Apples, pressing, fermentation. The holy trinity of cider making, and to the apple fermentation guru’s at Wandering Aengus Ciderworks, the only three elements required to forge a great cider.
In fact this same guiding principle is emblematic throughout their process and represented proudly by the Celtic trinity knot found in the center of their brand logo. So when there are only three components to the equation, where do you make your mark? Apples, wisdom, and a love of cider of course.
Wandering Aengus was started in Culver, OR in the far away time of 1999 with the goal of creating great ciders with traditional fermentation techniques. That means fresh pressed apples, and a technique modeled after the great European cider trends of old.
Many of these apples are cider specific apples originating from France, England and Pre-prohibition America, but are now grown right here in Oregon.
There are in fact 20 different apple varietals that are pressed and blended in order to craft these time honored ciders.
Since 99’ W.A. has forged ahead with strong representations such as the Bloom, Dry, and Wanderlust, evolving over the years into mainstays in the rotation. Although an experimental cider has been known to appear from time to time, consistency seems to been the theme.
Consistency and integrity often go hand in hand and the Wandering Aengus brand is about tradition. At the heart of that tradition is the rare, very traditional heirloom apples that are used for their ciders.
Heirloom cider apples are on average no bigger than a 50 cent piece and yet are packed dense with key elements that help produce these great ciders. They have a distinct complex biting flavor, and are often high in tannins, high in sugar, and usually not regarded as great eating apples. (Also known as “Dessert Apples”)
Maybe not “tasty” to the untrained, these apples are highly prized, and in the hands of true apple wizards their fruity potential is realized in it’s greatest final form… apple pie! Just kidding. It’s small batch traditional European and American ciders made right here in the PNW.
In 2010 Wandering Aengus Ciderworks decided it was time to bring that same passion to a bigger market and debuted their Anthem Cider brand to a cider hungry market, quickly capturing the hearts of many casual cider drinkers.
Utilizing the same process, but more readily accessible culinary apples, slow fermentation and traditional champagne yeast, they could produce many more batches and experiment with a whole new palette of flavors, such as cherry, pear, and hopped versions.
These flavors joined the Anthem Classic Cider recently and have been cropping up on shelves ever since.
There has even been some talk of some new seasonal flavors. New fruits? New apple varieties? New variety can packs?
Regardless of the cider line you choose to sample from all ciders are and have remained addition-less with no added sugars, colors, flavors, malic acids, etc since their inception.
Not to mention each cider batch has full apple traceability from grower to cider, an undoubtedly cool feature for those who appreciate knowing exactly where their apples come from.
Look for Wandering Aengus and Anthem ciders in stores and make sure to give them a try, because in this new age of ciders, not all are created equal.
– Keegan Cantrell
The Song of Wandering Aengus
I went out to the hazel wood,
Because a fire was in my head,
And cut and peeled a hazel wand,
And hooked a berry to a thread;
And when white moths were on the wing,
And moth-like stars were flickering out,
I dropped the berry in a stream
And caught a little silver trout.
When I had laid it on the floor
I went to blow the fire a-flame,
But something rustled on the floor,
And someone called me by my name:
It had become a glimmering girl
With apple blossom in her hair
Who called me by my name and ran
And faded through the brightening air.
Though I am old with wandering
Through hollow lands and hilly lands,
I will find out where she has gone,
And kiss her lips and take her hands;
And walk among long dappled grass,
And pluck till time and times are done,
The silver apples of the moon,
The golden apples of the sun.
-W.B. Yeats (1865–1939).