The weather may be a bit gloomy, and snow may be in the forecast still, but we promise, if the calendar reads Spring, we are committed to making the best flavors for the season. We’ve gotten creative this year and really inspired by the sunshine and flowers that are sure to come, even if it doesn’t feel like it. We’ve said it before, but here at Blue Toad Hard Cider we love to create new flavors and especially when our loyal fans request a special flavor of their own. If you have a crazy (or even not-so-crazy) flavor idea, we’d love to hear about it! Leave a comment, send us an email, or drop by our tasting rooms and let us know what you’d like to try. You never know, your idea could come to fruition!
Ginger Ale Infused Batch 1
Available only in our Henrietta tasting room!
Ginger Ale Infused Batch 1 (4.8% ABV) – A subtly spicy, crisp and dry cider. Notes of honeysuckle and fresh pressed apples give this cider it’s unique flavor profile. A refreshing sessionable cider just in time for Spring!
Blueberry Hard Cider
We soaked 3 lbs of blueberries in a tank for 14 days. A small amount of blueberry extract was used to jazz it up a bit, too. A lot of the color actually came from the blueberries themselves in the tank. Its very fresh and fruity. Nice tannins and mouthfeel from the blueberry skins, too. 5.5% ABV.
Blueberry is available in Virginia at our cider farm and also available in cans at local retailers. If you want to buy a case, we have them for sale on our website. Check it out here!
Hard Cider is having a moment. Well, its having several moments in reality. Over the past seven years or so, hard cider’s popularity has skyrocketed. In 2011, cider only had about .2% of the market share. By the end of 2014? It owned 1%. Sure, that number isn’t HUGE… but did you do the math? In three years, cider’s market share grew fivefold. That’s absolutely unheard of especially considering that cider had nearly disappeared completely after prohibitionists cut down apple orchards in hopes to destroy the cider makers in the United States.
Between November of 2013 and November of 2014, cider sales had increased 75%. The next closest beverage category? Craft at 20% growth.
There’s plenty of reasons for hard cider’s resurgence – one of which is that cider appeals to women, another is that customers are more curious about craft beverages, whether that be beer or cider, and of course, the fact that cider is gluten-free wins over an entirely different crowd.
In New York State, where Blue Toad currently have three tasting rooms, craft beverage stores in general are popping up everywhere. In the last year, 32 new craft beverage stores opened statewide.
Meanwhile, in Virginia, where Blue Toad currently have a cider pub as well as tasting room, sales for wine and cider (they are grouped together since cider is such a new commodity) were up 6% from 2015 to 2016. More than half a million cases were sold in fiscal year 2016. When separated, cider sales in Virginia were up 52% with over 400,000 cases sold.
So, we pose the question – why do you drink hard cider?
Hard cider has grown enormously in popularity in the past decade. But did you realize that the fermented beverage has been around since the Romans ruled an empire? There is evidence that dates cider back to 6500 BC in Asian and European cultures. The idea of fermenting apples has been traced back to around 55 BC. Way back then, the water was so unsanitary that people actually drank more cider than they did water. Around the sixth century brewers became a skilled profession around Europe, making beer drinks as well as cider. Rumor is that between the 13th and 17th centuries, Europeans were even paid in cider.
Normandy became a big player in the cider-making business around the 16th century. It was here that folks started playing around with different types of apples – some, of course, tasted much better than others. In other places in Europe, as well as colonial America, cider became an important part of the culture.
It is the Pilgrims that are credited with bringing apples with them on their voyage to the Americas. The seeds of the apples were planted and orchards grew. The apples were then purposely fermented to create a cider drink because it was safe and sanitary. In fact, most of the orchards are said to have been planted not for apple consumption, but for cider making.
Over the years, the popularity of cider ebbed and flowed with the different groups of immigrants who came to America. When prohibition was enacted in the 1920s, apple orchards were cut down in hopes that cider supplies would die with them. When prohibition was repealed, cider was slow to make a comeback since many apple orchards were wiped out.
Ciders vary by region in the United States. New England ciders are typically simple and sweet or barrel aged for a sharper flavor. California apples are usually more bitter and sometimes even sparkling. While Blue Toad is made in both New York and Virginia, we source only local apples for every batch of cider. That means, if you’re drinking a Flower City Blonde in Rochester, the apples used are from the Rochester area. If you’re drinking a Blue Ridge Blonde in Nelson County, you’re drinking apples from the area.
In the past decade or so, cider has seen a resurgence – and we are proud that Blue Toad Hard Cider is part of that! Currently hard cider is only about 1% of the beverage market, but is growing faster than any other type of drink out there, and is expected to keep growing. There are typically hard cider drink options in most bars and restaurants these days.
Be sure to ask your next bartender or server if they have any fresh Blue Toad Hard Cider on tap!
Resources: “Cider.” How Products Are Made. . Encyclopedia.com. 28 Mar. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>. Lehault, C. (2013). Go Back in Time with New England Style Ciders. http://drinks.seriouseats.com/2013/05/what-is-new-england-style-cider-strong-hard-cider-with-raisins.html Kerrigan, William (2012).
We at Blue Toad Hard Cider know how to celebrate St. Paddy’s Day right. We’ve got a multitude of celebrations for you and a seasonal flavor that is perfect for anyone celebrating their Irish roots!
Our seasonal flavor for St. Paddy’s Day is deservedly named Paddy Green. This cider is very light, clean and crisp and fermented using 100% local apples. It is clean and refreshing with a tart finish. Just enough for your tongue to do the Irish jig!
You can pick up cans of Paddy Green at Wegmans stores in both the New York and Virginia regions or stop by one of our five tasting rooms for a pint. You can find more information on our tasting rooms here.
St. Paddy’s Day Celebration at The Blue Toad Hard Cider Pub
Join us for a St. Paddy’s Day Celebration on Saturday, March 18th from 2-10pm at our Cider Pub in Afton, Virginia. There will be live music from Gallatin Canyon from 6-8pm. We will have drink specials, food specials, and will be giving away a pair of tickets to The Festy Experience.
For more information on this event, visit our Facebook page.
Blue Toad Hop & Vine Tour
Additionally, we will be having our annual Blue Toad Hard Cider Hop & Vine Tour. Pickup at South Street Brewery on Saturday, March 18th at 2pm. We will visit Wood Ridge Brewing, Blue Mountain Barrel House, and end at The Blue Toad Hard Cider Pub just in time for Gallatin Canyon. Bus brews and ciders are included! There will also be St. Paddy’s Day gear, a Blue Toad mini growler for you to fill up! After the show, we will return you to South Street Brewery in Charlottesville.
To join in on the fun and purchase a ticket, visit our Facebook page.
New York Celebrations
Start your St. Paddy’s Day celebrations early at our Henrietta tasting room. We will opening on Wednesday of this week from 5-pm.
Join us at our Henrietta or Victor locations for $3 pints of Paddy Green. There will also be 25% off all Paddy Green Growlers at all three New York locations.
Hope you see you this weekend!