Forget pumpkins! Autumn means apples—specifically apple cider. The hard stuff. Celebrate the season by visiting the best cideries and orchards on the coast.
Photo: Bootstrap Commercial Arts
Visit Alpenfire Cider: The tasting room is open from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday through December.
Drink: Cinders, a small batch, Methode Champenoise cider. Love rosé? Try Glow, a single varietal cider that gets its pink hue from organic Hidden Rose apples grown in Kings Valley, Oregon.
Eat: A sandwich made with local ingredients from the Chimacum Corner Farmstand. Then load up on fresh produce and regional charcuterie.
Apple obsession: Muscadet de Dieppe, a bittersweet French cider apple with high sugar content and thick, musky juices.
Photo: Laura Cherry/Dragon’s Head Cider
Visit Dragon’s Head Cider: The tasting room is open Saturday and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. through December. For $5, you can sample five of Dragon’s Head’s ciders and get a logo cup to take home with you.
Drink: The Traditional made from a blend of more than 20 traditional English and French cider apples. Pippin Cider, fermented with Newtown Pippin apples, a favorite of Thomas Jefferson and George Washington. And the Columbia Crabapple, made from (you guessed it!) local crabapples.
Apple obsession: Kingston Black, an English cider apple Dragon’s Head uses to produce and bottle a single varietal cider of the same name.
Photo: Jen Lee Chapman
Visit Finnriver Farm & Cidery: The Orchard & Cider Garden is open daily, with extended hours on Friday and Saturday.
Drink: The Apple Abbey Cider, which is fermented with a Belgian abbey yeast, and has tropical, spicy notes of banana and white pepper. Or the oak-aged Sidra, made in a Spanish style that allows for exposure to oxygen, resulting in a slightly briny finish.
Eat: Wood-fired pizzas are available in the Cider Garden all weekend through the end of October—stop by on Saturday night or Sunday afternoon for live music, too.
Apple obsession: Golden Russet. It’s a subtle apple with mottled skin, but when fermented, it has a refined taste and makes a deliciously crisp cider.
Photo: Nicole Ledford
Visit Schilling Hard Cider: The Schilling Cider House has a huge collection of draft and bottled ciders and is open to visitors 21 and older all week.
Drink: The Lumberjack, which is dry with sweet pear flavors and rugged undertones. For something sweeter, ask for the Grapefruit Cider—their take on a summer radler or shandy (beer mixed with cider). The London Dry is Schilling’s bone-dry, English pub cider—the best choice for traditionalists.
Eat: The Ham & Beecher’s sandwich (ham, Beecher’s cheese, and sage aioli) from Homegrown, a local sandwich shop that offers local, seasonal, and organic sandwiches, salads, and more. Grab a sandwich to go and enjoy your homegrown fare (see what we did there?) with some delicious cider.
Photo: Mark B. Bauschke
Visit Seattle Cider Co.: The Woods tasting room, in Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood, has 24 tap handles, is 21 and older only, and allows dogs (though they can be younger than 21). It’s open every day except Monday.
Drink: The Dry, allegedly one of the driest ciders on the market. It has hints of nectarine, peach, and cherry, yet has no lingering sweetness. Or indulge in the boldly refreshing Citrus, made with dessert apples like Fuji, Golden Delicious, and Galas.
Eat: Three-pepper cider wings or duck fat popcorn from popular Seattle food truck Bread and Circuses, which has a brick-and-mortar set-up in the Woods.
Apple obsession: Winesaps—Seattle Cider Co. will be producing a Winesap Rosé for their 2016 Harvest Series release, out in May 2017.
Photo: Henry Arden/Getty Images
Visit E.Z. Orchards: The Market is open all day every day except Sunday; in October, the Shortcake Stand is open on weekends.
Drink: Roman Beauty Cider, a pre-Prohibition–style North American cider, or Poire, a French-style perry. For a classic, try Cidre Semi Dry. E.Z. Orchards' flagship cider, it’s French-inspired and made from French bittersweet apple varieties.
Eat: Anything from the Shortcake Stand—caramel apples, cider slushies, and pie, oh my.
Apple obsession: Marie Menard and Domaines, two bittersweet apple varieties grown in E.Z.’s orchards.
Photo: Aaron Lee Photography
Visit Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider: Visitors 21 and older can stop by every day except Monday.
Drink: Hallelujah Hopricot, Reverend Nat’s flagship, for a fresh and fruity (but not overly sweet) Belgian wit–style cider with pure apricot juice and hops. For apple purists, try the Revival Hard Apple for a classic everyday drink or the Winter Abbey Spice—available only in the fall and winter—which is spiked with cinnamon and nutmeg. Drink it warmed or add a splash of rum to perfect the experience.
