(This is the second in our series of cider visits from our trip to the Finger Lakes. Read about our visit to Eve's Cidery here.)
The drive down into the valley where the original tasting room for Cider Creek Hard Cider sits is a little treacherous on a snowy day. The road is unpaved, striped by sections of gravel where, presumably, the water tends to run off the hill and across the road that cuts through the family farm. On either side, cattle graze in fields and at the edge of the forest.
You might think you’ve taken a wrong turn.
And then at the bottom of the hill, a big barn with a small parking lot. The eponymous creek runs alongside.
Inside, the first thing that catches your eye is the fermentation tanks: hulking stainless steel, shiny and bright. Behind the tanks, a row of stacked barrels. This is a space made for production.
The other side is designed for tasting and talking. In one corner, a large stone fireplace invites you to cozy up in a comfy chair. Old barrels serve as four-top tables. The bar is long, as is the list of ciders on tap.
Kevin, co-owner and head cider maker, bounces between the tasks of running a cidery: pitching yeast, cleaning tanks, solving distribution problems with vendors. In between, he walks us through his ciders and tells us a bit about the family farm and his background (many years of home cidermaking before starting Cider Creek).
The modern ciders--made from NY state apples, some grown on the family farm--are all clean and crisp, straddling the dry/sweet divide. And they are excellent. Cider Creek rightfully boasts on their website that they are the most awarded NY state farm cidery at GLINTCAP (the world's largest cider competition).
Saison Reserve pulls fruity esters from the Saison yeast. Mostly dry, the sweetness is suggested by that fruitiness more than the result of residual sugar.
Cran Mango confuses a bit, fighting between the tropical touch of mango and earthy cranberry. This sweet/tart combo works and would be especially welcome and refreshing on a sweltering summer day (which we intend to do).
Winter’s Cinn reminds us of the first spiced cider we loved when we started our cider journey (Jack’s Fireside). Warm winter spices, cinnamon, orange peel perhaps.
Dreams of Charlotte, a sour cider with passion fruit and lychee. On a list of accessible ciders, it’s always nice to find something that challenges a bit. DoC is a sour beer drinker’s cider.
If you find yourself driving across the Southern Tier Expressway in New York, Cider Creek is an easy 20-minute cider detour. Or, you can go a little farther east to their tasting room in Hammondsport one of our favorite little towns, way down at the base of beautiful Keuka Lake). Well worth your time.