West County Cider in Shelburne, Massachusetts | Best Cideries in New EnglandPhoto Credit : Franklin County Chamber of Commerce
Where our 18th-century New England forebears looked on hard cider as a mere staple beverage — more popular than ale, longer-lasting than milk, and often safer to drink than water — today’s cideries have made it as much a symbol of our region’s terroir as any vineyard or craft brewery. Frequently drawing on heirloom apple varieties and refining age-old fermentation techniques, they are turning out heady nectars to give any visit to New England a little extra kick. The following roundup of best New England cideries is drawn from Yankee’s travel writings and reader tips, with a focus on small-batch producers and an eye for travel destinations with particular appeal.
Absolem Cider Company | Winthrop, ME
A cidery and tasting room located in a 150-year-old farmhouse in Maine’s Kennebec Valley, Absolem creates elegant ciders inspired by old-world techniques — like Bembel, a bright, citrusy, and refreshingly tart cider that takes its cues from Frankfurt apfelwein, and Atlantica, which draws on sagardoa, a traditional Basque cider.
B.F. Clyde’s Cider Mill | Mystic, CT
In a town that celebrates sail, steam makes the cider: Clyde’s runs the last steam-powered apple press in America. The venerable machine turns out the crushed fruit for hard cider — an oaky elixir decanted straight from the barrel — and apple wine, filtered to achieve a sophisticated clarity. (There’s a bakery at Clyde’s, too, so count on apple cider doughnuts, as well as apple muffins, turnovers, pies, and more.)
Butternut Farm | Farmington, NH
Bringing cidermaking back to its rustic roots, this family-run, pick-your-own fruit farm invites visitors to step into a cider house where the tasting room sits atop the very basement where Wobbly Farmer, The Back 40, Orangesicle, and other delicious hard ciders are born in small batches. Enjoy 3-ounce samples alone or in a tasting flight, order a 14-ounce pour, or buy a growler to fill up with your favorite.
Carr’s Cider House | Hadley, MA
Superlative hard cider is just the beginning at this Pioneer Valley orchard and cidery, which also produces sweet cider, cider syrup, cider vinegar, and one of New England’s oldest potions, switchel (a vinegar-based quencher packed with electrolytes and treasured by farmhands of yore). On weekends, sip cider and handmade sodas at Carr’s scenic cider garden, right at the farm.
Champlain Orchards | West Shoreham, VT
This family-owned farm overlooking Lake Champlain is one of the oldest continuously operating orchards in Vermont. On it, Bill Suhr and Andrea Scott grow more than 100 varieties of apples, along with berries and stone fruits, which in turn go into their award-winning hard ciders. Look for year-round offerings like Kingston Dry, Mac & Maple, and Foxboro Rosé, alongside seasonal specials like Honeycrisp — all four of which, incidentally, earned medals at the 2022 Great American Cider Competition.
Cider Hill Cellars | Amesbury, MA
Three generations of the Cook family have nurtured the orchards on their North Shore farm, with 1,000 apple trees producing solely for cider. Cider Hilloffers nine hard ciders, ranging from dry to semisweet and including berry and cherry blends — all made exclusively with apples grown on-site. On weekends, the cider bar offers a tasty lunch menu and live music. For kids, there are arts and gardening programs and, of course, sweet cider.
Cold Hollow Cider Mill | Waterbury, VT
The renowned sweet cider at this top Vermont attraction is made before your eyes daily in the fall, twice weekly during quieter seasons, using a vintage press. But the juice doesn’t all wind up in jugs. Alongside gourmet creations such as cider-chipotle BBQ sauce and an intensely flavored cider jelly, look for their line of easy-drinking hard ciders such as the gently spiced Grateful Sled and Soul Shifter, lightly sweetened with cider syrup.
Contoocook Cider Company | Contoocook, NH
More than 100 varieties of apples grown at Gould Hill Farm assure an exquisite array of mix-and-match possibilities. Flavor profiles run from bone-dry to sweet; cranberry, ginger, maple and tart cherries also make an occasional appearance. A selection of handmade pizzas rounds out a simple menu — a nice dry cider might just bump out beer for pizza pairing. Quart and half-gallon growlers are available to take home.
The recent merger of Eden Ciders with winemaker Shelburne Vineyard brought the Newport cidermaker some welcome exposure at the vineyard’s tasting room on Route 7, just south of Burlington. Along with its line of still, sparkling, and herbal-infused hard ciders, Eden is known for its intensely flavored ice cider. Enjoy light snacks of Vermont cheeses and charcuterie, and special live-music nights.
Farnum Hill Ciders | Lebanon, NH
Don’t expect hard ciders made from supermarket apples at Farnum Hill, where heirloom varieties such as Yarlington Mill, Kingston Black, and Elias Bitter, grown at the cidery’s Poverty Lane Orchards, yield complex, “radically dry” still ciders, along with only slightly less dry fizzies. Farnum’s retail operation features sweet ciders, apples, maple and seasonal vegetables, and hard cider tastings.
