Cider Salutation: Yoga at Sociable

The hour-long Vinyasa class will be lead by instructor Sofia Lorraine. Beginners and advanced are all warmly welcome.

The $25 entry fee includes a one-hour yoga class plus one flight of cider. Plus, resident food truck Red River Kitchen will be cooking up some delicious brunch menu’s that will be accompanied by “cidermosas” and cider bloody’s.

Space is limited, pre-registration is strongly encouraged; drop-ins welcome (as space allows), mats not provided.

Cider Salutation: Yoga at Sociable

The hour-long Vinyasa class will be lead by instructor Sofia Lorraine. Beginners and advanced are all warmly welcome.

The $25 entry fee includes a one-hour yoga class plus one flight of cider. Plus, resident food truck Red River Kitchen will be cooking up some delicious brunch menu’s that will be accompanied by “cidermosas” and cider bloody’s.

Space is limited, pre-registration is strongly encouraged; drop-ins welcome (as space allows), mats not provided.

Cider Salutation: Yoga at Sociable

The hour-long Vinyasa class will be lead by instructor Sofia Lorraine. Beginners and advanced are all warmly welcome.

The $25 entry fee includes a one-hour yoga class plus one flight of cider. Plus, resident food truck Red River Kitchen will be cooking up some delicious brunch menu’s that will be accompanied by “cidermosas” and cider bloody’s.

Space is limited, pre-registration is strongly encouraged; drop-ins welcome (as space allows), mats not provided.

Cider Salutation: Yoga at Sociable

The hour-long Vinyasa class will be lead by instructor Sofia Lorraine. Beginners and advanced are all warmly welcome.

The $25 entry fee includes a one-hour yoga class plus one flight of cider. Plus, resident food truck Red River Kitchen will be cooking up some delicious brunch menu’s that will be accompanied by “cidermosas” and cider bloody’s.

Space is limited, pre-registration is strongly encouraged; drop-ins welcome (as space allows), mats not provided.

Boxstore Bird Fall Music Series

This fall, we’ll be welcoming Boxstore Bird into the Sociable Cider Werks taproom for an intimate series every Wednesday night. From 7:30PM to 8:30PM you can head on over to the taproom and hear songs from their new album, “Dirt Makes Pretty,” as well as your old favorites.

Boxstore Bird is heritage Americana, a delightful mix of americana, bluegrass, and storytelling that will hook you with a rare kind of songwriting.

This lyrically driven project was born out of a desire to create a different kind of musical experience–one in which the audience and artist can connect through a song and a story. Frontman Drew Peterson has been writing songs for over 20 years, and his lyrics have the power to pull you in and hold you there in anticipation of the story’s conclusion. He will be accompanied by Mandy Fassett, an incredibly talented musician who will blow you away with her fiddle, cello, and mandolin solos.

 

Barrel Aged All Hallows Eve

Get yourself on over to the Barrel Aged All Hallows Eve party at Sociable. We’ve got a full day of festivities planned, starting with fun for the little ones from 2pm to 6pm, and then, after you drop them off at the babysitters, we’ll be getting rowdy with the release of our Rum Barrel Aged Freewheeler.

HALLOWS EVE FOR KIDS (2-6pm):
Bring the kiddos by for a family friendly afternoon of pumpkin carving, bobbing for apples, trick or treating, smores and some good old fashion alcohol free cider! (Don’t worry, the good hard stuff will still be available for those 21 plus kids too).

HALLOWS EVE FOR ADULTS:
Costume contest, sweet tracks (including the Monster Mash) from DJ Hazy Harold, and the first taste of Rum Barrel Aged Freewheeler.

Food Truck: Red River Kitchen • City House

Stay connected with the Facebook event page for updates.

Boxstore Bird Fall Music Series

This fall, we’ll be welcoming Boxstore Bird into the Sociable Cider Werks taproom for an intimate series every Wednesday night. From 7:30PM to 8:30PM you can head on over to the taproom and hear songs from their new album, “Dirt Makes Pretty,” as well as your old favorites.

