Hard cider, once the prevailing nectar of colonial days past, is having a renaissance. Though it was knocked off the radar in the mid-19th century, the recent interest in craft beer has taken artisanal cider along for the ride. And for hyper-local aficionados, there's no lack of appeal when it comes to regional varieties of apples influencing flavors from batch to batch.
Ohio is one of the nation's top 10 apple producing states, so it's no surprise a traveling cider-themed party like Rock the Core will land in Cleveland. On Sept. 12, Washington D.C. event group Drink the District (drinkthedistrict.com) brings its newest iteration of day drinking to Voinovich Park for two tasting sessions (1 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 9 p.m.). The group has traveled around the country for the past four years showcasing craft brews from assorted cities, often taking Cleveland's Great Lakes Brewing Company on the road.
"It was a no-brainer to bring our first event to Cleveland," says co-founder Steuart Martens. "The Ohio cider scene is exploding, and in other cities and in our home market in D.C., Ohio beers have been doing really well."
Attendees will be able to sample more than 30 ciders, including plenty of locals. Keys on Main, a Seattle dueling pianos band, will liven things up and food trucks like Cleveland's Betty's Bomb Ass Burgers, Barrio and Stuff Yourself will be on the grounds. Tickets are $35 in advance and $50 at the door. Promo code "RockIt" gets you a $10 discount.
For beer drinkers, it's a state-wide affair, with Akron's Thirsty Dog, Cincinnati's Rivertown Brewing Company, Columbus' Four String Brewing Co. and our own Buckeye Brewing Co. represented.
Expect to see plenty of small batch ciders fresh-brewed from Ohio apples, like Columbus-based Mad Moon Craft Cidery, which has flavors like the county fair-inspired Unglued Caramel Apple. Redhead Ciderhouse brings its beverage from Berlin Heights, where apples are pressed, fermented and packaged on site at Burnham Orchards. Kentucky Pete's will make the haul from Cincinnati to bring a cask apple cider and cherry cider aged in bourbon barrels.
"Cider's making a really big comeback nationwide; there's an allure to it," Martens says. "It has a lot of history and tradition in this country that I don't think a lot of people know about. This is one of the ways we can share that."
Most recognizable to the Cleveland crowd will be Griffin Cider Works (griffinciderworks.com). Richard Read, who had been brewing since he was 14 in his native British countryside, longed for the cider back home and founded his company in 2010. Recently, he opened Lakewood's Griffin Cider House.
"The popularity of cider all goes hand in hand with the farm-to-plate following," says Read. "More and more people are conscious of where things are coming from. We care very much now about our local economies and a lot of people are paying attention to this and discovering all kinds of new foods and drinks, too."
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