The Cider

Bottling some of our hard cider.

In the United States, the word “cider” originally referred to distilled apple juice (containing alcohol). During Prohibition, the U.S. government banned alcoholic drinks, but promoted the sale of “cider.” They were not, however, encouraging consumption of traditional “cider” (distilled apple juice with an alcohol content). Instead, the government was calling apple juice (no alcohol content) “cider” in the hopes of replacing the beloved, American alcoholic beverage with non-alcoholic, fresh-pressed apple juice. Today, due to the legacy of Prohibition, Americans still refer to apple juice (no alcohol content) as “cider.” To eliminate confusion, we refer to any of our cider with an alcohol content as “hard cider” and any of our cider with no alcohol content as “fresh cider.”

All of our cider is made from apples that are grown on the farm. The apples ripen starting in August, and this ripening continues until November. During these four months, we pick the apples as each variety ripens, and let the picked apples “sweat” (leave piles of picked apples to sit for at least three weeks—some apples, such as the Newtown Pippin, require four to six weeks—which allows the apples to fully ripen). While the apples “sweat,” complex flavors and aromas develop, which contributes to our ciders’ depth and fullness. Additionally, the water content of the apples decreases, increasing the sugar concentration of the apples (a crucial factor when it is time to ferment the fresh cider to create our hard cider blends). Once the

Fresh cider keeping cold in the refrigerator.

apples have been allowed to fully ripen, we press them. It takes approximately thirty minutes to press thirteen to fourteen bushels of apples (there are about ninety apples per bushel). Each press (the thirteen to fourteen bushels) yields around thirty-five gallons of juice. After the apples are pressed, we take the pressed juice and use it in our fresh and hard cider production. The pomace (the pressed apples, seeds, and skin) goes to local dairy and pig farmers to feed to their animals. For fresh cider, we simply bottle the pressed juice at this point. Hard cider involves several more steps. First, we ferment the juice (special yeast are added for this process). Fermentation takes a minimum of two weeks (and can take up to six weeks) and results in a hard cider with a seven to eight percent alcohol content. After fermentation, we “rack” the cider. Cider naturally has a lot of sediment, and during fermentation, the sediment settles at the bottom of the barrels.

When we rack-off the cider, we carefully take all of the fermented cider while leaving behind the sediment at the bottom of the barrels. Once racked, the cider is ready to bottle.Distillery Lane Ciderworks started selling hard cider in 2010. All of our cider is produced on the farm, and all of it comes from the specialty cider apples that we grow on our property (for more information about the apples, please see our page “The Apples”). Our hard cider is naturally fermented and we culture-blend our cider to balance sweetness, tartness, and acidity. The hard cider ranges in price from $9 to $25 per bottle. For home brewers, we also sell fresh cider that one can ferment at home. Currently, we offer 10 different varieties of cider, ranging from a still extra-dry to a semi-sweet sparkling. (See descriptions below!)

Please contact us for more details!


DLC Cider Varieties:

