11: A Tale of Two Ciders, Brew Review
Brew Review: Connecticut Ciders
Stop 1: New England Cider Company (110 N Plains Industrial Rd A, Wallingford, CT 06492)
Stop 2: Stafford Cidery (68 Main St, Stafford Springs, CT 06076)
As the brewery craze takes hold in Connecticut, it may start to feel as if there is a Brewery on every corner. Between the beer and the wine trails, Connecticut is basically a 24/7 booze cruise. Even in the most sparsely populated sections of Connecticut, it seems you can find hand-crafted brews on every street corner. This is less true however, of Hard Cideries. The first Hard Cider Brewer in the state of Connecticut was New England Cider Company, located in Wallingford, and the second was Stafford Cidery, Home of the Crazy Cock Cider, on Main Street in Stafford Springs.
Wallingford is the home of 2 Vineyards, 4 breweries, a winery, and New England Cider Company. So the scenery for this Hard Cider stop isn't quite surprising. In contrast, I'd be hard pressed to find that I have any readers from the Stafford Springs area. Heck-I'd be impressed if any of my readers have BEEN to Stafford Springs. But Connecticut Socials drove up to the beautiful Tolland County, and we truly enjoyed our visit to the Stafford Cidery.
This is a classic tale of two ciders. One cider, hand-pressed and fermented in the "big city" of Wallingford, merely 20 minutes from the heart of New Haven. The second cider, a hand-crafted country cider, made in the heart of Tolland County, in a small town barely topping 12,000 people.
If you're jumping on the cider craze, it's definitely time for a stop at New England Cider. Their CONSTANTLY rotating flavors will keep you on your toes. New England tends to play it safe with their flavors, but never boring. Recently I have tried their Strawberry, Lavender, Blueberry, and their Rose. All fermented in house, no artificial sweeteners, flavors or coloring. At New England, they're all about the fruit and perfecting the process. This is the most authentic hard cider in New England, sources tell me they are one of the only cideries to still ferment their fruit on site!
As for the 'Crazy Cock Ciders' at Stafford Cidery, the flavors follow the name- they're a bit crazy! The Sweet Vanilla is just that, very sweet. It's not what I expect from my hard ciders, but crazy flavors is their niche. In addition, I tried their Cock-o-lot (I can't make these names up....)- which is a cider with real cocoa nibs. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with the chocolate flavor, it wasn't as overwhelming as the vanilla. The Crazy Cock Ciders also boast the Hot-Cock, which as I'm sure you can guess, has hot cayenne pepper in the cider. It wasn't my favorite, but I can definitely see where this will get a bit of buzz! They also have more "normal" flavors, a full list of ciders can be found on their website.
Overall, these are two VERY different cider experiences- and I suggest any self-proclaimed cider-lover gives them BOTH a try. The fresh fruit tastes and barrel aged strength of New England Cider Company puts it on top of my list, but the bold and "crazy" flavors at the Stafford Cidery make it a must stop shop!
Try them both this summer, and be sure to let Connecticut Socials know what you think!
A flight of the 'Crazy Cock Ciders' at Stafford Cidery
Pictured: A very excited blogger...