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Fall is the perfect time of year for all things apple – apple pie, apple picking and of course, apple cider. But if you like your apple cider to have a little kick, these NC cideries are the place to go. From simple dry ciders to special concoctions featuring fruits and even hot peppers, they have something to satisfy every palette.
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Located just outside of Asheville, in Black Mountain, NC, Black Mountain Ciderworks & Meadery creates cider and mead using heirloom apples and honey from the local area. Having formerly been homebrewers, the creative masters at this cidery were inspired to create delicious, drinkable ciders that weren’t as sugary-sweet as the ones you often find on the refrigerator shelves. And they accomplish just that by using 100% real juice that is never pasteurized or filtered and by not adding any sugars, concentrates or artificial flavors. The result? Masterpieces like “The Mayan” – a pineapple sage mead, or the “Blue Christmas” – a cider with blueberry and cardamom.
Asheville’s first hard cider company, Noble Cider, combines the city’s reputation as the new “Craft Brew Mecca” with the surrounding apple country, and creates delicious ciders that are naturally gluten-free and contain only real fruits and no artificial ingredients. Slide up to the tasting bar located in the middle of the company’s manufacturing facility, and enjoy one of the twenty brews on tap, while watching the cidermasters hard at work. Check out one of their year-round ciders like The Village Tart – a sharp, cherry cider or the Spice Merchant – cider made with cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and tea. Or take a shot at one of their seasonal varieties like The Journeyman – a special brew created in the fall that is made with cranberries, oranges, cinnamon and habaneros.
Also located in Asheville, Urban Orchard Cider is a family-owned cider bar that is also a dream for those with food allergies. In addition to serving up three flagship ciders and at least five other rotating flavors on tap, all of which are naturally gluten free, the tasting room also offers a variety of gluten free and dairy free snacks. Their ciders, which are aged for a minimum of eight months, are created using apples from the local Hendersonville area and include interesting flavor combinations like the Watermelon Lager that is cold fermented on fresh watermelon chunks for three months, or the Sunglasses at Night, a semi-sweet cider infused with strawberry and basil. If you’re hungry or don’t want to drink on an empty stomach, their food options include small bites, salads and sandwiches, with many ingredients coming from other local businesses.
Red Clay Ciderworks became Charlotte’s first cidery when it opened in 2015. Now known for their distinctly dry ciders, they use fresh-pressed juice from North Carolina apples to make their naturally gluten-free ciders. Although you won’t find any flavors that are too crazy, you will find them all to be delicious. Make sure to try the Nor’ Easter, a semi-dry cider blended with pure cranberry juice, and the Hoppin Good Thyme – a dry hopped cider made with thyme and a few other secret ingredients. If you want to mix it up a little, the taproom at Red Clay also offers flights, as well as a variety of local draft beers, wines, kombuchas and sodas.
Chances are, you may have seen Bold Rock Cider in a bar or grocery store before, but if you’re in the Mills River area of NC, you can visit the spot where it all began. Since they first opened in June 2012, Bold Rock has grown to become the nation’s largest independently owned cider company and has won over 100 awards for their brews. Their motto, “Real Apples, Real Craft, Real People” rings true as they begin with apples from the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia and North Carolina, and crush and craft them into ciders at their two Blue Ridge cideries. When you visit the Mills River Cidery, you can take a complimentary tour of the facility, do a hard cider tasting, buy a pint or a flight, and even check out some local beers. The Bold Rock Food Trailer also offers up some authentic southern barbecue with all the fixins.
Bull City Ciderworks aims to redefine cider and leave their sickeningly sweet or artificially flavored mainstream counterparts in the dust. And they do just that by offering ciders made with 100% apple juice, gluten-free yeasts and unique ingredients like black tea, tart cherries, hibiscus and even bacon. Stop by their Durham location to see how the cider is made, do a tasting, play some games and maybe even catch some live music. Well behaved children and dogs are also welcome!