In this article we are going to cover natural apple beer brewed in Michigan, but before we do, we have important information every apple beer enthusiast needs to know.
Here at Blake’s Hard Cider we are committed to brewing the best Michigan apple cider beer in the history of the state. We left no stone unturned when we created fan favorites such as Cider ‘Till I Die, the official cider sponsor for the city of Detroit, Aurora, a summer seasonal cider with hints of peach, rosemary and lemon peel, or our latest offering coming August 2016 Black Phillip, a dark concoction of cranberry and blood oranges.
So what qualifies as natural apple beer brewed in Michigan?
First, the obvious. It must be brewed by Michigan hard cider mills and makers.
Second, it must be apple beer (hard cider).
Third, upon taking a sip of Michigan cider beer, you’re eyes should widen; then you smile as you look up into the sky as if you’re solving a problem, and react with a “Wow!” As if you were a kid in the candy store (well, technically, you are, a candy store for grown ups that is *wink* *wink*).
That’s the criteria.
A History on Michigan Cider Beer Houses
America’s first drink is on the cusp of enjoying a resurrection unseen since Christ himself.
Originally, apple flavored beer brands was this countries drink of choice until it’s seat was over-thrown by beer-loving immigrants along with the prohibition era and lost favor with the general population. Gradually hard cider was relegated as little more than non-alcoholic apple beer soda at best or a sugary soft drink when compared to wine and beer.
Fortunately, times have changed. Oh, how they changed! Cider has been reclaimed and although it’s been a slow, long journey pioneered by the likes of the founders of Blake’s Apple Farm during the lean years when it was merely a thought in the minds of Michiganders, perseverance payed off in this sudden unexpected turn of events in the homebrew apple beer industry.
Along with Blake’s, Michigan’s cider industry is making a strong comeback like a Hail Mary pass in the last few seconds of the game winning touchdown pass. Although it’s still in it’s infancy it is growing like a newborn baby drinking milk on steroids. And Michigan, with it’s vast acres of apple trees, is a natural home to new generations of cider-makers.
Fact is, cider has always been here. It was something farmers made but kept to their friends and family until demand began to outgrow the farmers immediate family and now, with only 10 years since commercial cider-making began to take root in the Mitten state, hard cider has been growing at an astonishing annual rate of 27.5 percent (roughly 601.5 million dollars in revenue according to the IBIS Worldwide market research group).
Not surprisingly Michigan benefits from that thirst as new jobs are created by the thousands to support local, national and international demands. Now instead of taking a weekend trip to wineries for tastings, folks are visiting us scheduling cider tours and tastings with the same flare and respect given to wine makers. We don’t take that honor lightly and we strive to deliver the best hard cider that has ever graced the tip of your tongue.
No longer is apple beer a sugar high you got from college when craft beer wasn’t available and your only option was the ‘alcoholic soda‘. Now it’s actively sought out as a viable substitute or compliment to your favorite beer brands.
Craft ciders are as different as the apple varieties grown in the state, ranging anywhere from slightly sweet to crisp to dry. Many make it traditionally using crushed apples, adding yeast and letting it ferment.
Speaking of tasting tours, below are a small group of us hard cider creators accepting visitors that offer such an experience for the curious drinker at heart.
Natural Apple Beer Hard Cideries Brewed In Michigan
McIntosh Orchards, South Haven – MI
Doubling as both a winery and Cider Mill, McIntosh offers dry and semi-dry varieties made with real fruit grown on-site.
McIntosh Orchards is a place where families can come for fun of all ages. While children enjoy fresh pressed cider, eat homemade cider donuts and play in the orchards, parents can enjoy the winery’s tasting bar for some olde world style hand crafted hard cider.
Unique to McIntosh is an ice cider, a dessert cider made like ice wine. Made for sipping, this ice cider has a very strong aroma with a spicy finish.
You can visit their website at mcintoshorchards.com for more information.
Northern Natural Cider House, Traverse City – MI
Yet another winery and cider mill, it’s tasting room is located in downtown Traverse City featuring five ciders, including it’s best seller lavender apple, a traditional cider with subtle lavender notes. The tasting room has live music and a robust food menu.
You can visit their website at northernnaturalwinery.com for more information.
Vander Mill, Spring Lake – MI
This winery and cider ill is known for several delicious hard ciders including Blue Gold, made from blueberries, and Totally Roasted, made from cinnamon and pecans (yuuuuum!). During apple season, on Saturdays you can see how the cider is created from scratch; like the good ol’ days!
You can visit their website at vandermill.com for more information.
Almar Orchard’s, Flushing – MI
No formal tasting room here, just a charming rustic farm store to sample four varieties of hard cider all year-round with tours available for those who schedule and call ahead of time. Owner Jim Koan grows all of his own apples and uses the same recipe and methods his great-grandfather did back in 60’s…
…1860’s that is.
That same original recipe, Farmhouse, is his top seller well-over a century later. Any hard cider with that level of staying power simply deserves to be tasted at least once. It’s worth the trip as you can get it no where else but Almar’s.
You can visit their website at almarorchards.com for more information.
Blake’s Hard Cider, Armada – MI
Certainly this list wouldn’t be complete without including Blake’s very own.
Since the birth of this division in 2013 spearheaded by co-owner Paul Blake, a second generation family owner, we have been growing by leaps and bounds.
We are proud to serve in the beautiful city of Armada and look forward to expanding our reach even further beyond Michigan borders.
Our Summer and Fall Hours are as follows:
Monday-Wednesday, Sunday 11:00 am – 6:00pm
Sunday Brunch 10:00am-2:00pm (Call for reservations)
You can visit our main website at BlakesHardCider.com for more information.
This concludes the article for natural apple beer brewed in Michigan.
We invite you to visit any one of the locations on this list and enjoy the selections on tap.
We don’t claim to know everything, but this much we do know; there is no beer like Michigan cider beer. Put us against the nationally known brands and we outwork them, out create them and out-flavor them by 3-to-1.
Ali said, “I am the GREATEST”, and we Michiganders believe “WE are the GREATEST!”. We are David and they are Goliath. Sure other brands and states may have larger producers with bigger brands, but we always come through with the mindset to win it in the end.
You can count on us to deliver the best drinking experience you’ve ever had consistently.
But of course, we’re boasting a bit (smiles). Don’t take our word for it. Try us for yourself and see if our words hold true. Frankly, our words don’t do our cider justice. And we believe you’ll feel the same way, too.
And as always, my friend, drink responsibly.