July 2019: Cider of the Month:
Aaron Burr Cidery’s Homestead Locational Cider: Neversink Highlands
Last week, I had to drive up to the Southern Tier of New York State, and I decided to take the Delaware River road out of the northwestern highlands tip of New Jersey, stopping in the storied town of Callicoon. I say storied, because this is a fond and familiar town to many older Franciscan friars, who remember St. Joseph’s novitiate house which used to stand on a hill outside town, but no more. So in addition to being a cute little town on the Delaware, it is also a place where many fine young men dedicated themselves to God, and so for me, an apt place to find a really great cider.
The Callicoon Farmer’s Market is on Sundays, and there are several cider-makers there, and I hope to try all their wares eventually. I settled on the vendor at the very end of the row, which turned out to be the Aaron Burr Cidery (Sorry, Alexander Hamilton fans), and since the narrator of my audio book is a Barr, and because I’m always seeing signs and omens in everything…I decided to give it a go. The free sample was an additional incentive. I don’t usually care for dry cider (and this is quite dry), but it was so interesting when it hit my tongue, I decided to splurge on a bottle (and at $17 for about 16 ounces or so (500 ML), it’s a bit pricy, but worth it) to share with my husband back home.
The Burr cidery uses foraged, abandoned apples for this particular cider, likely from trees planted in earlier centuries, and it’s beautifully bottled and corked. The brewer, Andy Brennan (also, as it turns out, an author; I just ordered his book about cider, Uncultivated) is a serious cider-maker, and from the label, I even picked up a new bit of cider-vocabulary: lees, which refers to the remains of the used-up yeast in the fermentation process. This cider certainly has lees, and decanting is suggested, but we just poured the cider into our glasses willy-nilly, and the lees are pretty much stayed at the bottom of the bottle. It’s wonderfully champagne-fizzy coming out of the bottle and has a rich apple-y aroma. The taste is quite distinctive, like no other cider I’ve had before, almost feral, wild and a touch on the funky side. But delicious, and probably very close to the “cyder” our ancestors drank in the good old days. It’s like a meat-and-potatoes cider, and a very good cider to drink with dinner (as opposed to sipping it on its own), and especially complements old-fashioned comfort food—like, meat and potatoes. But I think vegans, such as my beloved daughter, would like it, too.
The cidery is located not in Callicoon (though you’ll find it at their weekly Farmer’s Market) but in the not-too-faraway Catskills town of Wurtsboro. For more information, check out their website, AaronBurrCider.com.