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Market-hot Angry Orchard Cider sinks $9.275 million into an Innovation Cider House research facility at its new Hudson Valley orchard.

John Vogel, Editor, American Agriculturist

November 15, 2015

4 Min Read

Angry Orchard Cider Company's recent opening of its Innovation Cider House near Walden, N.Y., received a governor's welcome. Governor Andrew Cuomo praised the company for making its new 60-acre apple orchard in the Hudson Valley home for the company's small-batch cidery, tasting room, and hard cider research and development center.

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Angry Orchard is a Cincinnati, Ohio, subsidiary of Boston Beer Company, which also owns the Samuel Adams beer brand. With a $9.1 million investment plus a $175,000 Empire State Development capital grant to cover cidery machinery and equipment, the Innovation Center is already in business at the orchard previously owned and operated as Crist Brothers Orchard at Walden, N.Y. The Crist family will continue to operate the orchard and retain all related jobs, according to Angry Orchard officials..

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"After months of building, picking apples and making research plans, we're thrilled to be opening the doors to the Innovation Cider House," says Ryan Burk, Angry Orchard's head cider maker at this orchard. "The community has been so enthusiastic and cooperative in helping us establish roots in the region."
Governor Cuomo called Angry Orchard's investment a good fit for the Empire State. "We wish them well as they join the extremely successful community of brewers, wine makers, distillers and cider producers that are creating world-class products. With hundreds of orchards growing amazing apples, it's not surprising that cideries are booming all across this state."
New York State Ag Commissioner Richard Ball says the company's expansion "shines the spotlight on New York as a leader in the agriculture and craft beverage industry. We're the second largest producer of apples in the country and grow more varieties than any other state. That provides great opportunity for our unique beverage producers. We applaud Angry Orchard's partnership with the Crist family, which has a long history of apple growing in the region."

Hard cider is red-hot

Angry Orchard Cider has put a hard, aggressive growth edge on today's cider industry. It's been a major player in the industry achieving a 75% annual growth for the last five years, according to the U.S. Association of Cider Makers. While developing the business is a long jump, concede industry experts, it's a short leap from cider having less than 7% alcohol to wine having no less than 7%.

The company uses apples from Europe and the United States, relying heavily on English and French bittersweet varieties. In its first year, the cider was only available in New England, Colorado, Maryland and New York. In 2012, it went nationwide and quickly captured 40% of the U.S. hard cider market, rising to 50% by 2014 and comprising 20% of the Boston Brewing Company's output.

The Innovation Cider House will be home to R&D efforts, including small batch experimentation with different ingredients, apple varieties, recipes and processes. Ciders developed at Walden may eventually become part of the Angry Orchard family of ciders available nationwide.
"We're constantly trying new things," says Burk. "We put our own twist on traditional ciders and are constantly experimenting with new processes and techniques." says Burk. "Our goal is to develop interesting new styles for tasting on-site."

The Cider House presses apples from this and other surrounding orchards. It has different ciders fermenting at any one time in traditional tanks, plus a nano system for running small experimental batches, he explains.

"At Angry Orchard, we love aging cider on wood. Barrel wood expands and contracts with the season, allowing the characteristics of the barrel to blend with those of cider. At our Cider House, we use both small wooden barrels and large wooden tuns to age our cider. We're also experimenting with wild fermentation, which adds unique farmhouse qualities to the cider."

The orchard and cider house will be open one more weekend this fall – Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 20, 21 and 22. It's located at 2241 Albany Post Road, Walden, N.Y. Phone: 888-845-3311

For more information, click on angryorchard. Note: You must be 21 or older to enter the website. No, we're not kidding.

About the Author(s)

John Vogel

Editor, American Agriculturist

For more than 38 years, John Vogel has been a Farm Progress editor writing for farmers from the Dakota prairies to the Eastern shores. Since 1985, he's been the editor of American Agriculturist – successor of three other Northeast magazines.

Raised on a grain and beef farm, he double-majored in Animal Science and Ag Journalism at Iowa State. His passion for helping farmers and farm management skills led to his family farm's first 209-bushel corn yield average in 1989.

John's personal and professional missions are an integral part of American Agriculturist's mission: To anticipate and explore tomorrow's farming needs and encourage positive change to keep family, profit and pride in farming.

John co-founded Pennsylvania Farm Link, a non-profit dedicated to helping young farmers start farming. It was responsible for creating three innovative state-supported low-interest loan programs and two "Farms for the Future" conferences.

His publications have received countless awards, including the 2000 Folio "Gold Award" for editorial excellence, the 2001 and 2008 National Association of Ag Journalists' Mackiewicz Award, several American Agricultural Editors' "Oscars" plus many ag media awards from the New York State Agricultural Society.

Vogel is a three-time winner of the Northeast Farm Communicators' Farm Communicator of the Year award. He's a National 4-H Foundation Distinguished Alumni and an honorary member of Alpha Zeta, and board member of Christian Farmers Outreach.

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