So, I wanted to learn a bit more about our state's first hard cidery, so I traveled to Lewisburg to meet with the owners of Hawk Knob Cidery and Meadery.
And, I will have a column coming out in Sunday's paper about our history with hard cider and what these folks are up to, so be on the lookout for that.
These folks have opened up the state's first hard cidery - something we're lagging a bit behind on in this state considering hard cider is the fastest growing segment of the alcohol industry. But Josh & Will are blazing that trail, and doing so in the most traditional, local way possible by sourcing local apples and working with local producers.
So, I was fortunate in getting to talk with these guys, learn about their craft and get to sip it with them. Nothing better than that.
Appalachian Classic Hard Cider - The only one not aged in a bourbon barrel. This is green fruit-oriented, pretty crisp and light. Very refreshing. Lots of tart green apple flavors on this one.
Appalachian Classic Bourbon Barrel Aged Hard Cider - This is the same cider as the previous one; just goes through the most extensive barrel aging procedure. It gets some bold bourbon characteristics and loses a lot of the tart green apple flavor and picks up a lot of the butter notes from the barrel. It's almost like a chardonnay-like butteriness with some dark cherry on the finish.
Wild Fermented Traditional Hard Cider - This is made the traditional way of making cider back in the 1700s. It uses wild fermentation, as well as red wine and champagne yeast. But, they do a barrel fermentation where the wild yeast on the skin of the apple does the work. It's a really round, smooth flavored cider with some butter flavors and bold flavors from the wild yeast. A little dark cherry on the finish with some vanilla and hints o bourbon.
Elderberry Infused Hard Cider - This blends two Appalachian traditions - cider and elderberries. Elderberries are steeped in the cider, which gives it a lot of color, aromatics and some red fruit flavor. The berry flavor is pretty subtle, but is pretty complex.
Cherry Hard Cider - This is the newest addition and the first under the Headwater Series, where they plan to release small-batch ciders. It has a light bourbon and oak flavor, and that tart cherry is present and pretty fruity, tart finish. It's still dry and packs a punch at 12% alcohol.
The ciders are dry enough to pair well with fatty meals to cut through all of that. If you're used to Woodchuck or Angry Orchard, this is totally different. It's dry and not full of additional sweeteners or sulfites. It's natural and delicious.
They will also be coming out with their mead any time now. They have one currently aging for two years -- and hope to have ones that will age even longer in the future -- that is a cyser. Pretty excited to get a taste of that when it's ready!
Have you been? Which cider is your favorite?