Virginia Cider Week started last Friday and runs through November 20th and we attended the kickoff event Cider Smackdown: Attack of the Crab at Albemarle CiderWorks. This event was a blind tasting of eight Virginia ciders composed of crab apples and the entries consisted of either Virginia Hewes, Wickson, or Rub Ted Crabapple.
Hewe’s Crab was the most common fruit variety grown in eighteenth-century Virginia. It is thought to be a cross between the native American crabapple, Malus angustifolia, and the domesticated European apple of horticulture. It produces a delicious cinnamon-flavored cider that is both sugary and pungent. Jefferson planted his entire north orchard exclusively with this variety and once wrote that crushing the juicy Hewe’s Crab for cider was like “squeezing a wet sponge.” Its small, round fruit, which ripens in September in Central Virginia, is dull red and streaked with green. (monticello.org)
Wickson Crab was developed by Albert Etter, an apple enthusiast best known for his work on pink-fleshed and red-fleshed apples. Wickson was the result of crossing two other crab apple varieties. Confusingly Etter refers to them as Spitzenberg crab and Newtown crab in his patent papers, but it is not thought they are related to the mainstream apples of the same names but were crabs developed by Etter himself…Like most crab apples Wickson is very small and is also a hardy and problem-free tree. However, that is where the resemblance to other crab apples ends. Wickson is unusually sweet, but at the same time has a strong acid component. The result is an apple that has a very strong flavor, making it an excellent component for cider blends. (orangepippin.com)
Ruby Red is a chance seedling that actually originates from the property. The tree was found behind an old cabin at the base of Priest Mountain by John Saunders and after noting the apples’ intense flavor and colored flesh, they chose to propagate the apple for commercial purposes. (Troddenvale at Oakley Farm)
The Cider Smackdown was a blind tasting where attendees voted on their two favorites or a single favorite getting both votes. Each of the ciders was completely unique even those composed of the same apple varieties, as cellar techniques varied among the cideries. The Albemarle CiderWorks Wickson Crab received the most votes followed by a three-way tie of the Sage Bird Cider Virginia Hewes Crab, Halcyon Days Cider Occam’s Razor, and Big Fish Cider Virginia Hewes Crab. I had recognized the Sage Bird Hewes Crab from opening a bottle a few weeks previously when studying for the CCP. Love the fleshy tart and bittersweet notes. My other vote went to the Potter’s Craft Cider Wickson Crab (which finished in a three-way tie with the Lost Boy Cider Cellar Series: Hewes and Courthouse Creek Cider Crabtree Falls. The Potter’s Wickson Crab was aged in French oak wine barrels and was able to retain tartness and acidity while providing red currants on the nose and a full body palate. The Troddenvale Grower Series, Silver Creek Orchards – 2021 rounded out the entries and this was my first taste of a Ruby Red Crabapple cider. There was an interesting farmhouse hoppy flavor combined with creamy lees and a bittersharp finish.
We came home with a bottle each of the Albemarle CiderWorks Wickson Crab and Halcyon Days Occam’s Razor but hope to revisit all of these ciders during the BevFluence® New Perspectives on Cider, Perry, and Brandy campaign. All ciders are welcome for the campaign. Cheers.
Let me introduce you to our BevFluence® Collaborations platform and latest campaign: Cider: New Perspectives on Cider, Perry, and Brandy. We created the BevFluence® Collaborations Campaign (BCC) to expand influencer engagement by leveraging the BevFluence® community. We have devised and tested our proprietary methodology for accelerating social media distribution and require our members to adhere to specific regulations throughout the campaign. This methodology includes scheduling social media posts at the optimal time, sharing, and working with brand participants to engage within our platform.
After an incredibly successful Rendezvous: An In-depth Look at RTD Cocktails campaign, the BevFluence® team is jumping right back in with a passion project – Cider: New Perspectives on Cider, Perry, and Brandy. The BevFluence® team is comprised of cider enthusiasts (BevFluence® founders Justin, a Certified Cider Professional, and Todd, a tried-and-true cider lover) and cider aficionados among the team of influencers. This campaign will operate during the late summer and fall and feature cider, perry, and apple or pear brandy from across the globe. It will also include deep dives into cider making, consumption, styles, cocktail recipes, and food pairings. The products will be presented to a combination of industry experts, mixologists, bartenders, creators, bloggers, writers, and other media – and across the craft beverage landscape. This will generate new perspectives about cider, perry, and brandy from creators who range from cider novices to experts and these perspectives will cascade to their followers.
We curate only the most diverse palates, particularly those that will be tough but fair. You will get to know these creators as part of our community through group tastings and one-on-one interviews. Dozens of creators have already signed up and are salivating for this campaign to barrage you with posts and discussions about your brand (unless you live in a cave, that is). This campaign is far superior to your typical trade show as we go deeper and aim for more impact than the usual one-post or five-minute meet and greet. If you want to grow your business and meaningfully engage your consumer, this is the campaign you need to be part of.
You can view more information on the BevFluence® Collaborationsplatform. Once the campaign commences, you will use this platform to engage the creators, view posts and professional tasting notes, and experience the engagement dashboard.
Registration will run through early 2023 and the price per each product registration is $225, but we have enacted early bird pricing of $195 per product registration through February 4th. Cider and brandy associations can contact us for further discounts for their members.
For each product registered, the brands must send (6) samples to each BevFluence® Regional Office, as well as a sample to each Influencer we assign (3-4 influencers). That equals 15-16 total samples. All of the requirements are outlined in the campaign guidelines once you log in to the BevFluence® Collaborations platform.
What is BevFluence®?
BevFluence®, LLC (BevFluence) was founded in 2017 and is made up of active members of the food & beverage industry – experts with decades of experience. This group of well-respected and highly sought-after professionals is dedicated to building and strengthening the professional food & beverage media community through education, collaboration, and expanding access for both brands and creators. Founded by media professionals to create the change for our clients that define the future, you get us all (for the cost of a single consultant in some other companies) – a team dedicated to growing your business over the long term. Our Team is made of wine, whiskey, technology, marketing, social media, hospitality, culinary, and beverage industry experts.