reviews, the major pattern I see from Redbyrd Orchard Cider is their love of extremely high acid ciders. We can surely expect something tart and acidic from the North Star.

This is what Redbyrd Orchard Cider says about their North Star, "A beautiful and rich blend of 70% Golden Russet, 15% Northern Spy, and 15% Rhode Island Greening.  Fruit pressed frozen on Dec. 6, 2013.  1.5 % Residual Sugar,  10% alc/vol." I'm also willing to bet that the aromas will be good; I have loved many aromas from Northern Spy and various Russet varieties. What I don't know much about is how pressing these apples frozen will have altered the finished cider. We'll see.


Appearance: brilliant, small bubbles, deep straw color

Lovely cider in the glass. It is truly brilliant. The color shades almost too deep to be called straw and instead goes in the direction of untreated pine grain or light apricot flesh. Truly lovely and a shame I don't have more and better pictures.

Aromas: applesauce, dusty, green apple, perhaps a tiny hint of acetaldehyde

This cider produces so many notes for me to smell; it really is quite complex. First I notice some dusty chalky smells that combine fluidly with the cider's primary applesauce aroma. The apple aromas smell very cooked and soft to me. Underneath all of that I get perhaps a tiny hint of acetaldehyde flaw that smells a little bleachy along with some hints of green apple candy. Though I might be detecting some imperfections, overall this smells tasty.

Dryness/Sweetness: Off dry but altered by acidity

Right at the start, on the tip of tongue I perceive a powdery, slightly honey-ish, vanilla flavor, but it becomes immediately overtaken by the North Star's acidity. Though this cider has a residual sugar of 1.5% and some fruity characteristics, it actually presents as drier than it is because of the high levels of acidity.

Flavors and drinking experience: umami, acidity, ginger, low tannins

Wow! The umani flavors in this cider really remind me of fresh ripe tomato and lots of it! That's so interesting. I can tastes med-high or even higher acidity; it really lights up salivary glands. Notes of ginger and grapefuit bounce around my palate in a super lively way. This cider is sharp and spicy
 but has almost no tannins. It does offer decent astringency and is quite drinkable. I think I enjoy the persimmon and spicy notes the most. Medium levels of sparkle.

The North Star contains a relatively high 10% alcohol by volume, which makes it's finish just a bit  bitter despite low tannins. I wonder what kind of yeast went into this.

My recommendation for pairing this cider would be to balance out the high acidity with something warm, rich, and perhaps a bit heavy. It would work well with pestos, cream sauces, mushrooms, and all manner of winter comfort foods. In my perfect world, put this cider with a vegetarian meat loaf, rich mashed potatoes, and roasted brussel sprout all slathered in mushroom gravy. That sounds pretty good right about now.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Less than a month till CiderCON 2015!


I woke up on a recent morning to a most amazing email. My request to cover CiderCON for this blog and to photograph the event was accepted! Best news of 2015! I cannot even imagine better news yet.

So, what is ciderCON you might ask? It is the professional gathering of cider folks in the United States and this year it is happening in Chicago from February 3rd-6th, 2015. This event comes to us through the hard work of the United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM). Read about the organization, its programs, goals, and achievements on the website: http://www.ciderassociation.org/

The USACM describes CiderCON by saying, "CiderCON was created to offer the commercial cider industry an outlet to meet, share ideas, collaborate and effect positive changes in cidermaking and cider fruit production best practices, the cider market and cider regulations.  CiderCON is organized by the United States Association of Cider Makers."

Obviously this is important and interesting stuff. There look to be fantastic panels on orchard processes, cider making, business issues, marketing, pairing, and who knows what else. We'll be tasting and talking and analyzing cider for four straight days! Mind you, it is in Chicago, in February. Whoa, cold and windy. But, I'll take the dubious with the fabulous.

You can follow them on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cidercon
 If you cannot come to this gathering but want to keep up with our shenanigans from afar, keep your eyes peeled for a twitter hashtag related to CiderCON. I know several folks will be doing their best to livetweet the whole experience.


Immediately following the conference, Chicago will be hit by the largest cider tasting event in America: Cider Summit Chicago. This event for the public brings together more than 150 different ciders from around the world. Obviously, this amazes me to my very toes. I so wish I could be there, but I must be back home serving cider myself by that day. You guys still in Chicago, go for me! tell me all about it. Take notes! Take pics. Make me super jealous. It won't be hard. The details: This happens on Saturday, February 7, 2015. You can taste deliciousness either from 11am-3pm or from 4pm-8pm in the Grand Ballroom at Navy Pier.

The rest of the details can be found here: http://www.cidersummitnw.com/chicagoeventinfo.html
(You can even see who some of the folks pouring cider will be! I can see 8 favorite producers already!)

My excitement goes beyond all bounds. You see, I am a huge nerd, and nerds love cons. So this, a con about cider, is basically the best thing ever. I always enjoy getting together with fellow cider freaks, but doing that with this much serious learning. Be still my heart.

I'll try to post a few more real reviews before then, but, basically, I'll just spend a little while jumping up and down in pure joy.