Realizing that I’ve been featuring a lot of darker beers (since that is what the weather has been dictating), I thought I’d make today’s feature a hopeful one. In good faith that the weather will eventually warm up, this week’s beer is not in fact a beer. It’s a hard cider.
The cider hails from Sweetland Orchard in Webster, MN. Not sure where Webster is? Think south, near Elko/New Market. I’d never heard of it before stumbling on their product in the cider section of my local liquor store, so I figured all the more reason to try it! But first, I figured I’d better do my homework and learn a bit about their practices and products first.
This place is about as family-owned as you can get and is run by a couple named Mike & Gretchen. I’ve never visited the orchard, but after learning its so near some of my in-laws, I’m definitely going to be paying it a visit this fall when they’re open. In addition to making VERY tasty cider (which we will get to momentarily), their farming practices are pretty great too. They try to leave as small of a footprint is possible on the land and that means they use as few harmful external inputs as possible. Long story short, philosophically and in-practice they are a more holistic grower as opposed to a standard organic one, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. I would still consider them to be a major win in the “environmentally friendly” bucket. You can read literally ALL about it here if that’s your cup of apple juice.
Now, onto the goods! The cider I am featuring this week is their Roundabout cider. The first thing to note is that this cider is batch-numbered. This means it changes every season, and sometimes more than once a season depending on the fruit harvests and how inventive they happen to be feeling at the time. AKA: This is fun. Each batch seems to be completely different, and if you can’t remember what went into the one you end up drinking, they have it all documented on their website. How handy!
As you can see, this time ’round I got to sample batch #6… and man, was it tasty! Released in October 2015, this is a Wassail-style cider that’s truly Minnesota-made: home-grown apples, Minnesota oak barrels, and spiced brandy. It’s got a really warm flavor, with some spicy undertones and a very tart finish that really just makes you want to drink more. According to their site, it’s perfect for winter, but in all honesty, I’d love a glass of the stuff at any time of year!
Long story short – Sweetland, you’ve got my attention and I will most definitely be adding you to the list of my Minnesota staples.