Rowan Asher Winery (RAW WINERY)

R.A.W Urban Winery & Hard Cidery

Pocono Mountains First Urban Winery and Hard Cidery makes Napa Style Wines and Craft Small Batch Hard Ciders. Visit our 2 Tasting Room locations in Stroudsburg close to the Pocono Resorts.

Filtering by Category: Hard Cider

And so it became their water

Hard cider, some say it's a fad, a girly drink, while some say "it's too sweet for me", others say it's like wine while others compare it to beer. Just what is this fermented beverage and where did it start?

For a detailed answer visit: http://www.northeastcidertrail.com/hardciderhistory/

 

We however will sum it up for you....

 

Hard Cider is made from apples. Many varieties of apples are blended together and pressed into fresh apple cider. The fresh pressed cider is then fermented using the natural wild yeast from the apples or a cultivated yeast is added to begin fermentation, much the same as how wine is made. Over the next few weeks the sweet apple cider will begin to lose it sweetness because the yeast will eat up all the natural sugars resulting in a dryer fermented beverage that is surprisingly not very reminiscent of apples. They range from about 6.5% ABV up to 8.5 %ABV.

But where did it come from? Early in US history the first settlers had experienced the devastating effects of drinking unclean water. So after settling in America, they started fermenting fresh apple cider into hard apple cider as a daily beverage and so it became their water for both young and old alike. For centuries it was the drink of choice and old recipes were brought from their homeland in Europe.

During the time of the prohibition In the U.S., countless cider apple trees orchards were cut down and burned, making the common hard apple cider a rarity in many parts of the United States. 

 

 ...THERE HAS BEEN A REVIVAL …

 

In recent years with the return of curated goods and handcrafted items as well as craft beverages, hard cider has seen a revival. 

 A young hard cider from Rowan Asher Winery & Hard Cidery  

A young hard cider from Rowan Asher Winery & Hard Cidery  

For many who have tried commercial hard apple cider, you could agree that it resembles sweet bubbly apple juice because of the punch of flavorings, juice and sugary sweetness that has been added after fermentation. That's how commercialism has catered to the super sweet tooth of the US consumer.

But if this was your only introduction to Hard Ciders, then you have been mislead. Allow me, a Hard Cideress, to properly introduce you to the amazing world of handcrafted hard ciders! Because handcrafted "homemade" hard ciders are quite different....

It has a wonderfully old-fashioned appeal and as a craft it just feels wholesome. You can taste the fermentation and alcohol in real hard cider and it is amazing! 

There are a vast array of the ciders being made in the states today, from sour or spiced ciders to fruity, while others have been introduced to hops or aged whiskey bourbon barrels, like our "Oaky O'Shea". The amount of carbonation varies as well as levels of dryness from dry, off dry, semi dry, semi sweet and sweet. Different types of yeasts are used from white wine yeast to ale yeast and champagne yeast and these all affect the final product and taste preferred. It can be purchased in cans, bottles and some cider tasting bars like the one at www.rowanasherwinery.com have a growler program, where you can return the growler for a discounted refill of ciders on tap.

All of these variations allow for endless creativity as well as bountiful flavors in this newly "tapped" Market. So why not look online and find your local Hard Cidery and sample a few sips of Americas oldest beverage. 

 

You can find cideries on the newly formed North East Cider Trail that is working to unite Virginia to Maine. Check out www.NorthEastCiderTrail.com

 

Seed to Sip

Driving home tonight from a workshop on fermentation and chemistry in making hard apple cider, I found the demographics of the classroom to be quite interesting. Being in the wine industry for some time, there is a certain stereotype among my fellow wine makers and enthusiasts, however the demographics of today's workshop was quite different from that. I found myself feeling quite honored to be around these men and farmers that I respect so much for their years of valuable experience working the land, having sleepless nights during the snowy season hoping their crops would survive and how poetically they spoke of the beautiful infrastructure of their orchards.

 Can't you just taste them, the fresh produce of summer? 