Boxstore Bird is heritage Americana, a delightful mix of americana, bluegrass, and storytelling that will hook you with a rare kind of songwriting.

This lyrically driven project was born out of a desire to create a different kind of musical experience–one in which the audience and artist can connect through a song and a story. Frontman Drew Peterson has been writing songs for over 20 years, and his lyrics have the power to pull you in and hold you there in anticipation of the story’s conclusion. He will be accompanied by Mandy Fassett, an incredibly talented musician who will blow you away with her fiddle, cello, and mandolin solos.

 

Minnesota Cider Fair 2017

To celebrate the arrival of fall and peak cider season, the MN Cider Guild is throwing a party: the second-annual Minnesota Cider Fair, taking place Sunday, October 22, at Minnesota Harvest Apple Orchard.

Cideries from around the state will set up shop at the idyllic 330-acre orchard to pour samples and chat with attendees about what’s going on in the world of Minnesota cider.

The day will include unique ciders from more than 12 local cideries, live music from The Federales and Ian Alexy and The Deserters, food trucks, non-alcoholic cider, and family-friendly activities like apple picking, wagon rides and a bonfire.

All-you-can-drink tickets include a souvenir tasting glass and are available for $30 on the event website, mnciderfair.weebly.com. Day-of, single-drink ticket packages will be sold at the orchard and are subject to availability.

Boxstore Bird Fall Music Series

This fall, we’ll be welcoming Boxstore Bird into the Sociable Cider Werks taproom for an intimate series every Wednesday night. From 7:30PM to 8:30PM you can head on over to the taproom and hear songs from their new album, “Dirt Makes Pretty,” as well as your old favorites.

Boxstore Bird is heritage Americana, a delightful mix of americana, bluegrass, and storytelling that will hook you with a rare kind of songwriting.

This lyrically driven project was born out of a desire to create a different kind of musical experience–one in which the audience and artist can connect through a song and a story. Frontman Drew Peterson has been writing songs for over 20 years, and his lyrics have the power to pull you in and hold you there in anticipation of the story’s conclusion. He will be accompanied by Mandy Fassett, an incredibly talented musician who will blow you away with her fiddle, cello, and mandolin solos.

 

Craft Cocktail: Fall Cide-Car at Lyn 65

Jami Olson at Lyn 65 // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

October means apples in the Upper Midwest. On your obligatory orchard trip in the next few weeks, consider snagging a jug of cider to mix into a seasonal cocktail.

We’ll let our friend Jami Olson, who you’ll find behind the bar at Lyn 65, explain:

“The change of seasons always inspires what’s on our menu, from the kitchen to the bar. I wanted to create a fall cocktail that was a bit more subtle than the pumpkin-spiced everything that you see this time of year. This cocktail lets you know that it’s fall, but is still well-balanced. With a love for classic cocktails, I realized that we haven’t had a sidecar on the menu in a while, if ever. I wanted to do a play on a traditional sidecar and twist it for the season.

“The best place to pick up apple cider for this is while you are at an orchard this fall. Get the fresh juice, usually found in the refrigerated section. Just like food, using high quality ingredients is key when making quality cocktails. I like to make a large amount of the cider syrup and find myself using it in all sorts of things. From diluting it in soda water to using it as an ice cream topping, it’s never going to be a bad idea to have some additional cider syrup on hand.”

Cide-Car at Lyn 65 // Photo courtesy of Lyn 65

Cide-Car at Lyn 65 // Photo courtesy of Lyn 65

Fall Cide-Car

2 ounces Cabin Still bourbon
3/4 ounce cider syrup*
3/4 ounce lemon juice
1/4 ounce simple syrup
1/4 ounce peach liqueur

Method
Shake all ingredients over ice, strain into a coupe glass, garnish with an apple wedge.

*To make the cider syrup: Simmer 1 gallon of cider on the stovetop over medium heat until it thickens into a syrup. This takes about 2 hours to boil down, or less if using a smaller quantity. Use high quality cider. Add in cloves, nutmeg, cinnamon sticks, and allspice to taste.

