Cider Corner: A Friendly Contest to Promote the Industry

A pair of Wall Street Journal columnists provided the inspiration for a Saturday social media contest designed to promote some of the most interesting offerings produced by cideries.

The American Cider Association’s “Open that Cider Bottle” set for February 25 has its roots in the wine industry. It’s a nod to “Open that Bottle Night,” which was started by Dorothy J. Gaiter and John Brecher. Held on the last Saturday in February every year, the day encourages cidermakers and cider enthusiasts alike to open a special bottle and share the story behind it.

“While they may have been talking about wine, we know that there’s a lot of special bottles of cider with great stories sitting on shelves and in cellars just waiting to be opened and have their stories told,” ACA executive director Michelle McGrath said. 

The ACA is offering prizes in various categories to participants who post on Instagram on Saturday with the hashtag #openthatciderbottle and tag the association at @pickcider. Cideries that spoke to Brewer Magazine planned to participate in the contest in a variety of ways, with each finding a way to take advantage of an opportunity to promote their brand.

Amberlee Carlson at Sage Bird Ciderworks planned to follow the rules of the contest to the letter,

“We are going to open our 2020 VA Hewe’s Crab cider for #openthatciderbottle because it was our first GLINTCAP Gold medal cider,” Carlson wrote in an email to Brewer. “ It was a huge honor and affirmation for us to win that gold medal in our first year of making cider commercially.”

Maggie Pryzbylski, co-founder of Two Broads Cider, got into the act early, firing an early shot on Wednesday and took the opportunity to put multiple cider names out there.

She told Brewer she was posting during a planning meeting for the Central Coast Cider Festival, tagging Slo Cider, Shindig Cider and Bristol Cider House. The Two Broads co-founder took the opportunity to pay homage to multiple cideries in her post.

“We are huge fans of @haykinfamilycider since trying their cider first in 2020 during lockdown, and we have been a fan of the #goldenrusset apple since having a cider made from it by @wanderingaengus so many years ago,” she wrote in the post. “We are so fortunate to be able to work with a woman owned winery to swap fermentables: Sonja of @casadumetzwines helps us get grapes for I Feel Pretty and we press cider for her Cider Factory co-ferment that she does once a year.

“@farmsteadcider is something we pulled out of the cellar that we probably got through the @redfieldciderbar cider club. Mike and Liv have introduced us to myriad amazing cider makers over the years and we are very excited to share and try this pet-nat cider. I love tasting ciders from different regions and pet-nats have a certain romance to them.”

Doc Jeffry Cheskin, co-founder of Liquid Alchemy Ciderworks, planned to use the occasion to release a new cider.

“DARKNESS-4 is a 3-year project here at LAB on the heels of the 2020 Platinum medal winner  DEEPLY-ROOTED —  trying to create an even more special ‘specialty’ hard cider,” Cheskin wrote to Brewer. “DARKNESS-4 is a rare mahogany colored cider with fresh triple-crown blackberries (from Berry Good Farms — handpicked about 5 miles away from us), dark amber maple syrup (from Hall’s Maple Farm in East Dixfield Maine —  very close to my daughter’s home) and fresh hand cracked  Organic Peruvian Cacao Nibs — 7.6% ABV.   

“As proud as we were to be honored with the Platinum medal in 2020 — it put little Delaware on the cider map — we think that DARKNESS-4 is even better and unique with one of the most unique cider taste profiles we’ve ever had. 

“Medal or not,  we are so happy to introduce this unique, and incredibly delicious  hard cider to  the world and show that the range and scope of hard ciders is truly without limit.”

Cideries that don’t sell sealed products also planned to get into the act.

“We might encourage people to purchase fancy big bottles at the bar to play along on Saturday, but since we aren’t a traditional bottle shop — we can’t sell sealed products to go — then we just have to tweak the messaging a bit,” said Elisableth Osmeloski, co-founder of Scion Cider.

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