Eat: One of Sizzle Pie’s whimsically named pizzas, like Police and Thieves (spinach and mushrooms) or Pig Destroyer (pepperoni, meatballs, and bacon). The restaurant shares a building with Revered Nat’s, so your perfect pizza-cider pairing is just steps away.
Apple Obsession: Granny Smith; as one of the most sour commonly available apple varieties, it brings great pucker to sour ciders like Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry.
Photo: Photography René Bosch/Getty Images
Visit Humboldt Cider: The tasting room opens at 5 p.m. on Friday and at 12 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday; it closes at 9 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, 8 p.m. on Sunday.
Drink: Sierra Beauty, a single varietal cider that has tropical notes of mango and passion fruit. For something drier, ask to try the Double IPC, a double dry-hopped cider with Citra and Simcoe hops. To get a good sense of the area’s apple offerings, sample the Humboldt Blend, which mixes all of Humboldt’s apples.
Photo: Courtesy of BC Tree Fruits
Visit BC Tree Fruits Cider Company: The tasting room is open every day, with shorter hours on Sunday, and offers samples of BC Tree Fruits’ three Broken Ladder cider varieties: Apples, Pears, and Apples & Hops.
Drink: Try the Broken Ladder Apples & Hops for a hoppy cider with hints of grapefruit, or go for the Apples cider for a classic, bright cider made from apples grown on their Okanagan Valley orchard for over three generations.
Eat: The tasting room is attached to a fruit market, where you can pick up locally grown produce to nibble on with your cider. For something heftier, stop by BNA Brewing Co. & Eatery in downtown Kelowna for small and large plates (think smoked brisket wontons, goat vindaloo, and porchetta baos).
Apple obsession: A secret blend of six British Columbia–grown apples used to make BC Tree Fruits’ Broken Ladder Apples cider—you’ll have to taste it to guess at the varieties!
Photo: Courtesy of Ravenskill Orchards
Visit Ravenskill Orchards: The orchards are open to visitors Friday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. In true old-school fashion, though, they hang a green banner on the road that passes their farm to indicate whether they're open.
Drink: Gabbie’s Premium Cider, Ravenskill’s flagship line of ciders, in either Real Dry or Semi Dry flavors.
Apple obsession: Belle de Boskoop, a Dutch variety that tastes slightly tart and that is used in Ravenskill’s base cider.
Photo: Luis Veiga/Getty Images
Visit Tandem Ciders: The tasting room is open seven days a week; stop by for a taste of the delicious ciders and for a glimpse into the close-knit Michigan farming community.
Drink: Smackintosh. It lives up to its name: This sweet-tart cider—made with Rhode Island Greening, Northern Spy, and yes, McIntosh apples— packs a punch. Pretty Penny is a blend of more than 30 cider and antique apple varieties and offers plenty of nuance. And Cherry Oh! is a cherry cider made from freshly pressed Montmorency, Balaton, and Black Sweet cherries.
Apple Obsession: Rhode Island Greening, Ida Red, and Northern Spy.
Photo: Courtesy of Vander Mill
Visit Vander Mill: The Grand Rapids Tap Room, Restaurant, and Production Facility is open all week; the Spring Lake Tap Room and Restaurant is about thirty minutes away, just off Lake Michigan.
Drink: Ginger Peach for a clean, crisp quaff that balances biting ginger and sweet peach. For something sweeter, try Blue Gold, a semi-sweet cider blended with blueberries. Puff the Magic Cyser is barrel-aged, perfect for those whose tastes run drier.
Eat: A smorgasbord of fresh takes on bar food (ham and doughnuts, anyone?) in the Grand Rapids restaurant. Try (and fail) to resist their satisfying hot plates, like a pork chop with sweet potato maple mash and pumpkin seed vinaigrette.
Apple obsession: Ashmead’s Kernel—it’s rare, high in acidity and in tannin, and Vander Mill promises it makes a delicious cider.
Photo: Courtesy of Virtue Cider
Visit Virtue Cider: The farm is open Monday through Sunday. Stop by to sample their ciders and purchase pints and bottles from the onsite bottle shop, or come Friday, Saturday, or Sunday for a guided tasting and farm tour.
Drink: One of the Orchard Series ciders, to get a pure taste of what a single local, family-run orchard can produce, or the Michigan Brut for heirloom flavors in a French-style cidre. The Prince Hal cider is Welsh-style and barrel-aged—try it for bright, fresh apple aromas, and sweeter notes.
Eat: Cured meats, cheeses, and other snacks from Virtue Farm’s Bottle Shop; for something a bit more substantial, Salt of the Earth—on Fennville’s Main Street—offers a farm-to-table dining experience that you don’t want to miss.
