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The venerable and distinguished Golden Russet.

Here are the huge sugar numbers from the outstanding 2013 growing year from our main apples. I can’t tell you how excited I am to see how these musts ferment! This would be what the British call a ‘vintage year’.

Yarlington Mill: 15.5° brix (1.063 s.g.)

Kinston Black: Crop failure (big surprise).

Dabinett: 16° brix (1.065 s.g.)

GoldRush: 17° brix (1.069 s.g.)

Golden Russet: 19° brix – wow! (1.078 s.g.) Nectar of the Gods?

These data are no doubt higher than normal due to the lack of rain during late summer / autumn, but bear in mind that the apples used were from unfertilized trees and were sweated before pressing.



Yesterday, via the United States Post,, we were awarded our Federal Distiller’s License! It only took a year to get through the bureaucracy, but that means nothing now. We are ready to get the various parts of our actual still (it looks nothing like the image above, but dreams are permissible here) out of the basement and barn and set. it. up. See, the law permits us to own a still, but didn’t allow us to operate it. In fact, it was required that we disassemble it and store all the parts in different spots on our property. Seems strange and somehow a throwback, but we followed the rules.

So, what does this mean for you, dear imbiber? It means that our Pommeau will contain apple brandy MADE BY US (currently, we use a neutrally flavored apple brandy by another producer), full of apple essence and goodness. It also means that sometime in the not too distant future, we will get our State license and be able to sell you Apple Brandy straight up.  Calvados, Massachusetts-style. We have many ideas. Stay tuned!

We are wildly excited!

Having navigated the shoals of the labyrinthine online application for a federal distillery permit and after hitting the ‘send’ button this very St. Patrick’s Day morning, we are feeling excited at Carr’s Ciderhouse! It’s been a long-held ambition here (well-matched to my Irish heritage.. and stereotype, of course), tho’ we won’t be making whiskey – it’s apple eau de vie we’re after! The processing of the application may well take a few months, and pending the outcome of a possible inspection, we are aiming to start distilling in June. The main purpose of getting our distilling permit is to be able to fortify our apple pommeau with our own spirits and make a small amount of eau de vie,  but I have a few other ideas up my sleeve….


Cider&FoodShotCidre Doux (5%abv)

It’s finally ready — the French-style sweet cider that has been slowly fermenting since late last October! It is a *big* naturally sweet cider with tremendous apple fruit and a supple, tannic back end. Those of you who are cider geeks will know this style is made in Normandy, by an arcane process which involves the ephemeral formation of the ‘chapeau brun’, or ‘brown hat’, in order to remove pectic substances with the goal of slowing the fermentation considerably. We managed to pull off this fermentation with 100% wild yeasts at a *very* low temperature and stopped fermentation at the end with a residual sugar level of ~35g/liter, which is just lush and lovely! The apple varieties include Reine de Pomme, Esopus Spitzenburg (which graces our label), American Pippin, Ashmead’s Kernel, and a few other eminences grises. It must be refrigerated, as it has only been gently pasteurized and has not been sterile filtered. This cider is FANTASTIC with cheese – we nearly died when we paired it with Harbison from Jasper Hill (you could also try Vacherin). Bon appetit!

We were having a little hard cider tasting the other night (well, before Christmas, actually) to show off both our cider and our fermentation facility, when our former neighbor Caleb dropped by with his friend Mark. Mark, as it turned out, is well acquainted with our orchard, having hiked through it in days gone by to enjoy the views. He also snapped a few pics and wrote up this great little piece for the Valley Advocate:

Thanks, Mark! And thanks to everyone who came by for the tasting! It was great good fun…

Watch this to see  how we do the cider pressing here (we really DO move in slow-mo)! The super-talented Ryan Marshall (of the blog Pacing the Panic Room) created this beautiful short video of our shiny, red press in action. You should definitely check out his blog,  and next head over to Kinfolk – a guide to small gatherings – a magazine that Ryan contributes to and which also houses this video. Both sites are inspiring and gorgeous to look at and we feel quite fortunate indeed to have our humble operation highlighted in this way! Thanks Ryan!

For the last few years, we have been pressing our apples on an ancient, semi-dismantled Mount Gilead apple press, made of oak wood and heavy cast iron, and in poor repair.  We ground the apples on one side of the barn, lugged them to the press, and then hoped the old beast would not shake itself apart as it shuddered its way up to 1500 psi. It was backbreaking work – but no more! It is now a beautiful, fully restored, smoothly-running contraption. Jonathan and his Dad have been working hard to bring it back to its former glory and then some : Re-machining, repairing, sealing, cleaning, reconfiguring, and inventing new parts to make the whole pressing operation more efficient.  We are having a splendid, mild autumn so far, but as the cold days are approaching fast, the final touches are being made so the pressing can begin! Unless you want to pop over and have a look for yourself, here are some recent photos that will give you a gander at the lady in red.