Eager to hear about Scott’s cider adventures at Cider Con Baltimore… Maybe next time I’ll arrange to go. In the meantime I just learned about a Basque restaurant in Washington DC named ANXO on Florida Ave. that sells dozens of ciders for on and off site consumption, in addition to a good tapas menu.
You asked for it you got it…
Unfortunately work is really busy so I only managed one afternoon at CiderCon, I was there yesterday. Here are some impressions…
The convention is not at all for small-timers like me, most of the people I saw there seemed to be associated with some craft cider company I had never heard of, plus the odd academic or consultant or supplier…
The first event I hit was a talk on keeving – “Leave it to Keever” (titled by someone with a sense of humor obviously!). It was cool seeing keeving getting more talked about. It was also packed (150 or so people) showing there is real interest. In general there seems to be a real lifting of the goals for craft cider in the US. I heard lots of public comments uttered about the badness of heavy tree fertilization, sucrose sweetening, etc. I didn’t learn a lot new about keeving since I hadlaready read several books on it but did pick up a few good bits, e.g. they often wait a day between the PME and CaCl2 additions, how the length of maceration varies a lot in France today, and how many French producers in fact just use pectinase to precipitate the pectins out and not bother with the more risky keeving. I had thought all the French ciders were keeved.
Next I popped into the trade show … it was all heavy duty commercial stuff which would have been very interesting had I a barn or two for such goodies. But I don’t, so I didn’t really spend any time there. Heres a picture, your standard trade show kind of thing:
After that I stopped by a very interesting poster session. They are giving small grants for cider research and some of the grantees had posters up. Here was an interesting one from Cornell on a survey of cider apple chemistry from the USDA collection:
Next was a presentation on holistic orchard management by Michael Phillips. I already knew his “pitch” so there was not a lot new from him, but there were also two organic cideries (Eves and one other I can’t remember) that gave their take on it and they had a more practical/realistic take on it which was very interesting and useful. Eves has been brewing up their own nematodes and getting good results on CM/OFM/PC suppression. I have also been trying nematodes but so far with less good results. Michael did make a good point about braconid wasps for moth control, how you need to give them food both before and after the primary moth season by having other plantings nearby. But its such a hard thing to get right.
After that i went to a few tastings. The first was “Wild Fermentations”, something I am interested in as I never use any commercial yeast. We tasted ciders from Sundstrom, Oliver’s, EZ Orchards, and Angry Orchard Walden. The Sundstrom and EZ were all solid balanced if a bit tame ciders. The Olivers was an English cider which tried to be great and had much in the way of strong flavors, but it was seriously off in too many ways and I dumped it. The most interesting of them all was the Angry Orchard “Understood in Motion #3” which was a collaboration with Olivers on an almost-fully Euro cider apple drink. I believe it underwent a brett fermentation, it was very sour at first. Once I got used to it though the rich flavor really came out – it was awesome! I’ll have to look more into brett for cider. AO had another one to taste which was fine but not special.
After that tasting I went to a Peckham’s tasting, the leading NZ craft cidery apparently. They had a range of uniformly good quality ciders including some unusual ones such as boysenberry/apple and quinoa/apple. They did a French keeved cider which I thought was their best; it was a little tame compared to the French version but still a solid cider.
Anyway thats my take… I have one more event, there is an ANXO tasting this Sunday that I plan on hitting. I am very curious how they compare to the real Spanish ciders.
Thanks Scott! My next home tasting event will include these competitors: Farnum Hill; Shacksbury; South Hill; Eve’s; Aaron Burr.
Yeah, I should charge admission!