It makes sense that Aaron Burr Cider is made at a small Sullivan County, New York homestead farm, built in the early 19th century—since cider itself is one of America's most historic beverages, and the region's often stark winter temperatures are perfect for making the brew. At the farm, pippin apple varietals (used specifically for cider, in the same way wine grapes are used only for wine) are grown on 200-year-old trees and met with other locally produced and foraged apples to produce a truly superior alcoholic cider. The husband and wife team behind Aaron Burr cider believes that as the descendants of early cider apples still exist in the wild, the beverage must continue to be made in the time-honored tradition. And, by returning to natural fermentation and using only wild yeasts, they've truly mastered something special.
Founder Andy Brennan began making cider (as well as wine and beer) eight years ago, coinciding with a move from Brooklyn to Wurtsboro, NY—where he purchased a 100-acre farm that had been inhabited by the same family for 150 years. When he began to learn the finer details of cider production, he shifted his attention to the craft fully. "Cider producers have always tried to find the cheapest, easiest way for production, but the nuances of good cider are so incredible. It's so much like wine in that way. There's a market out there for people who will not cut corners in cider production, people who will really give it time," he explains to CH. Brennan and his wife age their ciders for nine months, allowing sediment to sit and the alcohol to develop. They release their annual offerings each summer. As small as the company is, and with so much time put into the production, Aaron Burr Cider can be quite scarce—with only a few bottles lingering at restaurants and stores by the spring. This only adds value to the sweet liquid, which weighs in with a 7.6% alcohol content by volume.
Brennan also maintains The Cidery blog, documenting his thoughts and experiences. With the resources of the land, a dedication to the historic craft and a revived interest in the drink, Aaron Burr Ciders are more than worth a try. The light yellow, lightly bubbling liquid represents the best of small batch, locally grown goodness.
This season will see seven different ciders on shelves. Each is differentiated by the location where the apples were foraged, not by the varieties of apples within. Aaron Burr Cider is available at Callicoon and Rock Hill Farmer's Markets for $15 to $20 per bottle, or at various locations throughout New York.
Images courtesy of Polly Giragosian