Downeast Cider is hands down my favorite hard cider to date. How is it different from other ciders you ask? Well for starters, it actually looks like apple cider because they leave it unfiltered. Next, it actually tastes like apple cider. This should be a no brainer but many ciders seem to neglect this important facet. Lastly (and arguably the best part), is that it’s made locally (for those of us in Boston at least). Selma and I recently scored a Livingsocial deal for a tour at the cider house and since it was expiring soon, we made our way down to Charlestown for some cider donuts and tastings.
The cider house is located under the Tobin Bridge and in the middle of a bunch of other buildings that look nothing like your typical brewery. On this particular day, we just happened to pass this ridiculous scene on our way there. We later found out that they were all at Downeast for a tour and some tastings before their santa themed charity ride. Simply awesome.
Anyways, back to the tour!
Now, if you are imagining an operation the size of Harpoon, then think again. Downeast is still a relatively small operation and everything from the brewing to the canning/kegging process happens under one tiny roof. We also came on the day of their holiday party so they had the entire place decorated. How classy.
The tours happen every half hour on the weekends and is actually free of charge. Because we arrived in the middle of a tour, we just sat around patiently and took in the sights.
Because crafting a great product is their main concern, little time is spent sprucing up the place. What you see is what you get here which is fine because their cider speaks for itself.
The tour itself was actually very informative and entertaining. Our guide talked about the history of the company and how they developed their recipe for their signature cider. And although it only took us a total of 10 seconds to walk from one side of the facility to the other, it was nice to be able to see the entire operation up close. Also, throughout the tour we were given samples of each variety that was available at the time. Our favorite by far was their Winter Blend which is made with cinnamon bark and nutmeg. Now don’t get me wrong, their signature cider is still delicious. The Winter Blend, however, is out of this world. You will just have to try it to see what I’m talking about.
We were then shown the canning and kegging line which was really neat to see up close. This tower of cans was just too pretty to not photograph.
From time to time, they even do specialty brews where they test out new variations of their cider. This particular batch is aging in used bourbon oak casks. I would love to get my hands on a sample of this batch when it’s ready.
The whole experience felt very homey and not at all like any of the other brewery tours that I’ve been on. It was like being shown around a business by a close friend who loves cider just as much as I do. Plus, the Livingsocial coupon we bought included two glasses and the bottle deposit for a growler so it was definitely a worthwhile purchase. Their cider is a little bit pricier when compared with the competition but then again apples are expensive.
At the end of the tour, we grabbed ourselves some cider donuts (made in house) and a growler of Winter Blend to take home with us.
What can I say, I was content with life at this point.
And we even had time to test out the new DSLR when we got home and do a little photoshoot with the cider. Yep, we’re cider freaks.
If you are fortunate enough to live in their distribution range and love hard cider, I would highly suggest giving Downeast a shot. It really is the best cider ever. And for those of you back home in Texas, there is word that they are planning to distribute there as well in the near future so keep an eye out!
And with that, thanks for reading!