Summer is coming to a close and many are packing up beach chairs to trade in for fall activities. Autumn is known for crisp air, exceptional foliage — and cider. In New England, cider has been a staple since the first apple seeds were brought to the Massachusetts Bay Colony. Looking for unique cider this season? Here are three spots for a one-of-a-kind experience you can only find locally.
#1: Sowams Cider Works Company
If you ask for cider at Sowams, you’re going to get an alcoholic drink. “What I’m doing is part of a resurgence of the cider making practice in this country,” said Sowams’ owner Spencer Morris. Located in Warren, Morris not only ages the cider in his own cellar, but grows his own apples. “I am a grower first. I would not make cider if I didn’t grow my own apples. If you want the best ciders, seek out cider makers that grow their own fruit,” Morris said. Growing more than 50 types of apples, the fruit is also bound to Rhode Island history. The Rhode Island Greening is just one variety you can find at Long Lane Orchard in Warren, which provides the Sowams apples. “These are old apples, and with them come these wonderful stories.” Consumers see cider as a beer alternative, but Morris sees his product differently. “In terms of both the palette and the way it can be consumed, it is more similar to grape wine.” The cider has no added sulfites, sugar or carbonation.
Sowams also sells apples by the bunch, locally made honey and cider soap. They offer packaged cheese, and Morris encourages people to bring takeout from local restaurants. They remain open year-round Thursday through Sunday and offer events for groups.
#2: Hard-Pressed Cider Co.
If you’re not afraid of change, the cider here will not disappoint. Hard-Pressed Cider Co., located at Windmist Farm in Jamestown, offers non-alcoholic mulled cider, hot or cold, and cider slushies. “Our cider kind of changes with the season,” said co-owner Jaclyn Swanson. “You’ll definitely notice a difference if you were to come three times in the season — once in September, once in October and another time in November… flavor differences just based on seasonal apples.” Inconsistency in the flavor changes week-to-week, depending on what local orchards have in season for apples. “We really do love celebrating the difference.”
The business started in 2011, but in 2015 the company introduced apple cider doughnuts. “It was something that we had been wanting to do for quite some time,” Swanson said. ”We’ve got a little bit more time [now] because we’re not packing up and moving every weekend. And who doesn’t love a good cider doughnut?”
Hard-Pressed Cider Co. moves twice a year, setting up at Windmist Farm from Labor Day until the week before Thanksgiving, relocating to The Farmer’s Daughter in South Kingstown for the Christmas season. They are open seasonally, and opened for business this year on September 2.
#3: B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill
Located in Mystic, CT, Clyde’s is the oldest steam-powered cider mill in the United States, and the last. This national historical landmark began operating in 1881 and has remained family-owned for many generations. Fifth generation owner Annette, and husband Harold Miner still press cider in the original mill, creating 14 different apple wines and eight hard cider varieties. Visitors can try hard cider in the tasting room on weekends. If you’re looking to enjoy a treat with some cider, Clyde’s has many options: Take home a few dozen freshly baked old-fashioned apple cider doughnuts covered in cinnamon sugar, or try other bakery items, jams, dips and more. Cider demonstrations are scheduled on the weekends, but patrons are not permitted in the mill when pressing is active. However, they are allowed to watch from the open doors.
Clyde’s is open seven days a week in September and October from 9am – 6pm, and November and December 9am – 5pm. Scheduled pressings and tasting room visits are offered on Saturday and Sunday only. Hard cider is sold starting at 10am Monday through Saturday, and at 11am on Sunday. Their season started September 1.