Updated: Mar 8, 2019
For me, going to Stowe Cider is like walking into a huge room with family. Before the people at Stowe Cider really even knew me and Chris, they were always so kind and welcoming, and their hospitality skills were through the roof! They had an answer to every question I had, and were extremely enthusiastic about the product they put out—as they should be. I mean, saying that their ciders are delicious is an understatement to say the least. And saying that I like Stowe Cider is the understatement of the century!
I’ve been a fan of Stowe Cider since day 1. About six years ago me and my sister were wandering around Stowe, VT looking for something to do on a rainy day. We were vacationing at the Trapp Family Lodge and decided to make like rain, and head down the mountain. While we were driving around on that gloomy day, we saw a roadside sign with a creeping tree on it. We were immediately attracted by the logo and pulled into that tiny little warehouse that was Stowe Cider. As you may already know, for the longest time I was allergic to beer, specifically the hops. So hard apple cider was right up my alley (no pun intended..). When they first started Stowe Cider, they had maybe two or three ciders on tap, and even back then I loved them. I had had ciders before, but I always found them being far too sweet for my liking—I am a bourbon girl after all. But these ciders were drier, like really dry. Like really wonderfully dry. And ever since then, year after year, I kept going back for more of that delicious dry cider. Eventually Mark, the co-owner, started to recognize us; two dopey sisters buying a ton of product with each visit. I usually ended up buying a case or two easily, since at that time Stowe Cider wasn’t distributed where I live, so I always had to make the trip up to Stowe, sometimes even twice a year. Thankfully, now, since they are becoming successful and more well known (Yay!), you can buy Stowe Cider in stores in the Berkshires, and now I can pick some up on my way home from work.
That being said, even if you can get Stowe Cider near you, make sure you take a trip down to their newest home. This is their third establishment since they first started in that tiny warehouse, and with each location they've grown bigger and bigger. Now they have plenty of space to house all their product, as well as having room for offices, fermenters, and a comfortable environment for people to hang out and enjoy cider in. Their newest facility they built from the ground up, doing all the planning and construction themselves! And with each new facility they managed to keep the taproom a welcoming and fun space to be in. And they have tons of games too,
from Jenga to Battleship (me and Chris’ go-to) , to Checkers and Monopoly. They have picnic tables lining the outside of the “garage door” entrance, and inside plenty of high tops near the bar, perfect for enjoying a tasting of cider, or if you just want to go for it, a pint of your favorite.
Now, for the ciders themselves? Yeah, saying that I love them isn’t saying enough. Anybody that knows me says I’m a walking Stowe Cider advertisement. Just one mention of hard apple cider, and I’m there spreading the good word of Stowe Cider. It’s inevitable. They have a core three ciders: Tips Up, High & Dry, and Safety Meeting; each all so refreshing in completely different ways. Tips Up (my favorite) is a semi-dry hard cider with a slight tartness. Made for easy drinking and pairs well with a variety of food. High & Dry, as the name suggests is a SUPER dry cider, close to champagne dry, and is more apple forward and finishes crisp and clean. It’s great for drinking, and as I found out, great for cooking. One day I was making a beef stew in a slow cooker, and on a whim threw in a can of High & Dry in (because I was drinking it too). I mean I’ve heard of cooking with beer, so why not cider? And it was good. Like really, really good. So good, it’s become one of my go-to recipes (not that I have many, since Chris does most of the cooking at home, but still). And then we have Safety Meeting, the gateway cider. They start with Tips Up and dry hop it with citra & galaxy hops, to make a cider fit for a beer-drinker. Unsurprisingly this is the cider that got Chris onto the cider bandwagon with me. While these three are here to stay, Mark and his team are always experimenting and changing their lineup. Every time I visit, the tap list is different. They once had a tequila barrel-aged cider that was so good, that Chris got two growlers of it. They play around with barrel-aging frequently and have used rum, bourbon, and even chardonnay barrels for aging. Their Gin & Juice Cider went one step further, and infused gin botanicals from local distilleries into their ciders, some variations were even aged in gin barrels. To me, Stowe Cider makes some of the most unique ciders on the market, there’s nothing else that even comes close to what they’re putting out.
So, clearly, experimenting is Stowe Cider’s thing. One of their latest ventures had them partnering with a local teamaker to create ‘The VTea’. They used cold-pressed tea, which like cold-brew coffee, gives a smoother flavor that lacks the bitter qualities that you get from with brewing with hot water….and also lacks caffeine. Add in a bit of hard cider, and you get The VTea, a hard iced tea that….tastes like iced tea is supposed to taste: rich, smooth and refreshing. One of Stowe Cider’s other recent experiments, ‘Twiddle Plump’ also maximizes on a refreshing taste. Partnering with Scott Farm Orchard in Dummerston, VT, Stowe Cider combined crisp tart apples with lucious juicy plums to create, in my opinion, one of their best ciders yet. Their current summer hit is their ‘Strawberry Fields’ cider, a semi-dry cider fermented with strawberries, lime, and a bit of mint for a nice clean finish. Lastly I want to mention another cider they make that isn’t just good for the palette but also good for the community. Last Fall, Stowe Cider asked their community to forage for apples in the local area. Partnering with another local cider-maker, Cold Hollow Cider Mill, the apples gathered by the community were pressed into cider(non-alcoholic). Stowe Cider then fermented and canned the cider, and used the profits from their ‘Scholarship Cider’ to create two scholarships for college to be given out to two local high schoolers. And to me it’s SO amazing that Stowe Cider did this. Me and Chris (like most of our generation) are currently paying back our student loans. And It sucks. Every little bit helps in the long run, and it’s awesome that Stowe Cider had this idea to really involve themselves with the community—and they don’t stop there.
Throughout the summer Stowe Cider has their ‘Cider Saturdays’ every (you guessed it) Saturday. There’s live music, yard games, and sometimes you can get a sneak peak (sneak taste?) of some of their latest concoctions. On August 11th they have one of their biggest annual events, Jam for the Land, a benefit for Stowe Land Trust. While normal ‘Cider Saturdays’ are free admission this one you’ll need tickets for, and boy it’s worth it. They’ll be good cider of course, live music, beer from Burlington Beer Co., local food vendors, and best of all, $5 of every ticket and a part of proceeds go directly to Stowe Land Trust, a land conservation organization, to protect and conserve the pristine and naturally idyllic Stowe landscape. This kind of community support from a local business is simply amazing. It should be the gold standard that businesses should strive for. And it just makes all that sweet delicious cider I’ve drank over the years seem that much sweeter (but still really dry).
Stowe Cider always makes their products with locally sourced apples and ingredients. They have a goal to make the most balanced, highest quality locally produced cider on the market. I’ve had my fair share of ciders over the years, and had always been searching to find that ‘just right’ cider. One that hit that perfect balance of sweet and crisp. After years of trying, I’ve finally found my white whale, and nothing else can compare to the quality that Stowe Cider puts out. So join me and Chris, and many others to be a Stowe Cider mega fan! Please stay tuned in the fall when we check out a Cider Saturday ourselves. And make sure you head down to Stowe Cider’s Jam for the Land event. Tickets are $12 now, and $15 day of. But if you’re quick and can get a ticket before August 5th, they’re only $8!
As it stands, Stowe Cider is a business that built itself from the ground up, and seeing the progress has been incredibly rewarding for me. I have loved seeing them grow and seeing other people enjoy their ciders as much as I have. If Good Bites & Glass Pints becomes even half as successful as Stowe Cider has been, we will consider ourselves lucky.
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