With every new year comes new ideas, new resolutions and new goals. For cider makers, I’m sure that also includes new ciders to produce, and perhaps newer varieties of apples to try. Every month at InCider Insights, I ask one question to three creatives so we can all compare the similarities and differences between two artists of the same craft. This month’s question talks about the possibilities that come with each new year.
Trevor Zibulon, co-founder and maker of cider
Goat Rock Cider Company (Petaluma, California.)
Making cider in Sonoma County meant using candy apples (local Grafnstein), so I never understood what the “cider” apple discussions were about or why it mattered. Gravensteins can make great cider, full of spice and floral notes, so I kind of dismissed the whole idea of apple variety being relatively stale.
This idea was pressed last month when I received a call from two different heritage gardeners in Mendocino asking if I wanted to use their fruits. When the juice was pressed from an Oz farm I was frankly shocked, I think there was a hole in the floor in the cemetery where my jaw dropped after tasting the juice from a mix of 40 apples special for cider. It immediately turned out that there was nothing to argue about; Spices, earthy tannins, acids and oh Delicious flavors! This co-op cider is almost over and it’s one of the best things I’ve ever had the privilege of tasting, let alone making.
I also brew a tank of Wickson Crabs from Biodynamic Certified Filigreen Farms which is nothing short of cosmic. I look forward to working closely with both orchards in the future and sharing real cider with the community!
Mica Wallenius, cider maker
Shewa Cedri (Iwate Prefecture, Japan)
Making cider in Japan means working primarily with table apples. I was really happy with the quality of the fruit we used, but there is not much difference between the cultivars and the fruit. Every once in a while, something does stand out.
When the cliff was still just an idea on paper, I found a small deep red apple at a local farmer’s market. her name was Arupusu Otome, or “Alps Maiden”. Next to the larger table apples, the Alpine Maiden immediately caught my attention. I knew it was an apple I wanted to make cider with.
So far, I have not yet worked with Alps Maiden. It is produced on a very small scale in Iwate Prefecture, and our standard suppliers simply do not grow it.
As a little mould, each season brings new and fun opportunities. I wouldn’t be surprised to find myself with a tank of Alps Maiden brewing in a rough season soon.
Liv Stevens, Cedar Maker and Founder
Noble Cedar (Asheville, North Carolina)
Dabenet. Until recently, there was a long list of apples that I didn’t have access to but wanted to make cider with. Fortunately, four years ago we partnered with Lewis Creek Farms to grow our very own cider orchard. The orchard contains a wide variety of American Heirloom, French and English apple varieties.
Unfortunately, this season, due to the late freezing, local orchards lost 85% of the apple harvest. The one apple we grow but can’t harvest is Dabinett. This, along with Kingston Black, is one of the most popular British ciders. It is a bittersweet apple that has a good proportion of sugar and tannin.
Next season we hope to have a good harvest of Dabinet and English cider apples. If so, we will be releasing a British mix as part of the new Orchard Reserve series. This year we launched cider made with American and French apples from The New Orchard.
Lee Reeve is the owner and operator of inCiderJapan GK (www.inciderjapan.com), an importer/distributor, retailer, and producer of cider and cider commodities. He is also the publisher of inCiderJapan, Asia’s first and only bilingual magazine dedicated to all kinds of cider.
Lee Reeve can be reached at [email protected]