While we were there, we really enjoyed their two signature ciders, Cinnamon Girl and Henry’s Pippin. Henry’s Pippin has 10 different apple varieties which are blended using a Solera Method where portions of the blends are from different vintages producing a complex, but mellow cider. Cinnamon Girl has a wonderful cinnamon flavor which is a result of whole cinnamon sticks being steeped in the fermented cider from 4-6 weeks before bottling.
So when we planned our trip to Traverse City, Left Foot Charley was at the top of our list. The cidery is a few miles outside of the central business district in a building which was part of a (now closed) psychiatric hospital. The tasting room is bright and airy with a few high tables and a nice bar. They had a nice selection of food which paired very nicely with the ciders and cider cocktails we tried.
There were several stand outs for us including Antrim County Cider, The Cunning Ham, and Perry Hannah.
Antrim County Cider was brought back by popular demand as it was often requested long after its limited release. This single origin cider was produced with late harvest apples that were allowed to further ripen off the tree. This stainless steel cold fermented cider has a wonderful warm, semi-dry apple flavor. The Cunning Ham is a farmhouse style cider fermented in French Oak and bottled unfiltered. The cider has the dry, tannic flavors that are often found in European ciders. The Perry Hannah is a perry made from Michigan pears named after the founder of Traverse City – Perry Hannah. The flavors of this cider, which was a limited release available on tap, are reminiscent of ripe juicy pears that Sean used to pull off of his Grandmother’s pear tree in Vandalia, MI.
After leaving Left Foot Charley we stopped at Taproot Cider House – a cider bar that we had noticed the day before when driving through town. We were told that Taproot was relatively new and one of the few places to get Northern Natural on tap – a cidery that was once in Traverse City, but had moved south.
The first time we went in (of course we went twice) we tried the House Madagascar Vanilla Bean Barrel Aged and Blake’s El Chavo.
The El Chavo has nice heat from the habanero and the mangos added a tropical sweetness to the apple notes, but the cider was a bit sweet for me so I switched with Sean. The Vanilla Bean cider has a much higher alcohol content than most ciders (12%), but the flavors were not abrasive. The bourbon flavors from the barrel aging were nicely balanced out by the vanilla producing a semi-dry cider. We went back to Taproot to try out their cider flight. Taproot has create your own flights from the ciders on draft which allowed us to try all of the Northern Natural ciders.
Some of the standouts for us were the Orange Blossom, a semi-dry cider with light citrus notes that complemented the warmness of the apples flavors and Cranberry Ginger, a semi-sweet cider that had a bit of spiciness from the ginger and some tartness from the cranberry.