Apple blossoms mean Minnesota’s cider season is here

Blossoms on a Dolgo crabapple tree at Sweetland Orchard // Photo via Sweetland Orchard Facebook

Blossoms on a Dolgo crabapple tree at Sweetland Orchard // Photo via Sweetland Orchard Facebook

Apple orchards are beginning to bloom and that can only mean one thing: cider season is here.

Starting Friday, May 5, Number 12 Cider House’s taproom, located at Deer Lake Orchard in Buffalo, will be open for business on the weekends. Started by four couples, one of which owns Deer Lake Orchard, Number 12 is the maker of an English-style dry cider, a blackcurrant cider, and a semi-dry cider that features the Chestnut Crabapple developed by the University of Minnesota.

Down in Webster, Minnesota, Sweetland Orchard celebrated the bloom by inviting the public to visit on May 6, enjoy nature, chat with the owners, pack a picnic, and try some experimental ciders Sweetland has been working on.

Keepsake Cidery has taken advantage of the warm spring weather to plant the first trees of the year in their orchard. Varieties include Golden Russet, Roxbury Russet, Binet Rouge, and Medaille d’Or.

Milk & Honey Ciders has also been turning over earth this spring, breaking ground on a new cidery and taproom facility in St. Joseph, Minnesota. In addition to prepping the site for construction, Milk & Honey is planning to introduce two new ciders for the summer: Flora and Fauna.

In Minneapolis, construction is underway for a new tasting room at Urban Forage Winery and Cider House, founded by husband and wife Jeff and Gita Zeitler. While the renovations occur, the winery and cider house is still open for bottles sales on Fridays and Saturdays, with access through the side door.

Thirsty for more? This June, Minnesota Cider Week returns from June 5 through June 10 with opportunities to taste through some fine examples of craft cider. The newly formed Minnesota Cider Guild is putting on a sampling event to showcase different ciders being made in the state, as well as ciders from around the country. The Minnesota Craft Cider Festival will be taking place on June 10 at City House in St. Paul.

Minnesota Cider Guild incorporates, Cider Week planned for June 5–10

Local hard cider producers from around the state officially established the Minnesota Cider Guild on April 3rd.

“The Minnesota cider industry is very young, with the majority of cider makers launching their businesses within the last four years,” says guild president Gretchen Perbix of Sweetland Orchard. “We have tremendous support among our local consumer audiences, so by bringing together our collective ideas and talents, we will be able to continue to build interest, momentum, and consumption of our local ciders.”

Their first order of business is proclaiming Minnesota Cider Week for June 5–10, 2017, culminating with the Minnesota Craft Cider Festival, a cider-tasting with up to 50 different ciders from around the world, at Red River Kitchen at City House in St. Paul. Tickets are $30 and available on the Guild’s website.

Minnesota’s guilded age of cider

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2016 Minnesota Cider Fair at Minnesota Harvest in Jordan // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

Jim Morrison of Sapsucker Farms could barely keep up with the nearly 1,000 people who attended the Minnesota Cider Guild’s first-ever Cider Fair on Sunday in Jordan. He was surprised by the sheer number of people looking for a sip of his Yellow Belly Hard Cider, but also at how many times he heard someone claim that they could not believe cider could taste this way, or that it was their drink of choice.

“This has been really affirming, this many people coming out and having cider,” Morrison says over the constant rumbling of chatter.

These proclamations from hundreds of cider drinkers inside the rustic barn at Minnesota Harvest Orchard were common. The newly-formed Minnesota Cider Guild is made up of nearly 12 cideries (10 of which were in attendance on Sunday) consisting of voting member cideries and general member cideries based in Minnesota. The Guild hopes these kinds of events promote cider in multiple ways, and really wants to educate more people in the state on what Minnesota cider is all about.

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2016 Minnesota Cider Fair at Minnesota Harvest in Jordan // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

The event itself, hosted on the 300-acre Minnesota Harvest apple orchard, wasn’t your typical fest. A large campfire kept people warm, live music played just outside of the barn, peacocks and other animals roamed about, and hundreds of apple trees made it all feel a little magical.

