6 Small-Batch Midwest Cideries Experimenting with Classic and Unexpected Flavors
Order a flight of hard cider and you'll be treated to a spectrum of colors, from pale pink to rich amber. Start tasting—though they're all made from fermented apple juice, some ciders are sweet, bursting with fresh apples and sunshine, while others have earthy undertones and a pleasant bitterness. "Ciders are as varied as beer is," says Breezee Hennings, president and cofounder of Wild Terra Cider Company in Fargo, North Dakota. "You may not like every style of cider, but there is a cider out there for everyone." As the Midwest's scene continues to grow, makers are experimenting with classic and unexpected flavors, like wild-fermented versions made from heritage apples and a gummy candy-infused quaff. Seek out a cider education this season—when the weather is just as crisp as an apple.
Two K Farms, Suttons Bay, Michigan
With panoramic views of West Grand Traverse Bay, Two K Farms is home to one of the largest heritage cider apple orchards in the Midwest: more than 22,000 trees, representing 30-plus English, French and Colonial American varieties. "To make more traditional ciders, you need this fruit," says co-owner Max Koskela. "You can't make these out of Red Delicious." Cider apples contain tannins that lend a more nuanced, complex flavor to Two K Farms' offerings. Their old-world cider is inspired by the type patrons would find on tap in a British pub or French cafe.
Saro Cider, Lincoln, Nebraska
Michigan. Florida. Spain. Mexico. Inspired by places near and far—and flavored with ingredients like cherry, grapefruit, citrus and jalapeño—Saro's ciders channel the adventurous spirit of travel. The Lincoln taproom breathes wanderlust, too: Its low-key elegance evokes a vintage airport lounge, with midcentury modern furnishings and luxe metallic accents. In the fall, Saro offers a spiced apple cider in a large bottle format, perfect for Thanksgiving gatherings.
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Winterset Cidery, Winterset, Iowa
If only Clint Eastwood and Meryl Streep could have visited Winterset Cidery, a lovely spot not far from the storied covered bridges of Madison County. Order a glass or flight inside a post-and-beam barn-style tasting room, or on a deck overlooking the orchard. Owners Nick and Niña Williams took over the operation in 2019 and are perfecting small-batch recipes that are aged several months for the best flavor. Heat-lovers should try the Lime Habanero (Nick's favorite). Apple Pie (Niña's top pick) is a crowd favorite.
Right Bee Cider, Chicago
Chicago's first cidery started with a romantic gesture: Charlie Davis made Katie Morgan some cider as a gift. When the couple founded their cidery, they used their love story as inspiration—Right Bee Cider is a play on "right beside her." The name refers to the cidery's rooftop beehives, too, which produce honey used to sweeten the ciders, including the semidry Rosé. The bees also pollinate the wildflowers that grow on the train tracks outside the taproom, which is located in a repurposed Schwinn bicycle factory in the Hermosa neighborhood.
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Wild Terra Cider Company, Fargo, North Dakota
At Wild Terra, you might drink cider infused with chai spices or gummy worms , or one made entirely from apples donated by the community. "We push ourselves to break out of the norm of what a 'typical' cider is supposed to be," says President Breezee Hennings. Similar to the tap list, the taproom's decor leans funky, with nearly 200 potted plants, rainbow-hued lighting and a bathroom wall covered with vintage cassette tapes. Take the vibes home with a six-pack of groovy patterned cans.
Milk and Honey Ciders, St. Joseph, Minnesota
This country cider house ferments traditional cider apples to produce small batch, farmhouse-style libations. "The amount of things going on in terms of complexity, body and aroma—you'll notice you're drinking something different than mass-market cider," says cofounder Peter Gillitzer. Their Kingston Black is made with wild yeast and English bittersharp apples that produce distinctive notes of citrus and smoked bacon.