As an episode of Portlandia will tell you—or any visit to an artisanal food market—canning is in. Canning means preserving, it means DIY and in beer, and cider, it means protecting the beverage from light, keeping a fresher taste and longer shelf life, as well as giving it hipster cred.
Winchester Ciderworks plans a 46,000 first- run of 16-ounce cans of Malice, which is double the pressing from last year. Stephen Schuurman, co-owner and cider-maker, hopes to double production again next year. The cider company is bringing the canning production in-house for greater control of distributing its cider, which is fast becoming the new craft drink. Cans will be available in mid-March in both grocery stores and in NoVA restaurants and bars, such as Purcellville‘s Magnolias at the Mill and the national burger chain, The Counter.
Also in mid-March, Ciderworks will debut its new line of bourbon barrel-aged ciders. The line, Wicked Wiles, takes its name from a quote in Snow White, a story centered on an apple (albeit a poisonous one). After the barrels host beer at Lost Rhino Brewing Company, Schuurman picks up the barrels, now third-hand, to age his cider. Since the beer grabs much of the flavor from the barrel, Schuurman explains, “it mellows out the bourbon” as to not overwhelm the cider.
The cider ages for eight months and is bottle conditioned (carbonated in the bottle) and, says Schuurman, “it’s not sweet. It’s medium-bodied, it’s fruity on the front and bourbon on the end.” He suggests drinking it at 50-55 degrees, as the warmer the cider, the more the bourbon notes appear. Next in the aging series: rye whiskey, brandy and rum.