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Over the past few years, I’ve noticed my friends are increasingly clutching bottles of hard cider rather than beer at social gatherings. And my neighborhood liquor store’s craft cider selection is popping, too, with an increased presence from local makers such as Stem Ciders and Colorado Cider Company. In short, cider—once one of America’s most popular tipples—is making a comeback here in the States. (I wonder if our cider-loving 17th century colonist ancestors found as much appeal in the beverage’s naturally gluten-free aspect as modern-day drinkers do?)
Haykin Family Cider, a new stem-to-glass cidery located off the Lightrail line in Aurora, is particularly poised to raise the local cider scene to new heights. After more than five years as home cider hobbyists using a hand-cranked apple press, husband-and-wife team Daniel and Talia Haykin opened their small-batch tasting room on February 1. If your only existing experience with hard ciders has been sipping mass-produced, syrupy-sweet Woodchuck or Angry Orchard, you’ll be amazed by the flavor of the Haykin’s nuanced brews.
The menu already lists a veritable bushel of drinking options. As with wines, all of the ciders are named for the type of apple they were made with—but don’t expect to see familiar Golden Delicious or Fuji. Rather, the Haykins focus on buying unique varieties of heirloom apples—Cox’s Orange Pippin, Esopus Spitzenburg, Opal—from Fort Collins’ Masonville Orchards and the Western Slope’s Ela Family Farms. “The best fruit doesn’t grow in large quantities,” Daniel says. “Colorado is an inhospitable environment [for apples], but the fruit that does grow here is amazing.”
Take the Rome Beauty, for example. With the addition of yeast and time, this once-popular heirloom variety produces a delicate, floral cider with stunning notes of rose. Or that Opal, which somehow results in a tropical-tasting drink with undertones of ripe banana. Sip your way through a flight of the Haykins’ ciders and you’ll never again entertain the idea that all apples taste the same. With their racy bubbles and in-check sugar levels, these refined ciders drink more like crisp white wines.
If you go: The tasting room is currently open Thursday and Saturday evenings from 5:30 to 9 p.m., where ciders are available by the glass and flight or in bottles to take home. The cidery doesn’t serve food, but you can easily make a trip to nearby Stanley Marketplace before or after, or even order in delivery from Mici Handcrafted Italian. You can also buy Haykin Family Ciders at Pearl Wine Company, the Proper Pour inside the Source, and Joy Wine & Spirits.
12001 E. 33rd Ave., Unit D, Aurora