Get Excited for CiderCon 2018 — Baltimore!

Every year the United States Association of Cider Makers gathers to discuss cider, network, and see what’s going on in the world of cider. This year the gathering is in Baltimore, Maryland running from January 30th through February 2nd – Baltimore is not a city typically associated with cider, but coincidentally CiderCon is happening the same time as Baltimore’s inaugural CiderWeek! So, there are certain to be a wide range of cider events going on for CiderCon attendees after the sessions end.

New this year is the Heritage Cider track, for cidermakers interested in orchard-based ciders made with heritage apples with speakers including Diane Flynt, Foggy Ridge Cider • Eric Shatt, Red Byrd Ciders & Cornell • Steve Wood, Farnum Hill Cider • Harry Ricker, Ricker Hill Orchards • Darlene Hayes, All Into Cider • Eleanor Leger, Eden Specialty Ciders • Ian Merwin, Cornell • Ryan Burk, Angry Orchard • Tom Oliver, Oliver’s Cider and Perry • Leif Sundström, Sundström Cider • Sam Fitz, Anxo • Chef James Rigato, Mabel Gray • Jackson Cannon, Owner and Bar Director Eastern Standard Restaurant Group • Brian Rutzen, The Northman • Tim Larsen, Snowdrift and many more.

Heritage Cider sessions will include:

  • Holisitic Orchard Management Cidermaking with heirloom and bittersweet varieties
  • Heritage cider options – wild ferments, barrels and more
  • Production hacks for small producers Cidernomics for start up and small-scale cideries
  • Growing bittersweet apple varieties for cider: Practices and terroir
  • Apple varieties for cider – regional variation and character in cider cider tasting
  • Working with Heritage Ciders on the menu Heritage Ciders – Keys to success in the next cider growth category

The cider fun starts on Tuesday, January 30th with a few day long cidery bus tours planned. I went on one of these tours at CiderCon in Portland and it was a day full of fun and offered insight into cider production in a city that was new to me. I am looking forward to the tour I signed up for of Washington, DC that will feature tour guide, author and cider historian, Michael Stein for a tour of our nation’s capital with stops at Anxo Cidery and Pintxos Bar, the District and Supreme Core – where cider is farm pressed and city perfected.  Lunch will be served at Anxo, with an all-out pinxtos bar. Other bus tours of the day head to Frederick, MD and Adams County, PA.

On Wednesday cider education has a focus, with a “Technical Training for Cider Makers, An Overview” session offered by the Cider Institute of North America. Other enlightening sessions on Wednesday include an overview of TTB regulations and an exam prep workshop for the USACM Certified Cider Professional program.  I had a chance to go through this training and certification and it offered some new information and a great basic overview of cider – some have compared this first stage of the program to the Cicerone Certified Beer Server program. As the day closes there will be a cider share, this is sure to be a pretty intense cider bottle share with cidermakers from around the country bringing out their best bottles.

Thursday is where things start to get serious – the conference kicks off with an opening session with Nielsen, last year their presentation overed valuable insight into where the cider market is headed and I am looking forward to hearing what they have discovered as the segment evolves. The tradeshow (and cider bar, thanks to Fruit Smart!) is open and the workshops and guided tastings begin. Highlights for me of the day include the diverse tasting sessions (including Champagne Methods for Cider, Sensory Analysis with Charles McGonegal, Regional Variations in Apples and Cider with Darlene Hayes & Dan Pucci, Wild Fermentations, New Zealand Tastings with Zeffer and Peckams) and sessions including Collaboration & a Shared Cider Economy  with Ryan Burk, Greg Peck, Developing the US Cider Lexicon with USACM Board of Directors, Jenn Smith, Wild Fermentation and other heritage cider options with Ryan Burk, Tom Oliver, Leif Sundstrom, Kevin Zielinski and also Leave it to Keever with Emily Ritchie, Andrew Byers, Martin Berkeley & Dave Takush.

Friday, the last day of the conference sees some of the association business being discussed – board elections, bylaw votes and general business meetings, the trade show and cider bar continue as well as the workshops and tastings, including a cider tasting panel of New Zealand ciders, the day wraps up with the grand cider tasting. Cider tasting sessions on Friday include Heritage Ciders with Diane Flynt,  Horizontal Tasting with Lauren Shepard, and Working with Oak with Shea Comfort. Some sessions that I hope to attend include Heritage Ciders: Keys to Success in the Next Growth Category with Diane Flynt, Juicing Tourism Marketing with Kevin Clay, UK Cider Trends with the Ciderologist, Gabe Cook and also the irreverent Reverend Nat’s is a Marketing Company, Not a Cider Company with Nat West. It looks like a great option at the end of Friday is Pour The Core, for their first Baltimore event at the B&O Railroad Museum.

All this amazing cider education, tasting, and travel on my schedule and I haven’t even begun to figure out the after hours CiderWeek events!

I am looking forward to meeting some of my followers and new cider friends in Baltimore!