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Number 12 Cider House at the 2016 Minnesota Cider Fair // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

“To have it focused on just cider is huge,” Peter Gillitzer of Milk & Honey Ciders says of Cider Fair.

And of course a diverse range of apples and cider were on display. After all, there’s an eclectic mix of cider in the market, similar to local wine and craft beer. For example, Keepsake Cidery poured Wild, which is all about wild and spontaneous fermentation, whereas Wyndfall Cyder had Homesteader on hand, a cider dry-hopped with centennial hops, giving it just a hint of bitterness and a faint citrus aroma.

“Promoting Minnesota cider and cider culture is, in a nutshell, what we’re doing,” Rob Fisk of Wyndfall Cyder and a member of the Guild says. “Cider sort of has some identity issues. It’s a new category that’s gaining a lot of steam, and it’s like, what can we [as the Guild] do to educate consumers, bar managers, retailers? Things like that.”

Fisk says chatter on forming a guild went on for close to a year. During those conversations it was apparent that the group needed to make it a priority to not let Minnesota cider be defined by larger, national brands or trends coming from the United Kingdom or West Coast.

Additionally, the Guild is hoping to focus on research.

“Every industry needs to develop at some point, and I think that those of us who are making cider—Minnesota-based cideries—agree that some kind of organization would be good so that we can promote Minnesota cider, but also develop the industry, mostly through research,” Gretchen Perbix of Sweetland Orchard says.

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2016 Minnesota Cider Fair at Minnesota Harvest in Jordan // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

Aside from Guild activities, Perbix authored a successful grant proposal that will likely impact cider in Minnesota.

The $32,165 grant from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture will fund the planting of 12 different varieties of cider apples, including Foxwhelp, Kingston Black, Ashmead’s Kernel, and more, at eight different sites across the state. Ten trees of each variety, split between different rootstocks, will be planted at each site, that range geographically from Preston in the south, to Duluth.

“Of the cidermakers in town, there’s a subset of orchard-based cideries, and for those folks, I think this grant is important. As well as for the orchards in town that would like to have, really, anything to do with the growing cidery industry,” Perbix says.

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Minnesota Harvest in Jordan // Photo by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

Most apples grown at Minnesota orchards are for eating, not cidermaking, and that’s a problem for cideries looking to stay local and explore new flavor profiles.

“We would like access to different varieties so we can make different ciders—ciders that are more akin to wine, I suppose would be an apt comparison,” says Perbix. “We’re looking for the apples that have more tannins, more polyphenols in them.”

After these apple trees are planted, Perbix plans on conducting a second stage of the grant where the fruit can be evaluated.

“This grant really is to assess the hardiness of the trees,” Perbix explains.

The new Guild, a successful first-time tasting event, and the implementation of the grant will all be a boon to a slowly but steadily growing industry in Minnesota.

“Maybe we’re no longer the stepchild between beer and wine,” ponders Morrison.

If the strides the industry is making are any indication, Minnesota cider is about to be as ubiquitous as the state’s craft beer.

Photos by Kevin Kramer, The Growler

Homebrew Recipe: Wyld Cyder

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Illustration by Jeff Nelson

There was an apocryphal bad frost centuries ago in Hessen, Germany that wiped out that year’s grape crop. The distraught winemakers turned to apples and they haven’t looked back since. That region is now the heartland of Apfelmost—a hard cider, fermented with the naturally occurring microbes on the fruit and extant from year to year on the presses or in the barrels of the cider house.

Meanwhile, in Asturias and the Basque region of northern Spain, the beverage of choice for the last several centuries hasn’t been Rioja wine but sidra, produced from native apple varieties and also fermented spontaneously with the wild yeasts on the fruit.

Other cidermaking traditions rely on wild yeast to power the ferment: the keeved and slow-fermented cidres of Normandy, and the powerful, funky, and heady English West Country ciders made from bitter apple varieties.

Taking a cue from these disparate traditions, this month’s project is an adventure in wild cider (or, with apologies to Bill and Ted, WYLD CYDER).

