Harvest time! Crisp fall air, crisp falling leaves, crisp fresh apples…and even better, crisp hard apple cider! On a whim, we stopped in at Woodside Orchard’s Main Road tasting room, remembering some delicious hot mulled (non-hard) cider we had there on a chilly day last winter. What we found was quite a crowd, sitting around some outside picnic benches and milling around the small tasting room, happily sampling the ciders on offer, and also buying candy apples, apple pie, apple butter, cider donuts, honey, cider, and, of course, bags of apples. Oh, and growlers of hard cider. There’s apple wine, too, but there didn’t seem to be any tastes on offer.
A blackboard on the wall informs us that it is $6.00 for a pint glass, in which one can get samples of the four (which turned out to be five!) ciders on offer. A growler costs $16.00 and only $13 if you are coming in with an empty for a refill. We decided to share one tasting, which was a good idea, since they fill the glass about 1/3rd of the way full, and cider is about 6.5% alcohol (more than most beers, less than wine, according to the server). The crowd kept the servers quite busy, especially when they had to fill a growler from the beer- style taps, but everyone seemed cheerful and patient.
1. Traditional Hard Cider
Ooh, fizzy! This is a pleasant drink, with a taste like a somewhat sweet fruity wine but a dry finish. Back in the day, this is what everyone drank three meals a day, as water was not to be trusted, and is the drink that made John Chapman (a.k.a. Johnny Appleseed) rich.
2. Sour Cherry Hard Cider
This is the surprise add-on, as it is not on the menu. The color is a light pinkish red and it feels a bit tingly on the tongue. I taste cherry on the side of my mouth, but not a lot of flavor. Neither here nor there, we decide.
3. Traditional Sweet Hard Cider
Lovely apple smell and a taste like regular cider—but with a kick—make this our favorite so far.
4. Apple Raspberry Hard Cider
“It’s like liquid Briermere,” theorizes my husband. “Whoa, that’s sweet,” is my reaction. Again, there’s a bit of a tingle on the tongue. We smell apples and raspberries (surprise). Too sweet for me, but I guess you could have this instead of dessert, or mix it in a cocktail.
5. Cinnamon Apple Hard Cider
A good whiff of this will make you think of apple pie and Thanksgiving, and it tastes like an apple pie, too, with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg. We could see serving this well chilled as a refreshing summer drink—or with Thanksgiving dinner!
They have another place on Manor Lane, where you can also do u-pick in the orchard once all the trees behind this place have been picked out.
Reasons to visit: you’re tired of wine (Is that possible?) and want something different; you’re curious about hard cider and want to try before you buy; you want to buy apples or apple treats and might as well taste some hard ciders while you’re at it; the apples are yummy, too.
If you are into making your own, Hard Cider is a great thing to make. You don’t have to cook it like beer and it is not as finicky as wine. Woodside Fresh cider yielded me a great batch this year. I am going to freeze some to make “Jack”.
As you have said their own hard stuff is good. The staff and owners are very friendly and accommodating. Hopefully the new Cider regulations in NY will help keep woodside going strong. Either way hard cider is worth a try.