8 Ciders to Try in the Hudson Valley

  • 01 of 09

    Hudson Valley Orchards

    ••• Doc’s Draft at Warwick Valley Winery

    Hard apple cider is as old as America itself—even older, actually, since apple seeds came across the Atlantic with  European settlers—so the drink’s resurgence is only natural in this moment when local, heirloom, and heritage foods are in the spotlight. But there’s more to this trend than meets the eye. Cider-making doesn’t require a good-looking apple, and gives farmers a kind of insurance against disastrous growing seasons and blemish-causing pests (not to mention reducing the need for pesticide). In New York's Hudson Valley, apple farmers have organized to create a Hudson Valley Cider Route and annual Cider Weeks. These projects birthed the Hudson Valley Cider Alliance, and now each year seems to see new brands on the shelves and the opening of new tasting rooms attached to orchards around the valley.

    There are too many cideries in the Hudson Valley to try to visit them all in just one weekend. The following list gets you into the lower reaches of the Valley, a comfy distance for...MORE a day-trip trip from NYC or Philly, or a weekend spent in Kingston, Phoenicia or Beacon. As the cider scene is new, not every batch or every tasting room is a winner or even fully geared up for tourist season. But from rustic to chic, there’s something for every taste.

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  • 02 of 09

    Brooklyn Cider House

    ••• Twin Star Orchards

    Brooklyn Cider House—a newcomer to the field—operates a tasting room and store at Twin Star Orchards. The barn-size space with roll-up garage doors and skylights features a long bar and a shop where visitors can taste cider and purchase local apples, pickles, and jams. The four ciders, helpfully named for their taste (Bone Dry, for example) are highly drinkable. The tasting is free, but you can also buy bottles to enjoy with the pizza and burgers sold in the shaded pavilion set on a  hill overlooking a pond and their orchards. You can also buy and sip the ciders at a number of businesses around the boroughs and the Hudson Valley.

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  • 03 of 09

    Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider/Breezy Hill Orchard

    ••• Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider

    If you’re frequenting any farmers markets in the Hudson Valley or boroughs, you’re likely to run into the Breezy Hill table somewhere. Though the company’s newest acreage at Stone Ridge Orchard is visitable, it’s also basically a small rustic farmstand on the side of the road. Whether you stop there or find the ciders (Godspeed the Plough is a favorite) at a farmers market, they stand out among the Hudson Valley ciders for their more European style—meaning a funkier, unfiltered flavor and look.

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  • 04 of 09

    Pennings Cidery

    ••• Pennings

    Newly open this season, Pennings Cidery is the newest piece of the Pennings apple empire. The cidery sits in a brand-new building with natural wood tables, Edison bulbs, and industrial-style stools, above the fray of the company’s orchard, farm market, garden center, ice cream stand, pub & grill, beer garden, pony rides, pumpkin patch, hay rides, and u-pick. At the cidery spring for a flight of all nine of Pennings’ small-batch ciders ($20, or $3 per 4 oz taste)—you can see the press and the fermenting containers from the bar. Here the most interesting drinks are the most experimental: beet & ginger cider, raspberry lime, peach, and maple syrup.

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  • 05 of 09

    Bad Seed Hard Cider Co.

    ••• Bad Seed Hard Cider Co.

    For a more commercial-sized operation and an actual tour, check out Bad Seed. Even though its only been in the cider business for a few years, the brewery is big enough to be running tours ($6, or $10 with tasting) every hour, on the hour in September and October. The ciders come in 12-oz cans and half-liter bottles alike, depending on the variety. Some are straight (fermented) apple juice, others are brewed in the style of IPA, Belgian, and Saison beers with yeast or hops.

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  • 06 of 09

    Angry Orchard

    ••• Angry Orchard

    Angry Orchard won’t let you pick any apples, but you sip cider in the brand new treehouse—a one-of-a-kind tasting room with views of the valley below. You'll score a free tasting flight of ciders when you take a self-guided tour of their Innovation Cider House. The brewery makes over a dozen types of cider, some year-round, and some only seasonal. If you find something you like, take it home in a growler, or bring back a specialty cider bottle ($18)—you won’t find that in a local grocery store. If you do just want a six-pack of, say, the Crisp Apple (practically tastes like childhood—plus 5% ABV), locate one with the cider finder.

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  • 07 of 09

    Doc’s Draft at Warwick Valley Winery

    ••• Doc's Draft

    Going strong since the 1990s, Doc’s Draft has been called one of the best cideries in America. The Hard Apple Cider has won the gold medal in the Hudson Valley wine competition, but you can also get more experimental and try the seasonal sour cherry, peach, pear, and pumpkin ciders, among others. Sample the ciders in the post-and-beam tasting room, or branch out and even try a wine or brandy. Tastings are $5, and you can soak up the excess booze with a meal at the cafe or grill.

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  • 08 of 09

    Aaron Burr

    ••• Aaron Burr

    Giving off the most intense and mysterious vibe of the Hudson Valley cideries, the only way to visit Aaron Burr’s early-nineteenth-century homestead farm is to join its cider CSA. Sure, you could also track down the ciders. But if your Hudson Valley explorations convince you that we should indeed return to the glory days of cider at every meal (as some claim, we once drank a barrel a piece), a subscription might not be such a bad idea.  

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  • 09 of 09

    Wayside Cidery

    ••• Wayside

    Wayside Cider is an impressive two-year-old operation. It makes a beautiful bottle, a delightfully fizzy drink, and has already endeared itself to sommeliers and business owners alike  (case in point: it’s the cider of choice at the bar of chic Catskills motel The Spruceton Inn). Right now you have to chase down the three cider varieties, but not for long: the tasting room opens October 15, 2016.