The International Brewing & Cider Awards: New Manchester Location & Public FestivalNovember 6, 2023
In the last seven years, our personal lives have been intimately tied to the cider world. From engagements to vacations to weekend get-togethers, we’ve been to cideries all across the country and made memories around hard cider. CiderScene was born out of a sort of necessity. Trevor & I were looking for a way to stay connected when I moved states away. We had ideas for a beer blog or a small business but always had a soft spot for hard cider. It was then we decided to venture forth and bring attention to the world of cider, especially in the Midwest and southeastern parts of the country where there wasn’t much coverage. We scoured the local liquor stores for any new ciders on the shelves. Blake’s Hard Cider, Stem Cider, Diskin Cider, Austin Eastciders, Virtue Cider, Gypsy Circus, and so many, many more. We tasted and savored each opportunity to discover and celebrate these cidermakers, large or small.
With such a journey, we have seen the chapters of our lives turn over. We are now both fathers with beautiful baby girls, wives, and extremely busy lives. With so much change and added responsibility, we have decided to move on from CiderScene and we are looking for an organization or cider enthusiast to take the reins.
For now, let’s revisit some of our best cider memories. These come from either Nolan’s or Trevor’s perspective.
Finnriver Farm & Cider (WA):
Finnriver is an organic farm and artisan cidery making great hard ciders and wines near Seattle. Not only was this one of the first ciders that we tried that was not Angry Orchard or Woodchuck, it was also the place where I, Trevor, got engaged to my wife. On a trip to the Seattle area to visit my sister I planned on the engagement as it is a beautiful area with a vast farm landscape and rolling hills on the horizon. Their facility is both rustic and modern with their updated seating area that is outdoor with a vast view. We enjoyed some drinks before venturing out into the farm to pop the question, she was quite surprised and we came back to a bubbly bottle ready to celebrate with. The team was accommodating with my request and it was a perfect place to take the next step while enjoying a great product. If you are in the area it is a must-stop and get a flight. This truly is a place that is tied to our cider journey and pinnacle life moments. We even got the same bottle to bring to our wedding down in the Dominican to celebrate the next step of our journey.
Woodchuck’s CiderStock (VT):
Our cider journey did really start with Woodchuck Cider like most other cider drinkers in the US. Nolan was the one to start drinking it in college and Trevor was not far behind. We had the opportunity to win a trip to CiderStock early on in CiderScene’s history when they had a Gumption contest. This was to celebrate the launch of their Gumption line and we had to create a video entry showing our gumption. We decided on a cooking video that used the cider and we were selected as one of the winners while our friend also entered and won. We were able to bring another person with us so Nolan, Trevor, Trevor’s then-GF Kim, and friend Kyle went on an adventure to Middlebury. The trip was packed with gorgeous Vermont scenery, ciders, and food. The weekend wrapped up with a large concert featuring Cage the Elephant. We were able to go back to CiderStock two more times, years later which was just as entertaining. This was a great opportunity to drink the product that got us into the cider world and see a large-scale cidery in operation.
NY Cider Trip:
In 2021, we decided to venture off on a cider-focused trip with our wives. We have been to various cider-central areas like Michigan, the PNW, and the Upper East Coast. With that in mind, we decided to see what New York had to offer. We started in Buffalo and made our way across the state hitting cideries and restaurants on the way. Some of the highlights from the trip included seeing Angry Orchards taproom which has their small batch products, visiting the Finger Lakes Cider House, and trying a ton more cider. It was a great experience taking an old-school road trip and seeing the beautiful scenery of NY. This wine and cider were top notch and the towns we visited were full of great food and relaxing time. We did also visit the Fingerlakes for some kayaking and wine tasting. Below is a list of cideries we were able to try.
- Blackbird Cider Works
- Fingerlakes Cider House
- Kite & String
- Angry Orchards Innovation ciders
- Rockland Ciderworks
- Brooklyn Cider House
We ended the trip by meeting with some cider folks in NYC and had a few drinks to cap off the trip. Overall, this is something a cider lover needs to do, and make sure to grab some Duff’s wings and stop at Sojo Spa near NYC.
I, Nolan, was planning an engagement trip but didn’t have a plan fully set. As it was customary to take several small trips a year, I packed up the ring in a very hidden location and we set off to Denver for a few days. This trip was put under the guise of a cider and food extravaganza with some hiking and sightseeing in equal parts. After a Mexican wrestling festival, some local eats, and a trip to a few cideries including C Squared Cider and Stem Cider’s RHINO location, we went for a hike. After a long walk in high elevations we weren’t used to, I asked Christine to marry me. I luckily set up an excellent dinner at Stem Cider’s Acreage location in Lafayette, Colorado (North of Denver). We grabbed some ciders, took a private tour of their barrel room, and enjoyed some excellent cuisine. The location had an open kitchen where flames and smells were aplenty. After we enjoyed our meal, we grabbed a cider and sat outside with one of the best sunsets in all of Colorado. Several groups were enjoying small talk in lawn chairs while watching the sun fall behind the mountains. I’ve never enjoyed a meal and cider in such an environment and it was the perfect engagement dinner.
Indianapolis Cider Trip:
We always did our best to get friends into the world of cider. After a year or two, we were able to find the perfect event for our friends. In a short trip to Indianapolis, a halfway point between our group of friends in Chicago and our Nashville, TN group, we took on the cider within the region at New Day Craft’s Meadful Things and Outciders Festival. This was definitely the largest event we’ve been to outside of Cider Summit in Chicago that was dedicated specifically to cider and mead. We would have a group of eight tasting, enjoying, and eventually buying cider. This festival was our first real deep dive into the world of mead, but it also introduced us to so many new cideries like New Day Craft, Ash & Elm, Misbeehavin Mead, Starcut Cider, and more. We enjoyed this event so much that we would return every year we could and enjoyed the sights and sounds of the city including dining at The Eagle. Like most of the Midwest cideries, we were able to give some exposure to some of the cidermakers that weren’t covered by other cider media outlets. Just one of the best times with friends enjoying cider and appreciating everything it has to offer.
We had two amazing opportunities to make collaborative ciders with some talented cidermakers. Our first collaboration was with Stowe Cider out of Vermont with our Newtown Twist. Newtown Twist was an ode to a classic apple-forward cider with a twist of lemon and lime for a more modern appeal. Trevor & I were able to visit the taproom and cidery, meet the staff, and learn each step in the process of their cidermaking.
Our second collaboration was with Stormalong Cider. We released a banger with POG Punch, a fruited cider. POG Punch was inspired by the classic Hawaiian beverage made from passionfruit, orange, and guava juice. Their team was an absolute delight to work with and this was a delicious, crushable cider!