By Emily Kovach
May 16, 2023
Like any creative endeavor, making a cider requires a lot of decision-making. Every choice that the maker lands on is a proverbial fork in the road: what fruit to use, which yeast to pitch (or, choosing to let wild yeast do its thing), what vessels to ferment in, whether to filter or not … the list goes on and on. When you pop a bottle or crack a can, you’re experiencing the results of hundreds of choices that someone made, both in the orchard and in the cellar.
When we first perused the Summer Sipper boxes from the Northwest Cider Club, we couldn’t help but notice that a bunch of the ciders perfectly demonstrate just how much of a cider’s profile is determined in the cellar. Of course, farming and fruit are inherently at the heart of every cider, but what the cidermaker decides to do with the fruit or juice they’re working with can take a cider in so many different directions.
Michael Billingsley, the co-owner of Western Cider (out of Missoula, Montana), has always taken an interest in the history of US cider. It was through his casual research that he first encountered the concept of a ciderkin.
“If you’re looking at the history of cider and why people used to drink it, it was often people being afraid of drinking water,” he says. “Ciderkin was first used as a lower-alcohol safe alternative for farm workers.”
Ciderkin, which is essentially cider piquette, is a beverage made from spent apple pomace that’s rehydrated and fermented. The result is a light, refreshing, lower-ABV sipper that’s akin to a light cider or cider seltzer.