Can't you just taste them, the fresh produce of summer? 

Having only green eyes and not green thumbs, we source our fresh pressed apple cider from a local farmer in our community and I am quite emamored by these strong knowledgeable men. I'm sure we all respect farmers for what they produce for us on a daily basis, when we remember to. But overall I think we may take them for granted.

 

Think of the summer farmers markets full of green luxurious produce that makes us feel wholesome and healthy just by looking at it, sweet apple cider and pumpkin pies that magically appear just in time for the fall harvest, do we forget to thank the tireless effort of our local farmers? I'm sure we all do, I for one know that I am guilty of it. But a wealth of knowledge is available from these dear ones who don't ask for glory, yet provide to us the sustenance we need to feed our little children and ourselves. Beautiful "farm to table" meals are grown by our local farmers. 

 Farm to table, poached pears

Farm to table, poached pears

 

These were the men I was surrounded by tonight. Many of them, like myself, have begun creating a new genre among the craft beverage industry and that is what has united myself with these respected men.

They really know what it means to go from seed to sip. 

A special thank you to Mary from Dish-LLC.com and Denise, Carla and Erin from Penn State Extention, also Eric Shatt from Redbyrd Cider for your instruction at the "Seed to Sip" workshop. 

Then he said "let there be cider..."

In the beginning…

Everything we do has one, that spark, that flash of inspiration, that thought that feels so crazy or exciting that you're almost afraid to say it out loud. 

I have found that sharing those thoughts are what brings it to birth. By throwing them out into the universe it reverberates back to your own ears along with the thoughts of others, both the negative and the positive until we figure out just what we want from it. 
That's how we got started on this new adventure of ours, as hard cider makers born from winemakers. 

After making wine with my husband for just under 20 years and now looking to open our first winery, I was looking for something new and different that allowed more expansive creativity to add to our business. I have been a painter of modern abstract for many years and feel inspired and excited to sit in front of a blank canvas and share with others what I see because it takes them on my journey with me. I felt that the art of fermenting this new fruit was again that blank canvas full of possibilities in a new experimental and growing culture. 

Our new limited winery license allowed us to also make hard ciders, something that I have tried in the past in bottles at restaurants, but they were so sweet that I couldn't even taste the alcohol, bubbly sweet apple juice is how I referred to it. Not my favorite, but what if it could be made differently? To be fair, homemade products are usually far better than anything commercially produced. So what if I was not properly introduced to hard apple cider's true qualities? What if perhaps I met the imposter and not the real thing?

Thus began the experiment, to see just what was possible in the world of hard apple cider. I chatted with my brother-in-law, an avid beer maker and as a gift he helped us make our first batch. At first it had such a crazy funk to it, making me think that it was a failure, so we pushed to the side in our warehouse and forgot about it. But I still wanted to give it a shot, so I purchased my own fresh pressed apple cider, 30+ gallons of it and went to work, reading as much as I can get my hands on about the process, scouring YouTube and researching the ancient art of fermenting apples. To my surprise, there wasn't a lot of solid information out there, just jumbled blogs and differing ideas, so I figured I'm kind of on my own with this.

After years of backpacking the Appalachian Trail, Yosemite, Europe and the wild Alaska frontier, I had always traveled with a journal and a small book about how to identify edible plants so that I could TASTE the earth around me. So the one thing that kept ringing true was that the earth provided such an abundance of plentiful herbs and flowers, why not share some of my favorite tastes with others via my hard apple cider and take them on my journey that way.

   Resting in the muskeg and low cranberry  patches on the Dixie Pass in Wrangle St. Elias, Alaska 

  Resting in the muskeg and low cranberry  patches on the Dixie Pass in Wrangle St. Elias, Alaska 

So the compass was set that day, pointing north with those thoughts of inspiration and direction on a new trail that lay in front of me, so with a jump in my step and a bit of nervousness in my gut, I took a running leap down that path, but it was just the begining...