Talk about history. Founded in Natick, Massachusetts, in 1651, the Belkin Family Lookout Farm is one of the oldest farms still in operation in the United States. Celebrating their 365th year of consecutive farming, owner Jay Mofenson and his team look forward to a fruitful year, both in the aspects of fruit farming and their newest operation, hard cidermaking.
Cider hadn’t always been a staple at Lookout Farm. It wasn’t until Mofenson, who is married to one of the Belkin’ daughters, took over ownership of the farm two years ago and thought crafting and selling hard cider would be a great way to extend their farming season. The ability to produce cider and invite visitors to their taproom year-round would prove beneficial over the winter months.
Mofenson says farming today is a tough business. In addition to the seasonal aspects of farming, there is a lot of competition from overseas producers, so Mofenson and his team wanted to a find a way to get ahead of the curve. Cue cider.
On a farm that grows 29 different varieties of apples, it is easy for the Lookout Farm Hard Cider to craft many variations of ciders. Currently, they have experimented with up to 16 different versions. At any time in the taproom you can find four different ciders, the Farmhouse Blend remains on tap at all times, and a seasonal cider usually occupies one of the four taps.
Mofenson says the Farmhouse Blend is a great go-to cider for introductory cider drinkers. It is made with four different apples grown on the farm and combines raw honey and yeast to create its robust flavor, he says.
“Cider is a very versatile beverage,” Mofenson notes. “It is a playground for creativity.”
This creativity is visibly noticeable in Lookout Farm’s seasonal blends of cider. A favorite among the staff is the Pumpkin Patch, crafted with homegrown sugar pumpkins, locally-sourced coriander, nutmeg and three different apples from the farm.
For Lookout Farm, Mofenson says the transition to cider was natural and easy. Sunday, June 12, marked the one-year anniversary of distribution for the brand, and more than 1,600 barrels of cider were sold during that year.
“My mandate was to secure the future of the farm and cider helps us do that,” he says.
The team at Lookout Hard Cider, consists of five people, making it a very cooperative work environment with an emphasis on teamwork. Mofenson describes the operation as having an “all-hands on deck attitude.” Every experience is a team-building exercise, he says.
Currently, Lookout Farm’s cider can only be found in Massachusetts and Rhode Island, both in 12-ounce bottles and kegs, but Mofenson wants to see the cider become a main-stay throughout New England. “We want to stick to our roots; we don’t have a desire to be a national brand. We want to be an established producer of high quality local hard cider recognized throughout our area.”