New York State's first farm cidery, located right in my own base of operations, Albany, is the next destination on our introductory tour for this year's TAP NY festival. There was a great deal of fanfare when Nine Pin Cider Works opened a few months back, and the outfit continues making waves throughout the regional beer scene. As a recipient of the farm cidery license, which is similar to the farm brewery license, the business has been granted certain tax exemptions and has been allowed to operate an on-premises tasting room. The law was passed in October of last year, and went into affect in January. As soon as he could, Alejandro del Peral, the man behind Nine Pin, had his application in at the State Liquor Authority. 22 days later, he was licensed and just about ready to open. Now he, along with his family, are producing some of the finest ciders in the Northeast.
Nine Pin's apples come primarily from the Samascott Orchards in Kinderhook, a short drive from downtown Albany. The cidery prides itself on being able to source its apples from as close to their production base as possible, maintaining both freshness and the innate sense of localism that drives the operation forward. Because the apple crop only comes in once a year, the cidery has to gauge how much cider they should produce ahead of time, which presents a bit of a logistical nightmare. Although cider has been eagerly swept up by craft beer fans as an integral component of the growing beer culture, there are a few notable differences between cider and beer. The fact that cider producers have to anticipate demand over the course of the year, instead of just brewing to specific needs, is but one. It's also easy to think that cider-making is substantially easier than brewing, but Nine Pin is actively disproving that notion, taking the time to finely craft an excellent fermented beverage. The cider itself is fantastic. It’s crisp and refreshing. It pours a very gentle straw color in the glass, with a pleasant light carbonation. It manages the perfect balance between sweet and dry, knocking the artificially sweetened mass-produced ciders for a loop and proving that New York's state fruit is the apple for a reason.
This will, of course, be Nine Pin's first TAP NY festival. They just opened their taproom and began widespread distribution through Remarkable Liquids in February, but are already receiving acclaim from all throughout the Capital Region. For those of you coming to the festival from different parts of the state which have not yet had a chance to try this cider, I highly recommend you do. When you're there, look for their flagship product, the Signature Blend, and be sure to say hi to Alejandro & Co. If you find yourself in Albany, stop in at their tasting room, located at 929 Broadway.