Vermont Cider Weekend: CiderStock

Like any trip, you expect us to bring you the best cider and cider news.  Our weekend getaway to CiderStock hosted by Woodchuck Cider was one thing, EPIC!  We drank ciders, ate great food, met awesome people, and saw the legendary Roots crew play live to an audience of 8000+ people.  If that does not get you excited, I am afraid you have the heart of a robot.  You will never feel the warmth of human emotion!

As we dig into the details from takeoff to landing we must first confess something.  Two years ago, we visited Ciderstock and our love for cider and the culture it brought were born, launching our interest in a cider blog.  It was both our new found passion and exploration for drier and more diversified cider that helped created CiderScene as it is today.  Yes, even the great Tony Stark had to build his suit of armor, and our armor was born from Woodchuck cider.

Our venture began with a flight out of O’Hare Airport in Chicago to Burlington, Vermont, which is about an hour away from Woodchuck’s cidery.  We had a small window of time before our driver picked us up so we scooted over to meet with Cheray, the marketing manager from Citizen Cider at their cidery.  Their place is nestled in the landscape of Burlington and displays a distinctive charm and energy.  We were there around lunchtime and the place was quite busy at that hour.  We sat down with Cheray and discussed Citizen’s cider and a deeper understanding of the general Vermont cider culture while enjoying their coriander cider.  Let us note this coriander cider was both delicate and flavorful, we highly recommend it if you are in the area. A balance of floral essence, carbonation, and sweetness to tie it in a nice bow.

She then gave us a tour of the facility, which was not only impressive but also shows the growth and passion their team delivers.  Their facility was full of product, tanks wrapped in sleeves to aid in their stop fermentation process, staff members hustling, a general air of energy that excites cider fans, and, outside of customer’s sight,  was the original location of their bar.  They have kept it around to not only remember themselves where they started but is also a nice talking point for the tour and location for promotional videos and pictures.  If you are in Burlington, you need to stop over here and see this place!  You will respect the product you drink more for this, we promise you that. And I would be remised to not mention that they have a truly original bar with an interior and exterior than would stand on its own without good products being pumped through.  As we had to quickly pack up, Cheray let us leave with a few bottles of their cellar product line for drinking over the weekend.

With that wrapped up, we hopped into a cab and got back to the airport to take another transit to Middlebury.  After a beautiful drive through the countryside of Vermont, we arrived at the Middlebury Inn, a historic hotel, located in the downtown area.  We had a quick check-in and rest before we headed to our list of events set up by Woodchuck.  

The first stop was the cidery itself for the pre-party to Ciderstock.  We met with a few representatives from the company and grabbed a cider to drink.  If you have not been to Woodchuck’s location, there is a taproom where you can sample every cider variety they offer, sit and relax, and look through their merchandise.  Upstairs is a self-guided tour that outlines Woodchuck’s history since the early 1990’s as well as a look at their production facilities.  The scale of the operation is quite impressive and is a great location for any cider fan or cider maker to see.  

After this sampling, we went all over town to eat food and drink cider at a few popular Middlebury watering holes.  After a slight inebriation, we headed back to the hotel to get a good night’s sleep before the main festivities on Saturday.

Saturday began with some Citizen Cider and a free breakfast of bacon. Bacon and cider are a meal for the gods. Forget ambrosia salad!  We both wandered around town exploring the hidden treasures of Middlebury such as the waterfall. Honestly, this town is all about eating or drinking.  In short, this is a sleepy little town but it has a lot of charm and their art scene is alive and well.

We wandered towards the festival around the afternoon time but had to stop for a beer first to cleanse the palate.  We had to stop over at the local brewery Otter Creek Brewery.  We have been here before in our past visit and, since then, there were some improvements to the facility and more beer options.  We had their Backseat Berner IPA and the Orange Dream Cream Ale while we snacked on some pretzels and house made crackers (made from the leftover brewing grains).  Their beers are both well crafted and delicious. The staff was killer, being both friendly and helpful when looking over the menu options.  We finished up and hit our ultimate location, CiderStock.  

As we walked into the event, we saw large writing boards to draw with chalk, merchandise tents, food trucks, and cider.  In our trip package, we were given food and drink tickets to help us enjoy the event.  We snagged some great food and the driest cider we could find and ventured to the stage to listen to some music. Coming from the Midwest, there is always a little culture shock in this area.  There are a lot more “earthly” individuals in this region and it is a part of being in this region that we enjoy.  The music choice was fitting for the event with bands such as The Welterweights, Tribal Seeds, and Pepper.  Our main interest was in The Roots, which happens to be one of our favorite bands and is a well-received group with many years of performance under their belt.  

With ciders in hand, we got close to the stage as The Roots took the stage (you can see some flashes of their performance in our video).  It was nothing short of amazing, throwing in some classics, some old songs, a few covers, and many genres of music.  At one point, they drop into an EDM-inspired dance party that changed the show’s pace and energy for a great finish.  After some of their biggest songs, the band walked off the stage and the fireworks began to fly over the fields of CiderStock, culminating a great bro’s weekend in Vermont.  

The last notable thing in our Vermont trip was some great early morning biscuits and gravy and the Burlington airport’s restaurant, pulling all local ingredients to hit those early morning taste buds before we headed back to Chicago.  

Not only was this a great trip for the sake of a cider adventure, but it was also a great experience for anyone who has yet to go to CiderStock.  We recommend you make your way out to Vermont next year for a weekend and check out what it has to offer, including many of the great cideries we did not get a chance to visit yet in person. See another recent adventure that we enjoyed.

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    • Andy
    • August 31, 2017
    • Reply

    Love Woodchuck Cider, this is the first Ciderstock we’ve missed, but feel like over the 4 years it’s been around it went from being a cider festival with live music to a concert that had some cider. The first cpl of years they would have all their ciders at the ready, and last year they only had the most popular few (Firkin Frenzy aside) that we could get in any supermarket.

      • September 2, 2017
      • Reply

      We agree I would love to see some other special ciders for the event or perhaps some collaborations. Unfortunately, they go with just the best sellers.

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