Words by Shelby Deering
Beer tops the list of things Wisconsin does best. But there’s another fermented beverage making waves throughout the state—hard cider. Hundreds of orchards and vineyards dot the Wisconsin countryside, catering to those who prefer something harder over garden-variety apple cider. So we found five great places to discover hard cider in our home state.
Ellison Bay: Island Orchard Cider
Island Orchard Cider is known for its Door County traditions and flavors. They use apples from their Washington Island orchard where the limestone soil and idyllic climate produce 35 varieties of cider apples. And visitors can get up-close and personal with ciders—tour the facility, enjoy a tasting and purchase a six-pack or two after sampling.
Must-Try Ciders: Apple Cherry Cider, Pear Cider, and Bourbon Barrel Brut
Stevens Point: Point Brewery
Point Brewery is home to both beloved beers and Ciderboys Hard Cider. Founded in 1857, it’s the third-oldest continuously-operating, privately-owned brewery in the United States. And the brewery tour does not disappoint. Around 6,000 people make the pilgrimage each year for the tasting which gets you three 10-ounce samples and a free pint glass. The brewery churns out modern-style ciders (made from culinary apples and lower in tannins), and visitors can try Ciderboys varieties during the tour. These award-winning ciders are packed with Washington apples and use only 100% natural ingredients. (You can even see the pulp in the orange-flavored Grand Mimosa cider.)
Must-Try Ciders: Strawberry Magic, Pineapple Hula, and British Dry
Milwaukee: Lost Valley Cider Co.
Lost Valley Cider Co. is a cider-centric bar and taproom started by a father-daughter team in 2016. The first of its kind in the state. Their stock features an impressive amount of local, national, and international ciders from Ypsilanti, Michigan to England and everywhere in between. There are typically 80 or more varieties available at any given time via tap lines, bottles and cans. Their taproom, in a 110-year-old warehouse in Milwaukee’s historic Walker’s Point, is equal parts cozy, community-focused and cool.
Must-Try Ciders: Currant Affair, Rum Barrel #2, Whiskey Barrel #2
Lake Geneva: Ferro Farms
Ferro Farms makes just one type of hard cider. It’s golden in color, semi-sweet and eponymously named. They harvest apples from Wisconsin’s southeast Kettle Moraine region, which is known for its rich glacial soil. The cider has several blue ribbons to its name and spotlights many apple varieties, like Cortland, McIntosh and traces of English apples. The family farm resides near picturesque Lake Geneva, and the cider can be found at several local events, including Tastemaker Chicago, the Great Lakes Beer Fest, and Cider Fest at the Morton Arboretum.
Must-Try Cider: The award-winning Ferro Farms hard cider
Burlington: AeppelTreow Winery & Distillery
“AeppelTreow,” an Old English phrase meaning “apple truth,” is a cider-maker with their tasting room in an appropriate place—an orchard. A husband and wife team have partnered to turn the orchard’s heritage apples into English and French-style ciders. During their popular tastings, cider enthusiasts can sample up to five flavors for free. After choosing a few favorites, they can purchase bottles to take home. Hard ciders at AeppelTreow are quite literally “farm to glass.”
Must-Try Ciders: Kinglet Bitter Draft Cider, Bunting Berry-Apple Cider, and Sparrow Spiced Cider
Header image by Jill Clardy