What makes it tick

Unfiltered and acidic, complex and musty; funky up front and whooshing to a palate-scouring dry finish. Fans of gueuze and saison will find a lot to like here, while drinkers only familiar with the much, much sweeter mass-market American hard ciders are in for a Timothy Leary–grade mind expansion.

Many wild ciders are produced from heirloom or landrace cider (not table) apple varieties. But many little farmhouse operations also would have used whatever they had on hand, so there’s no reason not to pick up whatever your local orchard is throwing down.

The alcohol content of naturally-fermented ciders varies with the sugar content of the apples (in keeping with the precepts of non-interference, these wild ciders are not supplemented with any exogenous sugars), but usually clock in at 4–6% ABV.

A recipe to try

Wyld Cyder
Target OG: variable, depending on harvest. Let’s plan for 1.045–1.055

Shopping list

If using fresh fruit and spontaneous fermentation:

  • 5 gallons fresh, unpasteurized apple juice
  • A pack of yeast for backup—see Key Points, next page

If using pasteurized or store-bought juice and lab yeast:

  • 5 gallons preservative-free natural apple juice
  • Your choice of yeast—see “Don’t necessarily g-g-gotta be fresh” in Key Points, below

Key points for key pints

• G-g-gotta be fresh. Source unpasteurized juice with no sulfites or other preservatives from a cider mill, or grind and press your own apples. The untreated fruit will contain a bolus of native microbes that we’ll harness to turn the juice into hard cider.

• Don’t kill the critters. Modern protocol would be to sulfite the freshly-pressed juice to nuke the wild yeasts from orbit and give the lab-cultured yeast a blank slate. Can’t do this with a spontaneous fermentation, so leave the Campden tablets in the drawer.

• Don’t necessarily g-g-gotta be fresh. If freshly-pressed untreated apple juice isn’t an option, just use store-bought juice (preservative-free). You will, however, need to add your own yeast. To approximate the effects of a wild fermentation, consider a commercial mixed culture—Wyeast Roeselare, or a farmhouse or lambic blend (e.g., Wy3278 or WLP670) would be good options.

• Have a backup plan. If the juice isn’t fermenting on its own after 48–72 hours, we’ll need to add yeast. If you don’t already have a spare pack of ale or wine yeast on hand, grab one before you get your juice.

• Cool temp for more aromatics. Traditionally, cider would have been fermented at harvest time when ambient temperatures were turning the corner from summer into autumn. Keeping the ferment somewhere around 60°F, plus or minus a handful of degrees, will suppress the rate of fermentation and therefore how much of the delicate fruit aromatics get carried out of our beverage along with CO2 gas.

¡Vamos Al Sidreia!

Spontaneous program:
Rack the freshly-pressed, no-sulfite juice into a sanitized fermenter; record the SG, then cover loosely with sanitized foil or an airlock, adjust to around 60°F, and let nature take its course. Nota bene—If no signs of fermentation are evident after 48–72 hours (foam, CO2 production, gravity drop) add the backup yeast.

Store-bought juice/non-funky program:
Decant the juice into a sanitized fermenter; record the SG, then cover loosely with sanitized foil or an airlock, adjust to around 60°F, and add the yeast of your choice.

Fermentation and beyond

1. Wild fermentations (or fermentations with a lab mixed culture) can be very slow affairs, especially conducted at +/- 60°F, so remain patient. Once gravity is stable and flavor is to your liking (acidity and dryness tends to increase with time), rack to secondary.

2. Allow to settle and clarify in secondary for a few weeks or months. You can stabilize the flavor profile to a lesser or greater degree via cold storage (microbes will go dormant below about 40–45°F) or a dose of sulfite (to inhibit or kill the microbes).

3. Once the cider has clarified to your liking, package it. Many traditional wild ciders are served still, but kegging will make it easy to serve sparkling. If you bottle a non-sulfite product, use crown- or cork-and-cage beer bottles to accommodate any pressure that may develop as a result of continued yeast activity.

Until next time: Drink it like you brewed it.

Cidermaker Profile: Rob Fisk of Wyndfall Cyder

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Rob Fisk // Photo by Aaron Davidson, The Growler

For most people, the word “spitter” evokes the thought of something unpleasant—angry llamas, perhaps, or individuals who require a little extra talking space if you want to stay dry. Not Rob Fisk. For him, the word means something beautiful, something high quality, something on which he’s built his life.

