The Connecticut Cider Association is celebrating its first annual Cider Week this week.
The association was formed recently by Ron Sansone in response to the growing cider scene in Connecticut. Sansone is co-owner and cider maker at Spoke + Spy Ciderworks in Middletown.
“We realized Connecticut was one of a few states that didn’t have its own cider makers association, so we reached out to all the Connecticut cider maker permit holders and some like-minded folks got together to talk about cider and promote cider here in Connecticut,” he said.
The New England Cider Company in Wallingford, a member of the association, will be celebrating Cider Week with a public cider pressing class and demonstration on Sunday.
“You’re seeing two to three more places popping up so it is starting to get traction,” New England Cider Company co-owner and cider maker Miguel Galarraga said.
The public will have a chance to see firsthand how the cider is made at the facility on North Plains Industrial Road. People who are interested in attending can book a time slot online from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Due to demand in the last five years, Galarraga said the facility has been scaling back on pressing but still sources fruit and juices locally.
Sunday’s event will use apples sourced from Blue Hills Orchard in town.
“We started with them right when they got started,” said Eric Henry, orchard owner. “They’re a good bunch of guys there.”
Henry said non-perfect apples, such as fruit with punctured stems or bruises, are ideal for making cider. Some of the apples that will be pressed from the farm include empire, honey crisp and pink lady, among other varieties.
“It really has that huge apple characteristic right up front,” Galarraga said of the company’s cider. “We take a dry cider and back sweeten it with fresh juice, so there’s no artificial flavors.”
The pressing process begins with fresh, washed apples from the farm. The apples are run through a hammer mill which grinds the fruit up and makes apple sauce. The sauce is then pumped through large cheese cloths that are folded up and stacked before the juice is squeezed out and stored in large ceiling-to-floor containers.
A bushel of apples, or 42 pounds, makes roughly two to four gallons of cider.
Yeast, as well as other natural flavors, are added to the cider, depending on the variety, and the juice sits until it is ready to drink as hard cider.
“Something that you’re consuming, there’s always a curiosity about it,” Galarraga said. “It’s always fun to share that.”
Participants of the pressing event will get a tour of the facility to learn more about how the cider is made. The tap room will be open as well for sips of already-made ciders, including new seasonal varieties.
A Thanksgiving-inspired cranberry cider will be rolled out this weekend and will join a roasted maple cider recently released for the season.
“It’s our take on an amber-style beer,” Galarraga said of the roasted maple.
The beer-inspired gluten-free cider is made up of maple granule sugar, licorice, chicory root and black tea.
Galarraga said he hopes to continue public events at New England Cider Company and get more people interested in the regional cider scene. Other cider makers participating in Connecticut Cider Week include Yankee Cider Company in East Haddam and Stafford Cidery in Stafford.
For more information call 203-793-7646.
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