Downeast Cider - Real, Unfiltered Cider: Originated in Maine, Now in Boston

Thursday, May 12, 2016

When we were heading from the South End open market and to the SoWa open market, we saw a guy walk by with a tie dye Downeast Cider shirt, carrying plastic cups. There were lots of incredible local food and drink at both markets that you can read about in Britts post here. As soon as I saw the guy, I suspected Downeast was giving out samples of their delicious cider! 

We went over to the tent to get some samples. We tried the summer and spring ciders. The spring cider was made with New England in mind because it was almost a winter warmer type of cider. It had maple tastes and a bit of vanilla. Really good for the cold New England winters. We also tried the summer cider which had a hint of lemon and was more of a "session" cider at 4.5% abv. It has a hint of ginger in it as well to round out the flavor. The summer was our favorite seasonal. The ginger and full body of the unfiltered cider balanced out the sweet lemon flavor. Because of this, the sweetness does not overpower any of the flavor and is more of a compliment to the richer taste of the cider. It reminds you of summer at the first sip and makes you want to play a game of cornhole or can jam.

While we were sampling the ciders, we were talking with the people in the tent and taking pictures of the whole operation. We told them we wrote a travel blog that also talked a lot about Boston. (We've realized that Boston is a destination city for lots of travelers. We're just lucky enough to live here.) They asked us for our information so we gave them a business card and thanked them for the sample. 

The next week, we got an email from Max, the Taproom Manager, about coming and taking a tour at the facility. We were so happy that he reached out to us. For those of you who don't know, Brittany and I grew up in a little town in Maine. Well Downeast Cider was also born in Maine. 

Tyler and Ross started making cider when they were seniors in college, then graduated and moved to a farm in Waterville, Maine where they really "honed their craft" of creating incredible cider. They then rented a space in an old mill in Waterville and started making their cider for others. They were kegging and selling bottles of the cider there but quickly outgrew the space. They also had another problem, supply. While they were up in Maine, they had a late frost that made stalled their supply. They looked into getting the apples trucked up from Massachusetts but that proved to be much more expensive so they decided to go where the supply was and moved their operation down to Leominster, Massachusetts, the birthplace of Johnny Appleseed. 

They continued to grow quickly and out grew another space. They are now located in Charlestown Massachusetts where we headed over after work on Tuesday to visit the Cider House.

We were walked out to the office area to meet Max and Tyler. They walked us back into the taproom area where we shared some ciders. Britt and I both got a pour of a cider that's only available in the taproom. It was the Original Blend (OB) cider with a little extra alcohol content because sometimes you want a little buzz with your cider! It was really good. Tasted a bit hotter than OB but still just as full bodied and refreshing. We're hoping this one is available in cans soon! Tyler took off for a bit while Max brought us through the cider making process. The cool part of the tour is both the amazing story that Downeast has, paired with the fact that the cider house is "broken in". By that I mean the stereo speakers were hand built, there were hoses running across the fermentation area, and the canning line, as we were told, is partially run by hand. There was art around every corner too. There was an American flag made of cans and some amazing chalk art on the mixing tank. It is amazing.

When you walk into a brewery, distillery, or cider house and everything is perfect and untouched, it feels so fake. The Downeast Cider House makes you feel right at home when you walk around. Every single person we met was laid back and loved to talk about cider. You immediately understand that these guys love what they do and really put their pride and heart's into everything that bears their name. 

We learned about the ingredients that went into every can of Downeast Cider and how they are committed to using local farms for the apples that get pressed and trucked into the cider house and into the fermentation tanks. The apples are straight from Stow, Massachusetts. They use an ale yeast to ferment the pressed apple juice instead of champagne yeast like others do. This gives you that full flavor we were talking about. That, paired with the fact that they don't filter the final product, yields a real, natural, and unfiltered cider. If you haven't tried it, you need to. It is unlike any hard cider we've had on the market and is definitely our favorite cider. (Honestly. not just saying this!)

As we were walking through, I noticed these barrels racked next to the cider and asked what was in them. Max got some help from one of the other guys in the cider house to pull the nail holding back the amazing rum barreled cider glory. He kindly gave Britt and I a bit to taste and man were we impressed! Really boozy nose but when you drink your first sip, you get all of these warm vanilla and oak notes that envelop the cider really well. I wish I could fully describe the taste to you but it was complex and so delicious that I was popping in and out of cognitive thought. Seriously, great work outta them and really nice of them to allow us to try some of this great cider. 

Tyler met us back at the taproom area and shared some more cider with us. We had some more Summer which might be our new favorite summer barbecue drink of choice! We talked a lot about their story and everything about the cider house. We talked about distribution, good beers we love, good places to drink beer and cider. Then we started talking to them about their big move in the September time frame. They will be headed out to East Boston to an even bigger facility! It's really impressive what they've been able to accomplish. They are growing at a great rate, they are producing an irresistible product. sticking to their mission and keeping the cider fresh, natural, and local, and creating a place where people can enjoy their cider. 

If you're free on a weekend, catch them before they move! Every weekend day, weather permitting, they go out in the parking lot, put out some tents and some lawn games, and serve up the best cider you can get. We will definitely be back in the area this summer to check out a sunny weekend day to enjoy a couple of ciders with our new friends!

We received some Downeast product while we were on the tour and some to take home but in no way were we swayed to write anything over the top of what we would've already written about these amazing guys, the cider house, and their delicious product. 

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