Six reasons Charlotte’s cider scene needs to be on your fall bucket list

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Brian Beauchemin, owner of GoodRoad CiderWorks, tosses the apples he uses to make his hard ciders into the air at his home in South Charlotte. Beauchemin brews from his home while looking for a permanent location for his cidery. Friday, May 30th 2014 Longtime homebrewer Brian Beauchemin founded GoodRoad CiderWorks and is now looking for spaces in SouthEnd. Since there's not a location yet, he is brewing from his home.

As Charlotte’s breweries pour countless pints of pumpkin ales and Oktoberfests, it’s important to not overlook other seasonally appropriate beverages. While the city may not lay claim to as many cideries as it does breweries, here are six reasons you should enjoy locally made cider this month.

1. You can learn to make it yourself—this Saturday.
Red Clay Ciderworks will host an NC Apple Pressing and Cider Day on Saturday, Nov. 12, at their South End cidery, located at 245 Clanton Road. Founder Jay Bradish will demonstrate what it takes to grind and press apples to create the juice needed to make hard cider. Local homebrew supply store Alternative Beverage will also sell kits to everyone who wishes to try it themselves. 

Prefer to just drink it? Red Clay will also have ciders from Noble Cider in Asheville, Bull City Ciderworks in Durham, Windy Hill Orchard and Cider Mill in York, S.C., and Shacksbury from Vermont. Pressing sessions will take place at 2 p.m. and 5 p.m., and there also will be a food truck, live music, fresh doughnuts, hot mulled cider and face painting.

pick-cider-for-thanksgiving

2. Cider is perfect for the Thanksgiving table.
Red Clay’s Cider Day is part of the “Pick Cider for Thanksgiving” campaign, through which the U.S. Association of Cider Makers is encouraging people to pair ciders with their Turkey Day spread. Instead of dry or white wines, consider a dry, semi-sweet or sweet cider to accompany your Thanksgiving meal this year. 

red-clay-cans

3. Red Clay Ciderworks just released its first cans.
With help from Land of the Sky Mobile Canning, Red Clay recently canned two of its ciders: Queen City Common and Cherry Bobbin’ Trolls. The latter, a semi-dry and semi-tart cider made with Michigan cherries, has been the best seller in the South End taproom, and they expect that will hold true for cans as well. Find those two in area bottle shops around town, and look for them to can South End Sweet soon followed by Hoppin’ Good Thyme in the spring.

4. The city’s second cidery is on its way.

Charlotte is awash in breweries, but has just one cidery. That will change when GoodRoad CiderWorks opens at 117 Southside Drive. That’s a good road indeed for lovers of locally crafted beverages: it leads to neighbors at Sugar Creek Brewing, The Great Wagon Road Distilling Co., The Olde Mecklenburg Brewery and Doc Porter’s Distillery.

Brian Beauchemin, owner of GoodRoad CiderWorks, tosses the apples he uses to make his hard ciders into the air at his home in South Charlotte. Beauchemin brews from his home while looking for a permanent location for his cidery. Friday, May 30th 2014 Longtime homebrewer Brian Beauchemin founded GoodRoad CiderWorks and is now looking for spaces in SouthEnd. Since there's not a location yet, he is brewing from his home.
Brian Beauchemin, owner of GoodRoad CiderWorks / 2014 Observer file photo

GoodRoad’s core ciders will include a dry, semi-dry and English-style, which should be dry with a bit of funkiness to it that might appeal to fans of sour beer. Plans also call for hopped, ginger, barrel-aged and fruited varieties. GoodRoad’s Kevin Martin will also be producing mead, a honey wine. The cidery hopes to open in December.

5. There are more cider options than ever.
It used to be a cider drinker had just a handful of options, most of them uber-sweet with a little groundhog on the package. Those dark days are over.

Cideries are springing up all over the country, many of them with portfolios of ciders influenced by their brewing brothers. Fruited, hopped and barrel-aged offerings are growing increasingly common, and many can be found in Charlotte’s bottle shops. 

Homebrewer Brian Beauchemin, owner of GoodRoad CiderWorks, holds a glass of his hard cider on the porch of his South Charlotte home on Friday, May 30th 2014. Longtime homebrewer Brian Beauchemin created GoodRoad CiderWorks and is now looking for spaces in SouthEnd. Since there's not a location yet, he is brewing from his home and making small batches.
2014 Observer file photo

6. It’s that time of the year.
Cider can be enjoyed year-round, but few beverages are so synonymous with fall (sorry, Pumpkin Spice Latte lovers). And lucky for us, North Carolina is one of the top apple-growing states in the country, which affords us the opportunity to head to the mountains for a bushel or to one of the state’s many cideries using North-Carolina-grown apples. I’ll drink to that. 

Sip Charlotte is a weekly email newsletter for beer, wine, and cocktail enthusiasts across the region.Click here to subscribe. Have a story idea? Feedback? Connect with editor Caroline Portillo atcportillo@charlotteobserver.com. Cheers!

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