Flag Hill Farm | Vershire, VT
Nestled high in the Vermont mountains, Flag Hill Farm is one of the original Vermont cideries that helped pave the way for the craft cider renaissance. Its handmade, farmhouse product —which The New York Times once called “cider with the soul of wine” — comes in sparkling and still varieties, all made with organic wild and cultivated apples grown on-site or sourced from neighboring farms. Tours and tastings by appointment.
JMash Cidery at Hilltop Orchards | Richmond, MA
John Vittori studied cider-making in England, but his French-style cidre is a standout, clear and pale gold in color and rich in tannins from fermenting the juice on its skins and aging in French oak barrels. Mostly dry, with just the slightest hint of sweetness, it’s food-friendly, full-bodied, and complex. Meanwhile, the Johnny Mash Original American cider is sweeter and more golden in hue (it, too, is aged in oak), a true New England blend of Northern Spy and McIntosh apples.
North Country Hard Cider | Dover
From humble beginnings — pressing apples in a family driveway and fermenting cider in a basement — brothers Silas and Ivan Gordon and their friend Ron Dixon have grown their cidery into a full-fledged production facility and tasting room that draws cider fans from across New England and beyond to sip concoctions like Cranbarrel (aged in bourbon barrels and brightened with Massachusetts cranberries) and the seasonal Crabby Bastard (a blend of Dolgo crabapples and Spencer apples grown on the Giles Family Farm in Maine). North Country has also earned kudos for its eco-friendly ethos, as the first cidery in New Hampshire to be recognized in the state’s Sustainable Craft Beverage Program.
Orchard Girls Cidery | Kingfield, ME
There actually aren’t any cider-pressing ladies to be found here — founder Daniel Gassett picked the name from a song lyric. Gassett makes straight hard apple cider with fruit from local orchards, but he follows his own muse in crafting seasonal offerings kissed with ginger, strawberry, rhubarb, and Maine blueberries. Whatever’s ready is available on tap at the homey tasting room, where bottles, growlers, and even kegs are on sale.
Oyster River Winegrowers | Warren, ME
The name “winegrowers” is worth noting here, as much of the fruit that goes into the wines and ciders is grown on-site (the rest comes from other Northeast farms). In an era when natural wines, made with no additives and minimal intervention, are all the rage, Oyster River is proving that natural wines and ciders can even be made in the rugged climate of midcoast Maine. Without added sugars or other sweeteners, these ciders are bone-dry, complex, and perfect for wine lovers. In season, visitors are welcome to visit the winery’s tasting room, located in a renovated barn.
Portersfield Cider | Pownal, ME
More than 225 apple and pear varieties, many in danger of extinction, flourish in the orchards of Portersfield Cider, which describes itself as “half conservation project, half production facility.” And it’s that second half that can be credited with helping to preserve Maine’s cidermaking tradition, focusing on very-small-batch ciders that showcase both orchard-grown and foraged wild apples. The ciders are available only at the farm tasting room, where tasting flights arepaired with seasonal foods from local producers and the farm’s own fields. Advance reservations required.
Sowams Cider Works Company | Warren, RI
Until recently, this cidery’s cozy storefront tasting room in downtown Warren was the only place to load up on bottles of arguably the best hard cider in Rhode Island. That changed in mid-2023, when Providence’s Campus Fine Wines started stock Sowams, but it’s still worth stopping into the tasting room to sample the widest range of vintages made from an eclectic mix of apples —including the Rhode Island Greening — grown by artisan cider maker Spencer Morris.
West County Cider | Shelburne, MA
Several local orchards feed the presses for West County’s cellar-fermented ciders, crafted to take advantage of an array of individual apple varieties. Heirloom Baldwins, for example, yield Dry Baldwin, a light, crisp cider expressive of the character of this native New England apple. Buy cork-and-wire-topped 750 ml bottles or sample draft pours at the rustic tasting room; outdoors, there are hiking trails and an outdoor picnic area.
Windfall Orchard | Cornwall, VT
The Champlain Valley is Vermont’s apple country, and Windfall takes full advantage of the local bounty. Up to 30 varieties, grown on-site, go into its naturally fermented sparkling and ice ciders. Apples aren’t the whole story here: Windfall’s pear crop yields hard-to-find perry, the old-British pear counterpart to cider. Windfall’s Saturday market also sells soup, pizza, and farm-fresh vegetables.
Yankee Cider Company | East Haddam, CT
A perennial favorite in The Big E cider competition, Yankee Cider Company opened Connecticut’s first farm cidery taproom in 2019 in a converted 100-year-old barn, where it features flights and pours of its hard ciders and wines from its sibling business, Staehly Farm Winery. Throughout the year, the flavor experimentation is never-ending — think spiced fig cider, caramel cider doughnut, and blueberry rhubarb ginger cider.
Do you have a cidery you’d like to add to the list? Tell us about it in the comments below!