​Cider Corner: How Important is a Judges’ Feedback?​

Vander Mill participates yearly in the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry competition and they submit a large portion of its offerings for judging.

Each year that the Grand Rapids, Michigan cidery has entered they tell Brewer they have been fortunate enough to take home multiple medals … including gold.

This year was no exception as the cidery’s Hopped Zero cider took gold in its category.

“Yet, while we are grateful for the consistent wins, we definitely do pay attention to the times when Ciders or Perries that we’ve entered don’t do as well as we would have hoped,” they wrote in a staff-curated email. “Our goal is to only produce products that we can be proud of. Aligning our tastes with the impressions of seasoned tasters is a part of that production process.”

Entering contests and looking for judging feedback can be important, but as the Vander Mill staff alludes to, medals are nice … sales are more important as that shows what consumers care about, purchasing the product that suits them best.

“We love to tout the medals that our core and high-end ciders win,” they wrote. “We feel the Michigan apples we press and the ciders we make are some of the best in the world.

“That said, our best-selling ciders tend to win the least amount of medals. The medals tend to open sales doors, but aren’t always what the retailer and public can sell.”

READ MORE: Cider Corner: Feedback the Key for Alma in GLINTCAP Win

​Being a cidery that stresses the use of all Michigan apples​, Vander Mill said that’s the biggest thing for consumers to keep in mind.​ That can mean some judging criticisms may not be able to be tweaked for the judge’s personality. ​

​”​The flavor we achieve by using high-quality local apples is evident in every cider we produce​,” they wrote. “Most other cider-makers use apples from distant places, but ours all come from within one hour of our cidery. We also press our local apples on-site here at Vander Mill.

​”​Cider is a great category of beverage that shouldn’t be looked at as an alternative to beer but stands on its own. We take what we make seriously, but all consumption should be fun and welcoming, not just for the uber-knowledgeable fan.​”​

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