PA Cider Fest: Education, Sampling, and Pride

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I recently had the opportunity to check out PA Cider Fest.

For the third year in a row, the ever-growing Pennsylvania cider community has shut down their apple presses and set their sights to Biglerville for a weekend of cider celebrations.

Cideries from Pittsburgh to Philadelphia, and all points north and south in between, show up and show off for the annual Cider Fest at Hauser Estate Winery and Jack’s Hard Cider.

Admittedly, I’m just dipping my toe in this world of cider. I’ve always enjoyed cider as a fitting palate refresher but never fully appreciated the nuances and flavors that cover a broad spectrum.

I would say I was generally schooled this weekend during the festivities. I talked to cider makers from across the state, and they were more than willing and proud to teach me a thing or two.

Between The Meet The Cider Makers Dinner on Friday night and PA Cider Fest on Saturday, I was immersed in apple libations all weekend long.

Meet the Cider Makers Dinner

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I found out one thing about cider makers very early on in the night — they are proud. Proud of what they create. Proud of where they produce it. Proud that it’s all Pennsylvania product.

While sitting at my table, maybe looking like a fish out of water a bit, one of the cider makers signaled me over to a stocked tub of bottles, growlers, and crowlers.

He introduced himself as Bill Larkin from Arsenal Cider House in Pittsburgh and filled my glass from his growler.

That kept happening. I met cider makers from all over that were more than willing to share and talk about what they brought, and I was more than happy to sample and listen.

cider

Despite “dinner” being in the title of the event, this night is about cider makers sharing their new offerings, flagships, and experimental libations with their peers.

Dinner, which might have been secondary to the bottle share portion of the evening, was catered by Fidler & Co. featuring taco options of either cider-glazed chicken or cauliflower with a variety of fresh traditional taco toppings.

I also indulged in my fair share of cheese, courtesy of the Pennsylvania Cheese Guild.

(As much as this weekend was about cider, it also became my personal goal to try and buy all the cheese.)

Some of my favorites from the dinner: 

This was all a precursor and warm up for the next day’s Cider Fest.

PA Cider Fest

cider

Despite impending storms and unseasonably cooler weather, hundreds of people showed up to sample from more than 30 different cideries.

If you’re like me and have limited experience with cider, this festival is a bit eye-opening.

I thought that after trying cider on top of cider, I would surely get some sort of palate-fatigue. Fortunately for me and the crowd that gathered on the grounds of Hauser Estate, this was not the case.

There was everything from hopped ciders, to bourbon barrel aged, to still ciders, which drink more like a wine. Then, there is flavored cider, perhaps something with grapefruit, or how about chokeberries?

A bonus to Cider Fest compared to a lot of other drinking-centric festivals is that you can take your favorites home with you.

You can buy bottles, growlers (bring your own or pay $15 for an official PA Cider Fest one), and cans. Also, you won’t have to lug them around all day either. You simply get a tag and your purchases are taken to the “cider check” where you can scoop them up on your way out of the festival.

Cider Fest also features a variety of food trucks, vendors, and cheese. Yes, more cheese.

Favorites from Cider Fest:

My experience this weekend has me thinking about cider in a different light and could spark more cidery trips. I can already see a trip to Arsenal on my inevitable next trip out to Pittsburgh.

James Werner
Author: James Werner

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