Cider Road Trip: Denver

Around Memorial Day, Sean and I traveled to Denver for The 2nd Annual Cider Week Colorado and The Pressed Conference. Denver is a relatively short plane trip (~2.5 hrs) from Chicago, but the mountains make it feel like it is the world away. While we didn’t get the chance to explore the wilderness we did get the opportunity to try several amazing ciders and met some incredible cider lovers.

Colorado Cider Company

When we arrived our first stop was Colorado Cider Company, Denver’s 1st cidery (est. 2011). We sampled all 16 of their ciders on tap in two amazing flights. The standout was Block One A blend of eleven of bittersweet apples from Colorado Cider’s own orchard. This lightly sparkling, slightly hazy, dry cider finishes with the taste of apple skin. At 8.5% ABV this makes for a great lazy summer drinker.

We also really enjoyed the Radl’ah Session Cider, which has strong citrus notes from lemongrass and lemon balm (think cider lemonade) and lower alcohol content (4.5 ABV). And the Cherry Glider (which our Lyft driver also recommended), that starts with an off-dry base cider (the Glider) and finished with a slight bit of tartness from the addition of the cherries.

Stem Ciders

Our next stop was Stem Ciders. We first had their cider at Cider Summit Chicago and their off-dry is one of our main go-to ciders for groups. During their (packed) Cider Week event we sampled some of their special releases including Banjo (seasonal) – a bourbon barrel (from Laws Whiskey House) aged (10 m0) cider with a light apple nose and whiskey, spicy, vanilla tastes & Ancho Chili Raspberry (Firkin – i.e., small batch experimental) – slightly sweet and tart at first but the spice (I love spice) hits the back of the throat on the way down. We also tried the Novo Coffee Cider. If you want cider for breakfast this would be your go-to. The taste has the bitterness and tannins of coffee ground blended with warm apple flavors.

The Pressed Conference

On Saturday we headed to the Highlands for The Pressed Conference – Colorado’s cider festival featuring dozens of cideries, with the majority located in the Rocky Mountain Region. The day started with torrential rains, but by the time we arrived at the fest the sun was out.

We tried a lot of amazing ciders but there were several standouts.

Talbott’s Cider Company’s  Grow a Pear is a Perry back sweetened with Resiling. The perry is off-dry with slightly tart pear flavors and finishes with the slight sweetness from the resiling. Their IPC is an “IPA” style cider. The cider is steeped with several hops and also dry hopped. While this cider contained several hops, Talbott’s was very restrained in the addition resulting in a cider with a crisp and bright apple taste with slight citrus flavor and clean finish.

Snow Capped Cider‘s Magna Pomum is a blend of bitter sharp and bittersweet back sweetened with gewürztraminer. Dry, clean apple taste at first but finished with a slight sweetness from the wine. Sour Cherry has a nice dryness from the cherries which enhance (rather than overpower) the bright apple flavors. The Colorado Peach has slightly ripe peach flavors intermingled with the apple.

A unique cider combo we tasted was the Salty Pomme, a combination of Stem Ciders’ Hopped Apple Cider, a Cascade and Citra dry hopped cider, and The Real Dill’s Salted Cucumber Juice. The saltiness helped balance the slight bitterness of the cucumber juice, which added a layer of complexity to the citrus and floral notes of the hopped cider making for a refreshing summer drink.

Thanks Denver for an AMAZING cider trip!