By Natasha Anderson for The Laurel of Asheville
Sixteen North Carolina cideries unite to create the first ever NC cider trail. A website, CiderNC.com, features an interactive map that allows visitors to type in their location and see which cideries are nearby. The digital platform also allows guests to find information about each spot, including offerings like food, pet friendliness, tours and live music.
“The trail was inspired by the breadth of cider you can now find,” says Botanist & Barrel owner and NC Cider Association president Lyndon Smith. “There are traditional ciders being crafted with meticulous care and careful apple selection and there are ciders bursting with innovative flavor combinations.”
North Carolina is the seventh largest apple growing state in the US. Some producers are terroir-driven and use native yeasts while others are fruit-driven and may add other flavors to compliment the apples. Many also focus on the clean, bright, classic apple ciders that are familiar to consumers.
“Serious ciders are made up of only apples and yeast, utilizing the fruit in its purest form and different strains of yeast to produce flavors and aromas,” says Urban Orchard Cider Company operations director Josie Mielke. “Playful ciders include those that have added fruit, herbs, hot peppers, flowers, spices and other ingredients.”
While cider currently makes up 1 percent of alcoholic beverage sales in the US, this percentage is rapidly rising. The growing popularity can be attributed to both traditional and experimental producers. Though cider is made like wine, some attribute its revival to the more beer-like experimentations that have become increasingly common in the market. Fruited ciders, hopped ciders, sour ciders and barrel-aged ciders are some of the varieties available. Flavors to be found on the NC Cider Trail include Urban Orchard’s Sidra Del Diablo with habañeros and vanilla; Appalachian Ridge Artisan Cidery’s Cliffield Mountain Hard Cider infused with natural ginger extract; and Bull City Ciderworks’ Steep South with honey-sweetened black tea.
The goal of the NC Cider Trail is to educate consumers about the beverage and showcase the diverse range of different ciders within the state via an interactive website. “Visiting WNC cideries is a great way to support small local businesses that are producing high-quality products, helping to preserve farmland and upholding traditional agricultural practices like growing apple trees,” says Barn Door Ciderworks co-owner Katie Moore.
For more information, visit CiderNC.com.