As 2022 draws to a close, we are taking a moment to reflect on the year. In our most “normal” year yet since 2020, we’ve seen so many of our member cideries getting back in the swing of things, with parties, events and other fun ways of engaging with their communities. We welcomed new members to the Guild, celebrated the announcement of the 2021 PA Farm Show Cider Competition winners, and launched a new website.
Another big milestone for the PA Cider Guild was receiving an educational grant from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board. This funding enabled us to develop four approachable cider-based informational and recipe videos, as well as The PA Cider Style Guide on our blog, aimed at increasing consumer understanding of the various styles and characteristics of hard cider. Two of the articles delve into how cider is made, both in cideries and, for the DIY types, at home! We also developed content around the concepts of cider tourism, hoping to acquaint Pennsylvanians with the cideries that populate every corner of the Commonwealth.
Here’s a bit more information about the articles we created as part of our PLCB grant:
PA Cider Style Guide
We kicked things off with this seven-article series; each blog post takes a deep dive into a specific cider style:
- Traditional Cider: High-tannin ciders with lots of complexity.
- Modern Cider, Sweet & Dry: Easy-drinking cider, usually made with culinary/dessert apples.
- Fruit Cider: Any cider with additional fruits included.
- Sour Cider: Intentionally sour ciders that use non-standard yeasts and bacterial fermentation.
- Hopped & Spiced Cider: Cider with hops and/or spices added.
- Wood-Aged Cider: Cider fermented and/or aged in a wooden barrel.
- Dessert Cider: Sweet, higher-ABV cider for after-dinner sipping.
We also developed a quick video introduction to PA cider styles, perfect for sharing on social media. The other videos we developed include a quick guide to PA cider and food pairings, and recipe videos for PA cider cheese dip and a blackberry cider cocktail.
Many consumers don’t have a grasp on the basics of cider making, so we dedicated two separate blog posts to the topic. In the first, we chat with Kerry McKenzie, co-owner of Hale & True Cider Co. in Philadelphia about how cider is made on a professional scale.
He starts by explaining how apples and juice are sourced and the methods that cider makers use to inoculate the juice with yeast to start fermentation; there is also some lightly scientific info about how fermentation works. McKenzie then shares how the cider is filtered, carbonated and packaged.
In a separate blog post about home cider making, Olga Dressler, co-owner of Dressler Estate in Downingtown, PA, guides us through both her own story as a cider hobbyist-turned-pro, and through the ins and outs of how to make cider at home. She shares her insights on what equipment and gear to buy, how to find quality juice, best practices for sanitization and temperature control. This article is a great primer for anyone who is interested in dabbling in the art of home fermentation.
The Pennsylvania Cider Trail
To encourage PA residents to explore the bounty of Pennsylvania cider, we created The Pennsylvania Cider Trail, a comprehensive list of all of the PA Cider Guild members across the state.
The trail is divided into three regional sections — Western, Central and Eastern — with stops all along the way, at both relaxing countryside cideries and bustling urban cider tasting rooms. We hope to help local cider fans discover new brands, and inspire some cider-centered tourism, as many of these cideries are near other attractions. We also compiled a separate list of the urban cideries in PA, which source local juice and fruit and make cider on-site.
The PA Cider Guild would like to thank the PLCB for awarding the PA Cider Guild this grant to help spread awareness of Pennsylvania’s cider industry. We are grateful for the chance to create and share educational materials, which will hopefully be helpful resources for our members, and other publications and agencies, to continue telling the unfolding story of PA cider.