Once you fully understand and appreciate what real cider is supposed to be like, you can’t go back.
“Ugly apples taste better.” The lettering, plastered on two huge barns, is the first hint you’ve arrived at Brooklyn Cider House, located on the serene, 210 plus acre sprawl of Twin Star Orchards in New Paltz, New York. As you pull into the gravel drive, another barn looms with the doors swung wide and people milling about inside with glasses of hard cider in hand. It may look like your regular orchard and cidery on the surface, but if you dig deeper into the heart of it, you’ll find a brother-sister duo who are fearlessly passionate and innovative about cider making.
In 2014, Peter Yi walked away from a job as the owner of one of the leading wine retailers in New York City after he fell in love with cider on a wine tasting trip in the Basque Country of Spain. He realized that his true calling was to bring real hard cider back to the people in the states. He enlisted the help of his sister Susan, and together they’ve started to revitalize the cider industry. They claim that in 40 years, the industry is going to be completely different than it is today.
Before prohibition, cider used to be the most popular beverage in America, even more popular than beer. However, all the apple tree varieties used to make the hard cider were replaced by other trees during the time period. After prohibition ended, what was left of the apple trees were ones that were all wrong for cider. Thus, almost 98% of hard ciders in America are made with the wrong kinds of apples. Peter and his team didn’t want to be in that 98th percentile, so they devoted themselves to bringing back the rare cider apple varieties that make their ciders so special. They’ve currently planted nearly 8,000 baby trees, and once their trees are in full production, they plan to be the supplier of rare cider and heirloom apples for other New York cider makers.
Most people are used to the sweeter, fruitier ciders made right here in the states, so upon taking a sip of one of Brooklyn Cider House’s ciders, you might be a bit shocked at the taste. They are devoted to making the purest form of cider and thus you’ll find these to be raw and unfiltered, and much less sweet than you might be used to. Yet once you fully understand and appreciate what real cider is supposed to be like, you can’t go back. The love and dedication that goes into making these ciders is unparalleled, and you can really taste the difference.
So what can you expect from visit? Whether you’re headed upstate for a weekend getaway, or are just looking for a quick day trip, the scenic view and the family (and dog) friendly atmosphere makes Brooklyn Cider House at Twin Star Orchards a must-visit during the beautiful spring, summer and early fall months. There’s a tasting room where you can sample their ciders and browse a collection of locally sourced products like spices and soaps. If you’re hungry, head out to the pavillion that overlooks the orchard and a quaint pond, where you’ll find artisanal wood-fired pizzas, fabulous burgers and other seasonal goodies all season long. And of course, what’s an orchard without apple picking? Once fall hits you’ll be able to pick your very own “ugly apples” and see what the buzz is all about.