If you haven’t heard, it’s Cider Week in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The six-day citywide revelry of cider, particularly those from Michigan, kicked off Monday and coincides with the 12th annual Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition, the world’s largest cider judging this weekend. About 10 miles east of Grand Rapids is the township of Ada, home to the trees of Sietsema Orchards and Cider Mill. The multigenerational operation has been farming these fields outside of the big city since the 1940s, with about 10 culinary apples and nearly 30 heirloom varieties, adding hard cider to its production in 2011.
One of the four mainstay ciders, the Traditional (also known as the Yellow Label) is the family’s spin on classic American cider. The fourth generation growers ferment a select batch of estate heirloom apples with Champagne yeast to create a full-bodied and carbonated mouthfeel. The dry sipper flaunts whiffs of farmhouse funk, almost reminiscent of sidra, with light apple skin and leaf aromatics rolling into the palate of striking acid, mild tartness and citrus flavors. Given its evocation of tart and tangy Spanish cider, a sharp sheep’s milk cheese or braised pork would make worthy adversaries to contrast and complement the cider.