Spitters are the colloquial term for cider-specific apples. And Rob, owner and operator of Wyndfall Cyder, is adamant about bringing as many of them to Minnesota as possible, to make the best cider possible. “I want to make the highest-end product that I can,” he says. “We can make the best cider in the world in Minnesota with the right apples. The limits are endless.”

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Rob Fisk // Photo by Aaron Davidson, The Growler

We’re sitting in the hot June sun on the patio outside the Apple Lodge at Sponsel’s Minnesota Harvest Orchard, in Jordan, Minnesota. Minnesota Harvest is the new home of Wyndfall Cyder as of late this spring, and Rob has just finished installing his equipment in a large room behind the lodge’s industrial-sized kitchen. He had been operating in conjunction with an orchard in La Crescent, Minnesota, prior to the move, but saw an opportunity for more growth in Jordan.

Minnesota Harvest has been in operation since 1971 and is a popular events venue and pick-your-own orchard. The 300-plus acre orchard boasts some 35,000–40,000 apple trees, and the owners “buy as many [new trees] as they can afford” every year. It’s a sprawling, pastoral setting just 45 minutes from the Twin Cities, and so far is proving to be an ideal location for Wyndfall to put down roots.

In the few months he’s been at Minnesota Harvest, Rob has planted 75 trees of “bittersweets,” or English cider apples—aka the spitters. “They’re so tannic you can’t eat them off the tree,” he explains. “So they’re called spitters, because you’d spit them out.”

The tannins that make these apples inedible are also the key to making the drier, English-style ciders (or “cyders,” as it’s spelled in the U.K., hence Wyndfall Cyder’s spelling) Rob seeks to produce. Table apples are bred for a balance of tart, sweet, and texture, not tannin. Once you ferment out all the sugar, you’re left with a tartness that’s “off the charts,” Rob explains.

Cider apples, on the other hand, have a lot of tannins, like grapes. It’s those tannins that are responsible for a cider’s complexity and nuance. “There are lots of different layers once you ferment the sugar out,” Rob says. “Just like wine grapes don’t taste like grapes after fermentation, cider apples don’t taste like apples—they taste like tons of other things.”

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Sponsel’s Minnesota Harvest Orchard, in Jordan, Minnesota, is the new home of Wyndfall Cyder // Photo by Aaron Davidson, The Growler

Despite the similarities between cider and wine, most drinkers in the United States lump cider into the same category as beer: it’s generally lower in alcohol, has a similar mouthfeel, and is often packaged in similar ways. But that perception is starting to change. “The cider market in Minnesota is changing quickly,” Rob says. “Even in the one-and-a-half years since I’ve been in production it’s changed. But it’s still in its infancy relative to where we’re hoping it’ll go, […] which is to treat it like a fine wine.”

Rob first got into the fermentation game with beer, homebrewing with friends in college. He was studying environmental policy and forestry at the University of Minnesota at the time, and the more he learned about homebrewing, the more he started thinking about switching from beer to cider. “I was loving brewing, but then I started getting into the sustainability aspect of everything, and it was like a light bulb went off,” he says.

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Rob Fisk in Wyndfall’s new production space // Photo by Aaron Davidson, The Growler

That light bulb was Rob realizing the benefits orchards can have on the environment versus corn and bean-type crops. “If we sustained orchards and weren’t plowing all the time, we’d lessen erosion and runoff issues,” he says. “So I was thinking, ‘Okay, how do you do that sustainably and make money?’ And it was obvious: if you ferment the stuff, you can sell it for a lot more than if you’re just picking apples off the tree. Then I realized I could do what I was going to school for and my hobby at the same time.”

He returned to the University of Minnesota to get his master’s in horticulture, taking such classes as organic fruit production from professors like Jim Luby, the breeder of the Honeycrisp apple. While he learned a lot, his focus remained on cider apples and someday opening his own cidery.

Next page: Rob’s path to becoming a cidermaker