Redefining Hard Cider
Nothing Starts from Concentrate at North Country
The crisp New England fall has settled in and promises chilly weather, layered clothing and plenty of apples! New Hampshire’s apple orchards are burgeoning throughout the state, serving as a great excuse to celebrate the round, juicy fruit over a large, sweet-smelling glass of hard apple cider, and we’ve got the story behind the freshest batch.
North Country Hard Cider in Rollinsford, NH began with brothers Silas and Ivan Gordon growing up slow on a farm in central Maine with their chemist mom. She kept them free of chemicals, preservatives, and additives, always showing them food labels and talking to them about what was in the food they were eating. As adults, they found that drinking alcohol never made them feel quite right, that the ingredients included in other ciders to keep them fresh were actually ruining the flavors. They went in search of something more natural, something that tasted and smelled like apples. They partnered up with friend and long-time homebrewer Ron Dixon and began researching and experimenting with homemade cider. The trio found that, while there wasn’t a large amount of information available, they had good luck fermenting local apples.
“We had created a completely different drinking experience,” says Silas Gordon. “It seemed like people really liked it and we really liked it.”
Nothing starts from concentrate at North Country. They use a variety of apples to create different flavors, always trying the apples before they’re pressed to make sure they taste good. Once the apples are pressed, they go into the fermenters for 7-12 days. The fermentation times vary depending on the time of year, the type of apples, and from farm to farm. They monitor the fermentation process, checking the progress up to twice a day. When they’re ready, the crashing process begins. Because North Country Hard Cider is sweetened with residual sugar instead of back-sweetened, the challenge comes from getting the yeast to crash when it wants to keep eating. “We fight the yeast the entire time,” Gordon says. The total turn around for a batch of cider is roughly five weeks. “It’s the slowest, more labor-intensive way to make cider,” he explains. “But it’s the most rewarding because it tastes just like apples.”
North Country sources apples locally from Cooper Farms in Maine, Gould Hill in Contoocook, and Applecrest Farms in Hampton Falls. They also source varieties unavailable in New Hampshire from farms in New York.
With six ciders on tap in the tasting room and growlers available, there is a cider to please any palate this holiday season. For tasting room hours, visit northcountrycider.com. Cheers!