Finally, a weeklong tribute to hard cider

Finally, a weeklong tribute to hard cider
Photo by Elizabeth Graham

The Big Apple is about to get fermented.

Hard cider, a drink from the days of George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, is poised for a comeback as foodies will raise more than a few glasses of the juiced juice during the city’s first Cider Week, starting on Oct. 16.

Through it all, apple lovers can learn how to make homemade cider at The Brooklyn Kitchen, taste regional beverages at Dandelion Wine and Bierkraft, and learn about the history of fruity alcohols at the Brooklyn Historical Society.

The events are organized by Glynwood’s Apple Project, which represents a consortium of orchard farms and cideries in upstate New York, in order to reintroduce the historic beverage to discerning urban palates.

“Brooklyn can be the pioneer in reviving hard cider,” said Glynwood’s Sara Grady. “This is the perfect drink for the local food movement — it is a beverage so characteristic of the place we live.”

Cider, apple juice fermented with yeast, was one of the first alcoholic beverages in the colonies, where water was rarely potable.

The industry grew throughout the 19th and early 20th century, until Prohibition.

But similar to other spirits with a rich Yankee heritage, such as rye and whiskey, cider has been reinvigorated by a small group of craft distilleries and Brooklyn foodies interested in exploring new beverages.

This stuff isn’t made with apples from your neighborhood’s farmer’s market. Instead, cidermakers use fruit with high amounts of sugars, acids and tannins, such as Esopus Spitzenberg, Ashmead’s Kernel, Yarlington Mill, and Chisel Jersey, and Ashton Bitter — which, coincidentally, is a former colleague’s porn name.

Many ciderhouses are near the Finger Lakes, but some cider lovers are pressing and fermenting apples in Brooklyn with the hope of launching their own products.

Williamsburg resident Nicole Pilar has been drinking cider for 20 years, but began finding the commercial brands too much like liquid candy, so she started making her own.

“It tastes really great, it’s clean, dry and incredibly refreshing and it gives a great high,” said Pilar, who uses a champagne yeast with her apples. “It’s very tricky to make and you might have a lot of exploding bottles.”

But it’s well worth the risk.

For info about Cider Week, visit www.appleproject.glynwood.org/ciderweek.