in the land of apples
With the giant growth in the beer industry over the last few years, and even the recent increase in local liquor production, I can’t help but wonder why cider hasn’t seen a major boom, as well. This is especially appalling here in the Midwest where the University of Minnesota alone produces new apple varieties each year and the number of apple orchards is astronomical.
Well, I’m waiting for the boom. But until then, I’d like to profile one cidery in Wisconsin – Maiden Rock.
Maiden Rock Cidery in Stockholm Wisconsin creates wine and cider that is distributed throughout the Midwest, using up to 49 types of apples in all. When purchasing the farm, the owners Herdie and Carol Wiersma already knew they wanted to produce cider.
image: Island Orchard Cider, WI
Growing apples in the Midwest, although common, is not easy. Not all apples are good for cider, and not all climates support all types of apple trees. After some careful planning and joining the Minnesota and Wisconsin apple growers associations, they were off to a good start.
image adapted from Heavy Table
With one apple wine and one cider, oficial sales began in July of 2008.They now have four apple wines and various ciders in production, many of which use traditional techniques and heirloom varieties. Most of their Ciders are produced in the Farmhouse style of Southwest England
Cider styles were defined based on the methods used, the apples available and local tastes. Farmhouse cider is a broad category to describe ciders that were historically produced using open vessels and spontaneous fermentation – much like farmhouse beer. Farmhouse cider was produced by both the French and the English, but the English versions were generally higher in alcohol and much drier than French renditions.
The Maiden Rock Honeycrisp Hard Cider has the distinctive notes of the apple itself, starting sweet and finishing crisp and tart. The farmhouse style means it is quite funky and barnyardy, too, unlike most apple ciders. It would pair well with fruit, cheddar cheese, or cut the heaviness of more robust fall stews.