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Taste NY difference at cider events

Premium hard cider is enjoying a boom, with major commercial brewers rushing to bring varieties to market.

“All the major beer players are in it now, and they’ve bought up some big things,” said Jonathan Oakes. “Everybody’s trying to get craft ciders to market, because they’re selling.”

Unfortunately, many are using “bulk concentrate or dessert apples to ferment their base,” he said. “They don’t get that tannic structure of the true English cider apples.”

Taste the difference at upcoming cider tasting events featuring New York State cideries, set for March 25 in Rochester, and Buffalo on March 26. They’re sponsored by Taste NY, a state beverage marketing program.

The Rochester event will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. in Tap and Mallet, 381 Gregory St. The Buffalo event will be 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. at Gene McCarthy’s Tavern, 73 Hamburg St.

Tickets are $10 for the Rochester event, $15 in Buffalo, and cider plus light fare. Tickets can be purchased online through, or at the door.

Participating cideries include South Hill Cider, Ithaca; Steampunk cider maker Leonard Oakes, Lyndonville; BlackBird Cider Works, Barker; Eve’s Cidery, Van Ettan; Harvest Moon Cidery, Cazenovia; Buffalo’s own Chateau Buffalo, which brews in Buffalo from Niagara County apples; and others.

Four years ago, Oakes introduced Steampunk cider, built on a foundation of English cider varieties grown in the Orleans County orchards of his family’s LynOaken Farms, which has operated in Lyndonville for nearly a century, and was already known for its Leonard Oakes Estates Winery.

Now Steampunk and its sister cider Eloquince make up about a third of the farm’s brewed beverage business, he said. Both will be poured at the tastings.

Eloquince elaborates on Oakes’ signature heirloom apple blend with quince from Brown’s Berry Patch in Orleans County. “Quince is a very aromatic fruit, flora and spicy, and it give it more astringency on the palate,” Oakes said. It was introduced at the farm’s Steampunk Festival in August.

By this weekend, Steampunk Eloquince will also be on tap at Ballyhoo, 211 South Park Ave., he said.

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