Angry Orchard 2015 First Flora

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The attractively bottled 2015 First Flora highlights the work of Angry Orchard and head cidermaker Ryan Burk’s work in the…

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The state, province or region might be listed on the label of your cider, but where exactly does all the fruit come from that is in the bottle? Virtue Cider knows — with its Orchard Series ciders, the Michigan cidery can track precisely where the fruit comes from, in a partnership with a handful of multigenerational family farmers.

Both the Columbia River Gorge and the Hood River Valley are synonymous with orcharding, from cherries and chestnuts to apples and pears — the nation’s largest region of pear-growing, to be precise, producing over 50 percent of America’s Anjou pears and 11 percent of the Bartletts. Newtown Pippins also are revered from this region, along with juicy, bouncy cherries, like those found in The Gorge White House‘s Cherry cider.

Towering oak and pine trees fill the foothills of the Cuyamaca Mountains, padded with grass meadows and speckled by long-serving apple orchards that lead into the hamlet of Julian, California. Time seems slower in a town legendary for rowdy gold mining history and apple pie, despite its location just an hour northeast of San Diego.

One of four in the standard selection from Anthem — the slight more modish and accessible kid sister cider label from Wandering Aengus Ciderworks in Salem, Oregon — the Pear cider is a blend of culinary pears from Hood River, Oregon. Overripe and juicy pear is the dominant aroma straight out of the can, with whiffs of orchard flower, pear skin, earth and red apple framing the edges.

Farmlife in Central Washington, like many places, is one of utilization. In springtime, when everything is blooming and the bees are buzzing, the team at Tieton Cider Works begins brainstorming about what ingredients to add to their farm-based seasonal cider line, a program launched to curate to the Yakima cidery’s consumer demand. This year, the characteristics of spring were all they needed for inspiration: flowers and honey to create the Lavender Honey.

Fun fact: over 300 hundred breweries call Colorado home. This boils down to 10 percent of the United States’ brewery total, from a state that only clocks in for 2 percent of the country’s population. The Denver metro area boasts nearly 100 breweries, so it would make sense that Denver-based cideries would aim to quench the thirst of the masses with hopped beverages of their own.

When Bud and Mary Shelton retired and built a home on a small farm in Virginia’s Albemarle County, it was unlikely they knew the North Garden property would turn into one of the more respected vintage apple farms in Appalachia. With 20 fruit trees as the original orchard, two of their children, Charlotte and Chuck, took the site next level after attending several heirloom apple tastings conducted by apple legend Tom Burford.

The Bramley apple variety is a rarity in North America. Almost exclusive to the United Kingdom with a storied history of its own (the original tree hails from accidental planting by a young girl), the apple is grown in minuscule counts here — something 1859 Cider Co. in Salem, Oregon, saw as a peerless opportunity to ferment.

Community is big in Portland, Oregon. The local food and drink movement here fuels much of the craft beverage machine, with the majority of beer drinkers consuming Oregon-made beers and Portland regularly listing in the top three cider-drinking cities in the United States. Bringing together local and beverage, the team at Cider Riot! is adding another collaboration to its catalog, the Lullaby of London.

 
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