  Kingston Black: It is rare amongst the hundreds of apple varieties grown today that one apple has proper amounts of sugar, acid, and tannins to make a high-quality, single varietal cider. Kingston Black, an apple first grown in Somerset, England, is one of these rare apples. Highly prized, but scarcly cultivated in America today, Kingston Blacks grow very well in our orchard.  It has a wonderful tartness and lovely finish. Serve chilled with poultry, mild fish or pork. We also bottle limited quantites of Kingston Black sparkling.
  Celebration Cider: Our semi-sweet sparkling Celebration Cider is perfect for just that—a celebration!  We blend juice from modern and vintage apple varieties to produce this rich, full-bodied, tart and medium sweet hard cider.  Serve in a champagne glass and enjoy the bubbles.  Our Celebration Cider can also be found on tap in selected local establishments.
  The Jefferson: Thomas Jefferson was a renowned cidermaker and orchardist in his time.  One of his favorite apples was the Newtown Pippin, an apple first grown in New York.  Historically, this apple was exported in large quantities to Great Britain (the Queen liked Newtown Pippins so much that British Parliament lifted the import duty only on this apple variety). It is no surprise that the Queen liked the Newtown Pippins so much: on a trip to Europe, Jefferson once notoriously declared, “they have no apples here to compare with our Newtown Pippin!” For our hard cider, The Jefferson, we press Newtown Pippins, along with other vintage cider apples, to create an off-dry cider. The cider is also aged with American oak to achieve an old-time flavor, reminiscent of the oak barrels that Jefferson would have used when brewing his ciders. The Jefferson is perfect with smoked fish and meat.
  Limited: Every year, we have a few batches of cider that are apple blends of limited quantity. As a result, each batch of our Limited hard cider is unique and bottled in relatively small numbers. Usually, Limited is a blend of our specialty apples, such as Roxbury Russet, Stoke Red, or Tremlett’s Bitter. In the Spring of 2012 we introduced a small trial batch of cider fermented with Aronia berry juice.   The combination of the Aronia berry juice and cider resulted in our sweetest cider to date, and quickly sold out on the farm. For the Fall of 2012, we have bottled one of the finest off-dry, single-varietal ciders we have made: a single barrel of Porter’s Perfection, distilled from a bittersharp apple, creating a wonderfully aromatic cider that is truly exceptional.
  American Extra Dry: Our American Extra Dry hard cider is crisp, light, and fully dry.  It is minimally processed to retain as much apple character as possible.  It is made from a blend of juice from modern American apple varieties such as Liberty, Goldrush, and Freedom, along with juice from vintage sharp and bittersweet apples.  This cider is perfect as the accompaniment to cheese, crackers and fruit.  It is also ideal for mixing with your favorite liqueur.
  Encampment: On September 13, 1862, the Confederate cavalry, under the command of Colonel Thomas Munford, occupied Burkittsville (the town immediately adjacent to our farm). The Union soldiers waited until the following day, September 14, 1862, to engage the Confederate army in battle. While they waited, the Union soldiers established an encampment on the farm of Otho Harley (what is now our property), just beyond the range of the Confederate cannons. On property maps today, Harley’s farm is known as “Encampment” and is the home of Distillery Lane Ciderworks. 2012 marked the 150th anniversary of this historic clash between the Union and Confederate armies. Our medium-sweet Encampment hard cider is dedicated to the men who fought on that fateful day. 
  Traditional Dry Sparkling: Our Traditional Dry Sparkling Cider is made from a blend of English, French, and American cider apple varieties. The blend of apples gives our ciders the right combination of acid, tannins, and sugar to make fine hard cider.  We take the well-balanced cider blend and allow it to finish the fermentation process in the bottles (similar to bottle-conditioned craft beers).  The result is a fully dry, sparkling beverage that is perfect for a hot summer day or an evening toast. Many people have commented that this hard cider is very similar to champagne. 
  Winterfest:  In the style of an ice cider, we concentrate the juice from a blend of our outstanding apple varieties. This process enhances body, aroma, and flavor. We ferment this rich blend to produce a sweet hard cider that is perfect for after dinner or anytime enjoyment.
  Vintage:  At Distillery Lane Ciderworks, we grow vintage apple varieties from Europe and America to blend into our ciders. Our Vintage hard cider relies heavily upon the bittersweet vintage varieties to provide the strong tannins that are characteristic of fine old-time ciders. The apple image on the label for the Vintage cider is of a Newtown Pippin, a vintage American apple.
  Fresh Cider:  Our fresh cider is made from the same fresh-pressed juice blends as our hard ciders, but it is not put through the fermentation process. As a result, it is non-alcoholic. The specific blends of juices vary from week to week, depending on what apples are ripened and pressed that week. Our fresh cider is refreshing served cold on a hot, late-summer day or heated and spiced during the crisper autumn months.Our fresh cider is UV treated to eliminate any potentially harmful bacteria. We do not sell unpasteurized juice to retail customers.