Since 2012, the Angry Orchard Cider Company has had control over the hard cider market in the United States. Originally consisting of only three flavors of hard cider, Crisp Apple, Traditional Dry and Apple Ginger, the company has expanded its line of ciders to include flavors such as Cinnful Apple, Hop’n Mad Apple and Stone Dry. They’ve even released a higher end line of drinks, known as the Cider House Collection, which includes flavors known as Strawman, Iceman and The Muse.
This year, the Cincinnati, Ohio-based company has opened up a new cidery in Walden, New York., located only 20 minutes from the SUNY New Paltz campus.
“For some time we had been looking to establish a home for our cider research, and this orchard [in Walden] is perfect for us,” Head Cider Maker Ryan Burk said. “Not only does the orchard itself have a great history, but the Hudson Valley has such a vibrant group of apple growers and craft cider makers.”
Burk said despite the commercialization, the old owners will still be involved with the orchard.
“The Angry Orchard itself was previously owned by the Crist family – they have a long history of growing apples in the region – and the family will continue to cultivate the Orchard. It’s this long standing tradition of family business, apple growing and strong sense of community that really drew us to the area and to this orchard.”
Burk, who grew up in Williamson, New York, has been interested and involved with cider making throughout most of his life.
“I was an avid homebrewer/cider maker throughout college. But, it didn’t occur to me to make my cider making hobby a full time career until I moved to Chicago in 2007 for law school,” Burk said.
Burk continued about his experience in Chicago and spoke about what it means to him to be back doing what he loves in his home state.
“The city had a great homebrewing and craft beer scene, and I ended up putting law school on hold to help out with a local start up cidery,” he said. “That was a launching pad to my time at Siebel Institute, where I received a certificate in fermentation sciences and moved forward as a professional cider maker. Now, I’m back in my home state and excited to be leading research and development for Angry Orchard in Walden.”
Sometimes when businesses or organizations move to a new area, there is an opposition to them being there and it takes people some time to warm up to them. In Angry Orchard’s case, this couldn’t be farther from the truth, as Burk said the community response to the new cidery has been great.
“The community has been incredibly welcoming,” Burk said. “The Hudson Valley has such a rich tradition of apple growing, and there are so many great apple growers and cider makers in the area to be inspired by. Also, the state and local government was very supportive and worked with us as we developed our plans.”
Since the cidery will devote many of its resources to cider research and development, Burk said that they will be experimenting with a lot of new flavors and combinations to fuel new Angry Orchard drinks in the future. Luckily for Hudson Valley residents, they just might be able to try some of the new combinations before anyone else in the nation.
“The Orchard is truly our home for research and development – we’ll be experimenting with new recipes and crafting unique ciders for drinkers to try in our tasting room. We’re thinking of our cider house as a homebase for all of our innovation, where we’ll come up with new recipes that could someday make their way to drinkers nationwide.”
Along with the new cidery, Angry Orchard is seeking to help build the cider community even more upstate as well. Burk said that they are seeking to become more involved in the cider community as well as looking to support other local cider makers. He continued and said how they are working to grow the Hudson Valley Cider Trail, which will include their cider making neighbors as well, which will “showcase all our region has offer” in the cider business.
The new cidery looks to be a promising new addition to the Hudson Valley as well as its residents. The enthusiasm Burk and the Angry Orchard team are bringing to cider making in the Hudson Valley will be beneficial for community and the support they have for other local cideries is not to be downplayed. Angry Orchard is here is to stay and provide the Hudson Valley with a quality and caring business that takes pride in its craft.