Airing between regular episodes of the VinePair Podcast, “Next Round” explores the ideas and innovations that are helping drinks businesses adapt in a time of unprecedented change. As the coronavirus crisis continues and new challenges arise, VP Pro is in your corner, supporting the drinks community for all the rounds to come. If you have a story or perspective to share, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
In this “Next Round,” Ryan Burk, head cider maker at Angry Orchard, joins VinePair CEO and co-founder Adam Teeter to discuss the hard cider brand’s origins, latest developments, and what makes it so ornery.
Angry Orchard, founded in 2012 and owned by the Boston Beer Company, is the top-selling hard cider brand in the U.S. Located in Walden, N.Y., in the Hudson Valley region, the cidery’s bitter persona is a playful reference to the types of apples it grows: Used specifically for cider making, the fruits have higher levels of acidity and tannins, making them ideal for fermentation but not to eat.
As Burk explains, during the rise of hard cider in the early 2010s, the beverage category was often seen as an alternative to beer. It’s also compared to wine, as the wine- and cider-making processes are similar. However, Burk argues that hard cider is its own unique category that should not be compared to beer nor wine — and especially not to hard seltzer. Burk hopes that hard cider is able to stand on its own and break free from the identity of an alternative for craft beer or wine drinkers.
As the brand moves forward, Angry Orchard is working on new, innovative products that highlight the category and the apples grown in this region. Visitors can experience the cidery’s newer offerings that are only available in New York State, which include a bourbon-barrel-aged cider and a Mint Julep-inspired cider that uses surplus mint from the mint farmer who usually supplies the Kentucky Derby.
With this year’s harvest season beginning in August, it’s officially time for apple and agriculture lovers to tune in to the conversation with Burk below.