Eating from the land is a practice many Wisconsinites are familiar with. But “tree-to-glass” drinking is a rarer experience for those now more accustomed to city living. Which makes The Cider Farm’s tasting room at Brennan’s Market in Madison a superb staycation outing—the ability to sample an array of alcoholic beverages made with locally-grown apples sans the drive through the Driftless region to the full orchard in Mineral Point.
Proprietors John Biondi and Deirdre Birmingham planted their first European apple trees over two decades ago. Each varietal they select is organic and specifically cultivated for cider making. Such attention to detail is evident in every aspect of their business model—from the personal greeting every customer immediately gets upon walking through the sliding doors, in addition to following through on their intent for all menu items to be comprised of food produced by other farmers and vendors within the state. The result is overtly fresh nibbles such as a seasonal salad with roasted squash, crispy fried truffle (fingerling) potatoes or massive charcuterie boards loaded with artisanal cheeses, Door County dried cherries and Madison Sourdough baguette slices.
Although the nosh is likely to remain on the lighter side due to only having a micro-kitchen onsite, the beverage offerings are well worth repeat visits. With over 10 tap lines, ordering a flight is a good call for first-timers to get a sense of which ciders or Wisco craft brews are “take home” treasures in terms of dryness, sweetness and ABV percent. Interestingly, The Cider Farm’s Cyser currently has the highest alcohol content. Although don’t expect to notice because the honey added to freshly-pressed apple juice during the fermentation process blossoms into a taste similar to dry Prosecco.
If in the mood for a stiffer sip, try an Apple Brandy Old Fashion, made with The Cider Farm’s two-year aged apple brandy—or one of the other cider-infused cocktails (“Cidertails”), like the sangria. Most importantly, drink up then come often because the cidery will be rolling out its next releases before year’s end.
The Cider Farm is open Wednesday and Thursday, 3 to 8 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. To learn more, visit www.theciderfarm.com.