Autumn has arrived, which means it’s time to head out the door in your boots and flannels to adventure in some seasonal activities. A 45-minute drive from Marist College is Angry Orchard Brewery in Walden, New York. It’s an easy and peaceful drive with numerous family-owned apple farms along the way. When you approach the Angry Orchard Brewery, you’ll see an old red barn with the Angry Orchard logo; that’s where you’ll pull in. As you drive up along the road to the main entrance, you’ll drive through the apple orchards. The apples are ripe and crisp, so you’ll start craving sweet cider before you even step out your car.
When you walk in have your ID ready, there is a little table with a staff member who will check your ID and give you a wooden token for cider tasting at the end of the tour. (Don’t lose it; it’s the best part!) The self-guided walking tour of Angry Orchard’s history and the process of the cider making is proximately 30 minutes, and it’s free! Before you start the tour, you might want to stop and take a picture with the old red pickup truck with the Angry Orchard Brewery Hard Cider sign when you first walk in. Staff members agreed it’s a signature photo spot at the brewery.
During the tour, you will learn a ton of fun facts about the roots of hard cider, which people have enjoyed since 6500BC. You will learn how the hard cider is made. The process is actually closer to the wine making process rather than beer, which is what a lot of people unknowingly compare it to. You can see the history in the hard cider making process from the barrows that brought the apples up the Hudson River to the process of pressing, fermenting, and bottling the cider in its traditional forms. While the tools used to make the hard cider have changed over time, the basic process is much the same.
Along the tour you will learn which apples are actually grown here in the Hudson Valley and which apples are shipped internationally. The apples grown in the Hudson Valley include Honeycrisp Culinary, Began Bittersweet, Golden Delicious, and Fuji Culinary.
As you continue the tour, you will move along to the modern process for washing, sorting, and pressing the apples. You can see the modern equipment, like the fermentation tanks and wooden barrels that ciders are stored in, making the ciders that we buy in stores. The room isn’t very big, almost gives a homemade feeling to the cider making.
The last part of the tour is turning in your wooden chips for a tasting of three ciders. They offer the traditional in-store ciders for tasting but also offer brewery exclusives and daily specials. This part of the tour is the most crowded, as you would imagine, so the earlier your arrive, the better.
Angry Orchard Brewery staff member, Addie McKnight, has been working at the brewery since May 2016. “The brewery officially opened to the public in the spring, so the facilities here are entirely new. We are still trying to figure a lot out here, like with food because we are not allowed to serve food but we have food trucks that come,” said McKnight. She explained that she is not sure how the fall turnout will be because the facility is new and fall just began, but it has been good so far. If they eventually are able to serve food themselves, it could bring even more people in. McKnight’s favorite cider at the brewery is Bitter Steve. While working there, she has seen a lot of people order the Knotty Pear: “a lot of people go for the sweeter ciders.” When asked about her favorite part of working at the Angry Orchard Brewery, she explained, “The staff is amazing and its really interesting, I didn’t know much about the cider process before, but working here I was able to learn how cider is made and I’ve become really interested and a big fan of cider.”
Chris Sutton, another staff member at the Angry Orchard Brewery, has been working there for a month. His favorite cider is the Strawman cider. Sutton has also seen a lot of people order Knotty pear: “its definitely a best-seller here.” Sutton hasn’t been working at the brewery for that long, but explained his favorite part is “-the environment…everyone here is really fun and we all just have a good time.”
If you want to visit the Angry Orchard Brewery they are open for visitors Wednesday-Sunday from 11am-6pm!