The U.S. hard cider industry has grown by leaps and bounds in the past few years. A traditional beverage overseas, cider had early adoption in this country, but had fallen out of favor with the passing of time. Fast forward to the 21st century, and cider is back in a big way. The reasons for the resurgence are plentiful – the growing interest in gluten-free diets (cider is naturally gluten-free), the strength of the farm-to-table (or glass) movement and the growth in general of craft beverages. Although there are several national players in the market, local and regional cideries are thriving.
We are fortunate to have one of the leaders in the field just down the road in Nellysford, Va. Bold Rock Cider, the award-winning undertaking of master cider maker Brian Shanks and his partner John Washburn, has received dozens of awards for its flagship Virginia Apple and Virginia Draft ciders. In 2014, the cidery saw an expansion of its lineup with Bold Rock Pear, and this year brings another flavor to the family – Bold Rock Honeydew.
Honeydew, as the name implies, marries apples grown at Bold Rock orchards in the Blue Ridge Mountains with honeydew melon. The sweetness of the melon blends with the tartness of the apples to create a flavor that is light and slightly sweet, with a tart finish. Best accompanied by summer dishes, the flavor is a seasonal release and will be available in bottles and on draught through the summer or while supplies last.
When asked what inspired the new flavor, Shanks explained that, “As the largest regional craft cidery in the U.S., Bold Rock stays true to our roots by staying connected with our consumers. Our tap rooms allow us to try some of our new recipes out with our loyal consumers and get their feedback. They love being a part of the process and we value their input. One thing that we are seeing right now is [that] our growing millennial consumer base likes to experiment with new styles of cider. Similar to what is happening in craft beer with brewers blending grapefruit and lemon lime with IPA, Bold Rock is constantly experimenting to blend other natural flavors into our ciders.”
Bold Rock has an IPA of their own. In late 2015, they released their India Pressed Apple, a cider dry-hopped with a blend of five hops, including Centennial, Cascade and Citra. When asked about plans for future releases, Shanks replied that, “[Our] IPA has been very successful both on tap and in six pack bottles, and will be launched in cans and as part of our Variety Crate this summer. Honeydew is our first seasonal style, but Bold Rock will continue to look at new recipes that could later become new styles, and we anticipate some being announced later this year.”
Bold Rock Cider: 1020 Rockfish Valley Hwy. (Rt. 151), Nellysford, VA;www.boldrockcider.com