Fall is quickly approaching, which means it’s prime hard cider season. Whether you drink it year-round or seasonally, hard cider gives a sweet and refreshing finish compared to the alternative hop-heavy beers. Some say all hard ciders taste the same, but Angry Orchard continues to stand out amongst its competitors. Located in Walden, NY, this 60-acre orchard is home to 1.2 million pounds of hand-picked apples to ensure the highest quality. Ryan Burk, Head Cider Maker, has been passionate about cider-making since childhood and now wants to elevate the hard cider industry.
When asked why Angry Orchard stands out amongst its competitors, Burk stated, “The main component I like to focus on is the fruit. We want certain varieties to give us a certain character, and that rings true with the smallest batch of cider we make in our taproom, all the way up to Crisp Apple.” The “fruit” that Burk refers to is the apples that are grown on the 100-year-old orchard. During peak season, they use their home-grown Rome apples, some pressed Baldwin, and Rhode Island Greening apples from numerous parts of New York state. Burk’s use of oak barrels for their barrel-aging process also sets them apart from traditional ciders. Oak barrels, typically used for wine and spirits, are known for establishing a deeper flavor, color, and even aroma. By using old wine barrels, the aging process allows the cider to develop and mature into a more interesting, complex cider.
This fall, you can expect Angry Orchard to be experimenting with new and innovative ways of utilizing more obscure apple varieties from European descent. Burk couldn’t go into too much detail, but he also hinted at the possibility of new ciders that have been “aging long-term” and will finally be released in draft, cans, and bottles this upcoming season.