Sure, you can just about count the number of Austin cideries on one hand, but they are a diverse and enthusiastic group. Though they are few, they have teamed up to spread their love of cider with the debut of Austin Cider Week.
Starting on Tuesday, a handful of local bars will feature one cider from each local producer on their tap walls, offering evening tastings to showcase the diversity of cider that's being made around town. The week culminates on May 11 with Austin Cider Fest. The big bash, hosted by Texas Keeper Cider in far South Austin, will have a whole new round of ciders from each of the makers, along with live music and barbecue.
Argus Cidery, Austin Eastciders, Moontower Cider, Fairweather Cider and Texas Keeper are all participating, but it was John Staples at Fairweather who began to organize the week, recognizing a need for it.
"Austin Cider Week came to fruition through the realization of two major and simple things," he said. "The first being that there is nothing like this going on in the southern U.S. There are currently cider week events for Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York and New England. The second realization was that there are now enough producers here on the local level (with) a statewide and national presence to where we have a scene that is robust enough to really grab some national attention."
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For the week, the cideries chose to host events at bars and restaurants, including Banger's and Sour Duck Market, that have been big supporters of their products. Cider tends to get overshadowed on the tap wall by beer, but these places, Staples said, are "very progressive accounts that want to have 5 different ciders on at the same time."
Here's what to expect from each cidery and where each one will be. Each event is free.
Argus Cidery Ciderkin: Served in cans and on draft, Ciderkin is what you might call dry cider 101. Without back-sweetening or added sugars, it's an all-around delicious example of how cider can be both dry and tart, showcasing apple's sweet soul without being cloying.
Austin Eastciders Blood Orange Cider: Eastciders has found a niche delivering flavored ciders in cans, and the blood orange is especially a hit. It's zesty and bright thanks to the addition of bright-red Sicilian blood oranges, which add a "unique complexity to the effervescent cider," according to Eastciders.
Fairweather Cider's Smell the Van: OK, weird name, excellent cider. Smell the Van showcases what Fairweather does best — turns the concept of cider on its head while still delivering all the apple goodness we want in said beverage. It's been infused with gin botanicals and delivers notes of juniper, lavender, lemongrass and rosemary. Yes, sniff away.
Moontower Cider Pomme Blush: It's cider's answer to the everlastingly popular rosé (and thus perfect for Texas weather). Pomme Blush is a blend of culinary apples from the Pacific Northwest with orange muscat and ruby cabernet grapes from the Texas High Plains.
Texas Keeper Cider Ciderweizen: This one takes inspiration from beer — specifically, the spiced character of Old World wheat beers like hefeweizens — for its flavor. The cider wizards at Texas Keeper even make the cider with ale yeast strains to bring out particular fruit notes.
Tuesday, May 7: 4 p.m. at Easy Tiger at the Linc, 6406 N. Interstate 35
Wednesday, May 8: 4 p.m. at Banger's Sausage House & Beer Garden, 79 Rainey St.
Thursday, May 9: 4 p.m. at Spokesman, 440 E. St. Elmo Rd.
Friday, May 10: 4 p.m. at Sour Duck Market, 1814 E. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
Saturday, May 11: 2 to 6 p.m. at Texas Keeper Cider, 12521 Twin Creeks Rd.
Note that each venue is in a different part of town, an intentional decision the Austin Cider Week organizers made to help draw out a wide swath of Austinites.
“There's an incredible range in cider making in Austin," Chris Lowrey, Austin Eastciders' brand manager, said. "We’re excited to partner with the other local cideries in town to show people all the things cider can be."
For more information, visit instagram.com/austinciderweek.