“I’ll never drink Angry Orchard again!” exclaimed a guest excitedly at one of our recent Cider Exploration & Tasting Nights. Music to our ears. Sorry Angry Orchard…nothing personal, we just think the mass prevalence and availability of sweet, sticky ciders is giving cider a bad rap! We want to see more of the American craft cider revolutionaries on the shelves and in our bars. Those brands that are digging deep into ciders roots and making dry, sometimes funky ciders that can stand up against any craft beer out there. Why? Because we think they’re deliciously awesome and that all of you will think so too if you can find them and know that they exists!
Cider Exploration & Tasting Nights
Hence these events we’ve started hosting here in San Francisco. We have another one coming up at The Gotham Club in AT&T Park on Friday, November 17th (find your Gotham Club member friend and join us!) and we recently had one at the Wingtip Club that was a smashing success. Why? Because we turned cider skeptics into enthusiasts! For example, let’s go back to this woman who said she’d never drink Angry Orchard again. To be fair, it’s not like she was drinking much of it to begin with…because she didn’t really like it all that much. But occasionally she wanted something a little lighter or even gluten free (hello no beer-belly-bloat drinking!). So she’d grab whatever cider was available…usually mass marketed and sweeter varieties. And every time she’d drink it she’d be pretty disappointed. So, while she was interested in cider, she had to admit that she didn’t really like it. Until The Crafty Cask showed her and our other guests how different and delicious ciders can truly be!
Joining me at the event, I had three amazing local craft cider producers…Brad Yager from Leaky Barrel Ciders, Kylor Williams from Far Cider and Darek Trowbridge from Trowbridge Ciders. In addition to their own ciders, we also brought along a classic French, Spanish, British and Canadian cider so we could really talk through regional differences as well.
Tasting Our Way Around the World
So we started our evening with a little cider history and geography lesson by tasting our way around the world. While enjoying each cider, we discussed the historical and regional implications on the resulting styles that we sipped. Which set us up nicely to understand how American cider became so sweet compared to the origins of cider. For those of you craving a little history or geogrpahy lesson of your own check out our posts Cider: The Down and Dirty Truth and Ciders of the World: A Boozy Geography Lesson.
Sipping Local CA Craft Ciders
Next we jumped into each of our local craft producers’ ciders and spent some time with each cider maker talking through their unique philosophy on making cider and the impact that philosophy has on their ciders. As we tasted through all of the ciders guests also had a fun little tasting web to plot what they were tasting in each cider so they could start to identify what they liked and didn’t like about each cider. Why is that important? Well, unfortunately most of the small-batch, craft ciders out there are pretty hard to find with typically only regional distribution. And while we all certainly wanted our guests to find a new cider or two that they liked from the ones we tasted, more importantly we wanted to help arm them with the information and language they needed to go to bars and bottle shops wherever they live and describe what kind of cider they liked so that they could start drinking it more often whether they knew the brands or not. You know, like we all do so regularly with wine!
Next, we all revisited our favorite ciders while socializing with the cider makers. Our guests also had the opportunity to buy bottles of the cider that they liked, which was fantastic since even if you live in the Bay Area these three local ciders aren’t the easiest bottles to find!
Join in on the Fun
So do you want to up your cider game? Or maybe give cider another shot if you’ve been burned (or shall we say sugared) by it in the past? Then join us for one of our custom craft Cider Exploration & Tasting Nights! If you live in Bay Area you’ll have to find a friend who’s a member at The Gotham Club for our next one on Friday November, 17th since it’s a members-only location…but it’s a pretty pimp location with a great night of fun, tasty content so we think it’s worth the effort! If you don’t live in the Bay Area but you’d like us to host an educational and immersive event at your favorite bar or club featuring local, craft producers of cider (or any other alcohol) just reach out here. Whether you join us or not, get out there and start experimenting with cider! It’s the current apple of our eye (sorry!) and, once armed with a little of the information found here in our cider section, we’re sure it will be you’re new favorite drink too.
As you explore come back and post in the comments below to let us know what you think and what you’re finding out there that we should check out ourselves. And, of course, if you attended our Wingtip event or attend our upcoming Gotham Club event let us know what you thought below or on Yelp.