Apple obsession: Heirloom apples grown on Michigan’s “Cider Coast”; try the Michigan Brut to enjoy their complex flavors, ripe aromas, and citrus notes.
Photo: Des/Getty Images
Visit Wölffer Estate Vineyard: The vineyard’s tasting room and Wine Stand are open all week; the tasting room offers a more refined experience, while The Wine Stand is a little more relaxed and offers live music Friday and Saturday night. Sample Wölffer’s ciders, or slip a few of their wine offerings into the mix.
Drink: Wölffer No. 139’s Dry Rosé Cider and Dry White Cider. Both are sparkling; the rosé is sunset-hued and slightly sweetened by a small addition of red grape skin extract, while the white is a classic dry cider with citrus notes.
Eat: Cheese and charcuterie plates, offered by the tasting room and The Wine Stand; or make a trip to Wölffer Kitchen in Sag Harbor, if only for the rustic peach tart on their dessert menu.
Photo: Courtesy of Bantam Cider
Visit Bantam Cider: The tasting room is open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday and offers cider flights, ciders on draft, and bottles, cans, and growlers. Visitors can also take first-come, first-served tours of the brewing facility.
Drink: The flagship Wunderkind—bright and crisp, it’s smooth and drinkable. For something more rustic, try one of their limited edition, barrel-aged ciders made from heirloom varietals. And for something completely new, try their Smoked Saison for a uniquely woody, scotch-like cider.
Eat: A house-made pretzel and the foot-long brat with Riesling sauerkraut at chef Tim Wiechmann’s German biergarten, BROWNYN, just down the street.
Apple obsession: Dabinett, which Bantam Cider is set to feature in a small batch blend this fall.
Photo: Cambria Brockman
Visit Downeast Cider: The production facility in East Boston offers tours (with reservations) Friday through Monday; on Saturday or Sunday, head out of town and visit the taproom in Charlestown.
Drink: The Pumpkin Blend—it’s made with fresh pumpkin and lightly carbonated, and it’s available from now through Halloween. Otherwise, try the Original Blend for something classic and fresh, or the Cranberry Blend, which is topped with a dash of cranberry juice for a crisp finish.
Eat: An Australian-style pie with braised lamb shank or curried vegetables from KO Pies, right next door to the East Boston location.
Apple obsession: Freshly pressed local apples such as Cortland, Gala, and McIntosh.
Photo: Dougal Waters/Getty Images
Visit Far From the Tree: The taproom is open Thursday through Monday in the afternoon and evening and offers samples, flights, and full pours. Buy a growler or bottle to take with you, or sit and enjoy the farm-fresh, local atmosphere. Check the website for events like trivia night, festivals, and farmers’ markets or to see when local food trucks are stopping by.
Drink: Cord, an oak-aged maple cider that tastes like fall. For die-hard beer fans, try Far From the Tree’s excellent dry-hopped cider, Nova. Roots is a classic New England–style dry cider, barrel-aged and flavored with maple syrup.
Eat: Some Czech marinated (paprika, red pepper, thyme) brie with crusty bread at Gulu-Gulu Café in downtown Salem. The restaurant is about a half-mile walk from the cidery, and they offer live music and other events five nights a week.
Photo: Michael Marquand/Getty Images
Visit Harvard Cider Company: Their storefront is open Thursday, Friday, and Saturday and offers free tastings, in addition to cider by the bottle and by the case.
Drink: Any of the first three members of Harvard Cider Company’s line-up. Anchor is a balanced New England cider, crisp and off-dry; Paradise is steeped with orange peel and black pepper and has a sharp finish. Missing Link is half beer and half cider, and plenty of hoppiness.
Photo: Lynn Hernandez/Lynn Studios, Inc.
Visit Accomplice Ciderworks: The tasting room is open in the afternoon every day except Monday.
Drink: The “Cidewinder” Cinnamon Double Cider, a smooth cider peppered with elegant notes of cinnamon and spice. Accomplice uses local, seasonally available produce to flavor their ciders, so stop by to see what they’re offering: You could catch their Coffee or Habanero varieties—or you might find something else equally unique.
Eat: Hang around Accomplice’s tasting room to see what local food trucks, vendors, and restaurants are setting up shop—you might find a new West Palm Beach favorite. For a sit-down meal, check out Grease Burger Bar, just a few minutes away, for (predictably) greasy classics like brats cooked in beer and stacked burgers.
Apple obsession: Whatever’s growing nearby: Local mangos, blackberries, and jackfruit have all made appearances in an Accomplice apple cider.