Ever since I was a little kid, I’ve had an aversion to fruit. Whether sneaking it to the dog under the table, hiding it in potted plants or stuffing it into my OshKosh B’gosh pockets when I was made to sit at the table “until I ate all of the fruit on my plate,” I was clearly not a fan. As I grew older I matured, but my taste buds did not. Even when it’s been reformulated for adult consumption into cider. I love beer, but most of the American cider I’ve tried is too sweet and, for lack of a better word, too fruity. Yes, “Picky Nicky” was a steadfast beer guy—until a trip out to Middleburg, VA opened my eyes to the possibilities of the pomme (that’s French for apple). After a brewery trip to nearby Ocelot (great IPAs) and Quattro Goomba (farm beer, pizza and wine slushies) a friend of mine said “hey let’s stop in here!” Who was I to resist, especially after beers and wine slushies. From there the rest is history, even the pony rides afterward.
Tucked away in historic Loudoun County, Mt. Defiance Cidery and Distillery bridges the gap between beer and fruit with its handcrafted, eclectic small batch ciders—and let’s be honest, it didn’t hurt that they distill their own spirits too. This is a cidery that isn’t afraid to experiment or to pursue multiple trains of thought when it comes to defining what a cider should be. Owner Mark Chretien describes the range of approaches to cider making as “…traditional farm cideries where classic cider apples are pressed and the juice fully fermented with only yeast added, to the cutting edge cider makers who are influenced by the craft beer movement and infuse and co-ferment a riotous blend of new and historic natural flavors into their ciders.” At Mt. Defiance they offer a selection of both traditional farm cidery style ciders as well as more adventurous infused ciders. If you’re like me and fancy yourself a beer guy, think of them as the cider version of a brewery that lets you try unique scratch batches in the quest to open your mind and mouth to new worlds of flavor.
Farmhouse: Their flagship cider. Light and dry with a clean finish. Unsweetened and very food friendly!
Ginger: Farmhouse cider with the addition of lots of fresh ginger. A great tangy ginger flavor.
Old Volstead: Made with ale yeast. Dry and fruity, with the sweet and sour of a green apple. The Old Volstead has overtaken the Farmhouse in popularity recently. I agree.
Hoppiness: Brand new hopped cider. Infused with fragrant Citra hops and lightly sweetened. Hops in cider?! I’m on board.
Spice: Their fall spiced cider. Cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla added to the Farmhouse cider for a great seasonal flavor (without the pumpkin!). Basically your go-to cider for the holidays.
5 Pepper: Five different kinds of fresh peppers infused in the Farmhouse cider. Super peppery aroma with a warm finish. I took a growler to go!
Mt. Defiance Cidery and Distillery: 207 W Washington St., Middleburg, VA; 540-687-8100; www.mtdefiance.com