Craft cider producers to gather in Albany

400 tickets being sold for each session
Apples before getting pressed for hard cider.
Apples before getting pressed for hard cider.

ALBANY — A celebration of New York’s hard cider producers is coming to town Saturday.

Nine Pin Cider — the first farm cider producer to open after passage of a state law encouraging production of alcoholic cider with New York-grown apples — will host the third annual Gathering of the Farm Cideries at its tasting room and production facility at 929 Broadway in Albany.

Two sessions are planned, from 12-3 and 4-7 p.m. Last year’s edition of the event sold out, and advance tickets for this year’s event are selling out quickly at $20 apiece. As Nine Pin events and marketing coordinator Emily Harris spoke to The Gazette on Tuesday, only 10 tickets were left for the 4-7 p.m. session.

Nine Pin is selling 400 tickets for each session; that’s about as many people as it can accommodate at its facility, even with the production floor opened up.

Participating will be 15 cideries from Brooklyn to Rochester to Massena, including four producers from the greater Capital Region: Nine Pin, Rogers’ Cideryard of Johnstown, Saratoga Apple Hard Cider of Schuylerville and Sundog Cider of Chatham.

With the wide variety and huge number of apples grown in New York — the nation’s second-largest apple producer after Washington — it seems natural that so many producers are coming on line here, as the market for hard cider grows.

“It’s really cool to watch the way it’s all developing,” Harris said.

With so many producers working with so many varieties of apples, each with its own flavor, there’s a huge range of cider being produced.

Attendees at the Gathering on Saturday will get a glass with which to roam around tasting samples, and can buy bottles or cans of what they like best.

Harris credits New York’s farm cidery law — which created favorable regulations for cideries that produce up to 150,000 gallons a year and only use juice from New York apples — with growth of Nine Pin and of the industry sector itself.

“Over the last three years, we’ve grown significantly,” she said, and the Gathering is designed in part to celebrate this. “It’s in honor of the farm-license cidery law,” she said. “We all come together to celebrate the law that was passed.”

Nine Pin has a 17,000-square-foot production space with seven 6,000-gallon fermenting tanks (each named after one of the Seven Dwarfs).

The difference between craft cider producers like Nine Pin and mass producers is that the craft producers use local ingredients, Harris said, particularly if they need to comply with New York’s farm cidery law.

“All of our apples are coming from the Capital Region and the Hudson Valley,” she said. Samascott Orchard in Kinderhook presses the apples it grows into juice that flows right into a tank trailer that is hauled up to Nine Pin in Albany for fermentation.

Nine Pin is currently producing 75,000 gallons of cider a year. Some is canned and bottled for retail sale; some is put in kegs for taps at restaurants and taverns across New York; and some goes right to Nine Pin’s tasting room, where more than a dozen products are usually available by the glass or in a growler, some of them new recipes being market-tested before production.

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