Angry Orchard in Walden, NY

A 40-minute drive from the heart of Poughkeepsie to Walden, NY, the Angry Orchard: Hard Cider company has opened up their first research and development facility to the public. A soft opening in November 2015, and officially open to the public since April of this year, the Angry Orchard Brewery has recently celebrated their one year anniversary.

60 acres of fertile land, this farm property has been functioning for close to 100 years. “It wasn’t until the 1960’s that the orchard was converted to strictly apples,” stated Kelly Barfoot, Cider Ambassador Lead at Angry Orchard Brewery. “The land managers realized they had a true gem in their hands.”

New York state is the nation’s top apple producing state, aside from Washington; therefore, it should be no surprise that the Hudson Valley’s land abundance is the perfect place for an orchard. The land is constantly maintained to stay fertile with New York’s snowy winters, rainy springs, blazing summers and crisp autumns.

Although the winter months are quickly approaching, Angry Orchard Brewery is in full swing with their innovation centers, complimentary cider tastings, and guided tours.

This orchard is a new facility primarily in charge of the company’s research and development of new ciders. Their innovation center, as Barfoot mentioned, works on creating new flavors for the Angry Orchard company, which will be produced directly on the premises. Unique to the Walden facility itself, there is a small batch of these products that are only offered at this location.

When looking at the primary ingredients of cider, the answer is easy — apples. However, the same cannot be said of the process in which it takes to acquire these apples and turn them into cider.

The apples at Angry Orchard Brewery are mainly taken from their onsite orchard location. While other apples also come from upstate NY, Washington state, or they are shipped from overseas like Normandy, France. This is due to the fact that when making cider, the brewery must consider obtaining a variety of apples.

As Barfoot explained, there are two primary types of apples that exist. The culinary apples, which are the grocery store apples, and the cider apples, which are crab apples — more acidic, in nature. When looking at these types of apples, although they may look similar, the difference is found within. “Some are more bittersweet or bittersharp — depending on the type of flavor the brewery wants the cider to be, we choose the apples accordingly,” she adds.

Angry Orchard Brewery offers a variety of ciders, providing a spectrum of tastes ranging from sweet cider to semi-dry cider. Currently on their menu, their top seller is the “Knotty Pear”, this sweet apple cider contains pear juice, cardamom citrus, and mint. While their “Farm Cider” contains no yeast or sugar added — the apple themselves is what’s in the alcohol. And on the semi-dry side is their “Rose for Sal” a cider made with apples from the brewery’s orchard and blueberries from Michigan state.

This is all presented in greater depth when customers take a guided tour of the facility at Angry Orchard Brewery. “This is the only place for people to come in and actually visit” added Barfoot as she explained why the Walden location is so unique. One of the brewery’s most popular tour is their Treehouse tour, overlooking the 60 acres of land, as their website reads “the treehouse offers visitors an entirely different perspective of our ciders and the Hudson Valley landscape.” Although this tour of their infamous Treehouse has been closed for the winter season, and will open back up in the spring, there are self guided tours as well. Displaying the history of the property and how Angry Orchard cider is made, these tours give visitors an inside look at the different parts of the facility — like the fermentation tanks.

However, the tour that most people seem to be coming back for time and time again, is their Complimentary Cider Tasting Tour. As local Poughkeepsie college student, Daniela Garcia, explained, “We were going apple picking and actually ended up apple cider tasting and it was all free — it was awesome!”

As long as visitors have valid identification that show they are 21+, they receive a token as an admissions ticket. This little token provides visitors with three or four 6-ounce glasses of the cider of their choosing.

A huge chalkboard hangs on the wall where all the different ciders available are displayed. “There is usually 6 different ciders on draft [to choose from],” Barfoot explained. “There’s always 2 original ones that are exclusive to the facility and can only be found here.”

Sipping on free Angry Orchard samples while enjoying the view of the land, Garcia said, “I’m going back soon! I originally heard it from some friends who went, and we couldn’t believe that it was free.” While Barfoot explained that this tactic has definitely helped in their promotion of Angry Orchard, it’s a tour that as of right now will continue to exist year round seeing as it has helped spread the word out about them.

Continuing to spread their promotion, the Walden facility has also just released their latest cider. The “Wooden Sleeper” is aged in four different types of bourbon barrels and aged in a span of five months. As Barfoot mentioned, there are around 700 other types ciders that Angry Orchard produces but the Wooden Sleeper and four other exclusive flavors can only be obtained at the cider house here in Walden.

This Angry Orchard Brewery has been very prosperous since its grand opening just a year ago, which is why they are also trying to promote local businesses. Becoming an active part of the community, they also offer a variety of local products in their gift shop.

Despite the snowy winter ahead of us, Angry Orchard has accommodated to visitors with their new winter season hours. Continuing to stay open so as to provide visitors with their complimentary tour of the orchard, regardless of the temperature outside, — who doesn’t want to enjoy a few glasses of Angry Orchard Apple Cider on the house?

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