In 2015, we set out on a project that would enable us to make cider prior to the opening of our first location. We had our only vessel, the 660-gallon Barolo oak cask now at our restaurant, sent to Millstone Cellars in Monkton, MD, where we filled it with a blend of cider they had on hand. The resulting product was distinctively Millstone but unlike anything they’d made before, as the cask imparted a feint but distinctive influence. The collaboration was a bigger success than we could have imagined and encouraged us to expand our collaborative aspirations.
The same apple tree grown in different soils, climates, or years can produce widely varying fruit. Understanding this terroir in our own environ through experimentation with local apples is fascinating, but so too is a study of the widely varying iterations of apples in other locales. Renowned cider-makers the world over have opened their doors to us, sharing techniques, apples and a piece of their unique mystique, and our collaborations will continue even after the opening of the Brightwood Park location.
Showcasing the traditional producers from which these ciders come is as important as growing the ANXO brand and we are always transparent about the process in which they were made. Usually, we travel to the collaborative cidery and work with the fruit and cider stocks they have on hand. Because the key to any great cider is blending, we are able to make a significant impact by choosing what goes into it, but the final product is most certainly still a reflection of the cidery from which it came.
Collaboration #1 (Millstone)
Our riff on a Northern Spanish style cider. A blend of York, Jonathan, and Stayman Winesap apples, fermented in 13 different oak barrels and then blended together. After blending it was aged three months in a 660-gallon Italian Barolo wine barrel. The result is very bright, tart cider of 7.4% ABV with subtle hints of wine, tannin, and oak from barrel-aging. Winner of a silver medal for Spanish-style cider at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Festival (GLINTCAP).
Collaboration #2 (Millstone)
This cider is a blend of York, Jonathan, and Northern Spy apples all fermented individually in oak barrels. That cider was then blended with a portion of Millstone's Farmgate cider and left un-carbonated and still. The result is a dry, tart, but fruity cider that features the green melon flavors of Northern Spy apples. The lack of carbonation gives it a richly textured mouthfeel similar to wine. Winner of a bronze medal for Spanish-style cider at the Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Festival (GLINTCAP). ABV 7.5%
Collaboration #3 (Eden)
This cider is a blend of 19 different heirloom apple varieties. This is a completely natural cider, there are no sulfites added, and it underwent a natural yeast fermentation. After fermentation it was aged seven months in stainless steel to mature and intensify flavor. We see this cider as an extremely pure expression of the fruit and terroir of Vermont and closer to wine than anything else. As such, we did not carbonate it so the bubbles wouldn't distract from the purity of the fruit. The end result is a bone dry, high acid cider that is both earthy and fruity with a touch of tannin. ABV 6.7%
COLLABORATION #4 (Eden)
The same cider as #3 but this cider goes through a secondary fermentation in the bottle, which adds extremely fine champagne-like bubbles. Description:
This cider is a blend of 19 different heirloom apple varieties. This is a completely natural cider, there are no sulfites added, and it underwent a natural yeast fermentation. After fermentation it was aged seven months in stainless steel to mature and intensify flavor. Secondary fermentation in the bottle, which adds extremely fine champagne-like bubbles, ups the alcohol, and makes it lean a little earthier than #3. The end result is a bone dry, high acid cider that is both earthy and fruity with a touch of tannin. ABV 7.5%
COLLABORATION #5 (shacksbury)
Our first cider in cans! Blended at Shacksbury in Vermont after a long tasting and blending session with cidermaker Colin Davis. This cider is primarily made with wild apples foraged from Dorset Mountain in Danby, VT. We then blended in cider made from apples sourced from Dragon Orchards in England, and a cider made from all organic apples from the famous Petritegi ciderhouse in Basque Country.
#5 is a medium-bodied cider with lots of red berry notes, great acidity, moderate tannin, and slate and stone on the finish. This is just as much at home on the dinner table as it on a beach or a tailgate. ABV 6.2%
COLLABORATION #6 (farnum hill)
We may as well all this one "Pilgrimage." We were very honored to be invited to the vaunted Farnum Hill to make cider with Steve Wood and his team. Steve has been growing cider apples and making cider in New Hampshire for 30 years. That's about 25 years before it became cool or profitable to do that. Steve and his team use a very thoughtful and deliberate tasting process when blending that helps them produce ciders of uncommon character. We learned more about tasting cider in a day there than we have in the last year.
A blend of four different ciders, #6 exemplifies the house character of Farnum Hill: one that we LOVE. It is a cider that is dry, high in acid, has fruit notes for days, and has just enough tannin to give body and structure to the cider without being bitter. ABV 7.7%