Crisp, refreshing and deliciously dry hard cider is in. As Thanksgiving arrives and temperatures dip, here’s where to start sipping.
Once upon a 17th and 18th century, hard cider was a household staple – from tables of common colonial folk to those of our Founding Fathers. While John Adams and Thomas Jefferson swigged their cider, the alcoholic drink was dethroned as centuries passed as the drink of choice. Now, for modern 21st century settlers in the DMV and across the country, cider is savoring a spirited revival. And for good reason: it is naturally sugar-free, low carb, gluton-free … and higher quality variations shy away from being cloyingly sweet. “This is cider?” patrons often astonishingly question.
Even more, many cideries popping up in the District and beyond pride themselves on personally sourcing their apples from local orchard farmers. It’s an “adorably small” cider community,” says ANXO’s Sam Fitz, who opened the District’s first cider bar, “and we’re learning how to build it together.” Whether a cidery mills and presses whole fruit on site, fully ferments to around 7.5 percent alcohol by volume, or focuses on a traditional or “honest” cider sans sulfites or sorbate, there’s reason to apple-laud.
ANXO 300 Florida Ave NW, and 711 Kennedy St NW Washington, DC
OVERVIEW: DC’s first cider bar opened in 2016 in Shaw and added a location in Brightwood Park in 2017 to introduce guests to carefully-sourced, traditionally-made options, not macro-ciders.
FROM THE FOUNDER: “ANXO Cider is a reflection of nature, of the season and place that the apples came from,” says Sam Fitz who says he will “call a farmer, talk apples, visit them, discuss growing and harvest objectives, and then buy the apples off the farmer at harvest.”
STATS: 24 draft lines of rotating cider. This year, 100,000 gallons of cider are expected to be made and sold through their distribution network across 15 states.
WHAT’S NEW: Cans were just released of ANXO Commonwealth, their native/wild yeast-fermented Virginia-grown Harrison & Goldrush cider; and its canning facility at 5419 1st St NW is expected to open to the public this winter.
CAPITOL CIDER HOUSE 3930 Georgia Ave NW.
MOST POPULAR: Wild Gold, a wild-fermented, 2017 harvest GoldRush single varietal. Described as having “tons of appley character.” 8.4 percent ABV.
FROM THE FOUNDER: “We’re a neighborhood gathering spot,” said Jared Fackrell. “We make and curate locally-sourced cider, and we mill and press whole fruit on site. We also make the District’s first and only pommeau – essentially, ‘apple port.’ It’s freaking delicious.”
COMING UP: ROOTSTOCK, a cider, food and music festival on Saturday, Nov. 16 at Hook Hall where guest can also meet cider makers.
LOST BOY CIDER 317 Hooffs Run Dr, Alexandria, Va.
MOST POPULAR: “Comeback,” a dry cider made from Shenandoah apples and yeast, with no residual sugar.
FERMENTATION: Aged a minimum of 45 days to allow the cider to deeply mature. The process involves no filtering, pasteurizing or adding of sulfites or sorbate. (The owner is allergic to sulfites).
WHAT PEOPLE SAY: “I’m a beer drinker but this is really, really good.”
FROM THE FOUNDER: “I’m just a normal guy with a dream. We’re focused on an honest process promoting a higher quality product that uses whole and real hand-crafted ingredients that doesn’t pump you full of sugar, that will surprise your taste buds if you give it a try,” says Tristan Wright.
WHAT’S NEW: Several spiced ciders including a blackberry/rhubarb, pumpkin spiced, blueberry/lavender, a Cyser (half mead, half cider) and a special Wassail cider with rosemary, cloves, orange peel, cinnamon, and cranberries.
SUPREME CORE CIDER 2400 T St NE.
MOST POPULAR: “Pounda Gold” flagship , a clean, crisp dry apple flavor, and the “Nother Mother” hopped grapefruit.
1. Ginger Lime, a dry cider made with fresh lime-juice and ginger.
2. A “Trellis” series with City Winery, using wine pomace to finish dryciders (a redux of 2018’s Ivy City Rosé). 3. Seasonal favorite Ginger Beard Man coming in mid-October.
FROM THE FOUNDER: Cider makes me feel … “like a baller”
TAKE AN AUTUMN DRIVE:
MT. DEFIANCE 207 W Washington St, Middleburg, Va. Cider Barn: 495 E. Washington Street, Middleburg, Va.
OVERVIEW: Drive up the hilltop to drink a flight or glass of cider on a rocking chair at the cider barn. Snacks are available and on mild weather weekends a food truck is often available.
MOST POPULAR: Top selling cider is Farmhouse Cider, a dry but “light, crisp and slightly efferevescent” fully fermented cider around 7.5 percent ABV.
WHAT PEOPLE SAY: “People are often surprised at how it reminds them of white wine.” – Marc Chretien
DISTILLERY LANE 5533 Gapland Road. Jefferson, MD 21755
MAKE YOUR OWN: Classes and workshops cover the basics of cider making, orchard care, and fun farm projects. The classes are held on-site at the farm or at partner locations by head cidermaker, Tim Rose, and orchardist, Rob Miller.
How ‘bout them apples?