Ever since John Adams attributed his long and healthy life to a pre-breakfast tankard of hard apple cider, the fruity libation has remained Virginians’ drink of choice. The state’s cider industry has no intention of slowing down either as a handful of urban cideries were recently introduced to the Commonwealth’s already thriving population.
Buskey Cider, Courthouse Creek Cider and Bryant’s Small Batch Cider set the trend for second locations while Sly Clyde Ciderworks made its mark on Hampton history as Coastal Virginia’s first hard cidery. These new additions are among the 16 Virginia cideries participating in the 7th Annual Cider Week Virginia taking place from Friday, Nov. 9 to Sunday, Nov. 18.
Where to Celebrate Cider Week Virginia
Every year since 2012, Virginia has dedicated 10 full days to the celebration of everything cider. The annual toast to the historic craft beverage invites cider lovers to imbibe freely and explore Virginia’s renowned orchards. This year’s event lineup is chock-full of tastings, tap takeovers, workshops, release parties and exclusive pairing opportunities at boozy brunches, sophisticated dinners and cheese-centered happy hours.
Courthouse Creek’s Scott’s Addition location will host a cidermaking class, tasting room swap with Albemarle Ciderworks and several other events for cider lovers to view their urban facility. Presenting a similar slew of activities is Sly Clyde Ciderworks. Their efforts to bring distant Virginians to the coast extends beyond the tasting room and onto the nearby seashores with their communal cleaning event, Act Locally, Coastal Clean Up, on Saturday, Nov. 17.
The remainder of Cider Week celebrations will ensue at various venues throughout Washington, D.C., Harrisonburg, Timberville, Alexandria, Norfolk and more.
Ciders to Try
As a preview to the exceptional libations that will be pouring across the state, we sampled three handcrafted ciders from Blue Bee Cider, Bryant’s Small Batch Cider and Albemarle Ciderworks. Each bottle showcased the distinct bouquets of three Virginia apples and their unique contributions to the Commonwealth’s cider industry.
Blue Bee Cider Hewe’s Crab
Hewe’s Crab apples were highly favored by Founding Fathers George Washington and Thomas Jefferson. The apple varietal was prominent in early ciders before losing its harvest during the Prohibition era. At the brink of the millennium, however, a singular Hewe’s Crab tree was discovered in a Williamsburg orchard, returning the apple to its glory as the South’s coveted cider apple.
The small batch varietal is honey in color and slightly sweet. It is also one of three historically inspired ciders included in Blue Bee’s Heirloom Series.
Bryant’s Cider Chaider
Watch out pumpkin spice, a chai cider is in town. Bryant’s Cider Chaider is the perfect blend of juicy apples and autumnal spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and refreshing ginger. All Bryant’s ciders are crafted with sustainably grown apples from historic Edgewood Farm and are free of added sugars.
Albemarle Ciderworks Royal Pippin
Royal Pippin is truly fit for a queen as the apple varietal was favored by Queen Victoria and her court. The cider is wonderfully diverse, teasing with notes of pineapple, grape and a lush apple finish.
Folks at Albemarle Ciderworks recommend serving Royal Pippin as an aperitif or with seafood, pork and roasted chicken over winter root vegetables. Sipping the cider with bites of nutty cheeses like Caromont Farm’s Esmontonian is also suggested.
To learn more about Cider Week Virginia, visit CiderWeekVa.com.