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Nine Pin Cider: Gathering of the Farm CideriesJanuary 30, 2018
Grand Rapids is known as a beer mecca in a region of the world that consumes copious amounts of brew. But, Michigan has always been rich with apples, and the cider culture grew steadily. From this, cideries have become a staple in the region.
Visiting friends in the region, we wanted to check out some of the cideries in person. Luckily, everything cider related is close or relatively close to downtown including Vander Mills, The Peoples Cider Co. and a little further out of town, Sietsema’s Orchards, and Farmhaus Cider. Of course, if you are not into cideries, you can certainly stop into a few great bars and restaurants to grab a cold one.
During our visit to Grand Rapids, we started with a tour at Vander Mill’s and noshed on some grub from their amazing menu. The facility, a new addition for the team, is placed right outside of downtown Grand Rapids and allows for larger production. The tour started at the bar on the production floor and a small cider sample. This is where the guide reviews all of the history of the cidery and how they got to where they are today. From there, we walked around the cider production tanks and make it to stop #2. The focus here was on Totally Roasted, which is a hot seller for Vander Mills. We were able to sample the cinnamon and pecans that they use to infuse with their cider. The flavors were incredible from the pecans and were like a sweet topping of a dessert, which comes through in the cider.
Then, we walked through the canning and machinery room, where they package their cider, and into the rear of the building that acts as storage. There were an incredible amount of barrels and bottles in back from their core products to their specialty offerings. This concluded the tour and we went upstairs with our complimentary glasses and token to get a free pint.
The cider selection is very diverse at this location because they have all of the core ciders, cyser series, and their heritage products. Each has a distinct focus and had many ciders in that category. For a full list of available ciders, click here.
Outside of the unique liquid products they offer, their food menu stands out on its own. We were lucky enough to speak with some of the team and take on their suggestion to try the ham & doughnuts. This intriguing dish had la quercia prosciutto, cider donuts, red barn cupola and apple butter. The sweetness of the butter and donuts paired well with the saltiness of the prosciutto and make for a perfectly balanced bite. The sophistication of flavors with the simplicity of the cider doughnuts made for a unique and memorable visit to their location. The staff was not only inviting but very knowledgeable and we were lucky enough to leave with two of their ciders to drink at home, so keep an eye out for a review soon!
Outside of our trip to Vander Mills, there were some must-hit locations in or around town. There are a few other cider locations such as Peoples Cider Co. and, depending on the time of year, you can visit Sietsema’s Orchards as we listed above. Peoples Cider Co, located off Leonard Street, is a smaller cidery with a focus on dry, drinkable ciders. The newer taproom offers so more space while allowing them more production room. Expect the ciders to get more diverse and more availability. There is also Sietsema’s Orchard, a family-owned orchard that produces offers typical orchard based pleasantries. They offer tours, have a large variety of apples, cider donuts, and treats, but they also make their own hard cider. These ciders can also be found at a few places around the Grand Rapids area.
Farmhaus Cider, just about 20 minutes from downtown Grand Rapids, offers some interesting cider flavors such as Raspolte and a Chai spice cider. During the warmer months, they also have a beautiful outdoor area to relax. There are also some other cideries in a decent proximity to Grand Rapids, but you can check out cidery map for these close locations!
If you are looking for some local restaurants and watering holes, we have some cider-centric suggestions! Hop Cat is a well-known Grand Rapids brew pub with a cider selection and creative pub fare. These have been growing in many major cities but this is OG location and a well-oiled machine. If you were looking for some delicious fries or mac and cheese, you are at the right place. Another great cider haven is Stella’s lounge, which is known for their award winning burgers. Not only can you get Vandermill’s here but you can also get some other Michigan based ciders like Blakes.