The roster of ciders at Absolem Cider Company, from left: Atlantica (foeder-aged cider), Bembel (German-inspired cider), Roses Red (cider with Pinot Noir), Dayglow (cider with L’Acadie grape skins), Groundwork: Pietree (single-orchard cider), and Alpine Summer (cider with Riesling & Chambourcin). Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer

Hard cider fans, rejoice: We’re in the midst of a cider revival in Maine.

Cider was a staple alcoholic beverage in New England in the 18th and early 19th centuries, though it fell out of favor for a long stretch and didn’t regain a significant fanbase until the 2010s.

But in the last 15 years or so, cider has been drawing more and more American consumers – some because it’s gluten-free, others simply because it’s a different experience from beer and wine. Now, hard cider production around the country, and in Maine, is on the rise. The number of licensed cider producers in Maine has roughly doubled in the last four years from 18 to more than 35.

This means a bevy of new options for cider drinkers, and still many more to come. We talked with seven cideries that have launched in the past few years about the kinds of cider they produce and what sets them apart from the pack.

Some, like Freedom’s Edge in Albion, seem poised to break into the greater New England market. Others are so brand-new they don’t even have names yet.

Whether you like your cider dry or sweet, made from dessert apples like McIntosh, Macoun and Honeycrisp, or traditional bittersweets and bittersharps like Kingston Black and Dabinett, infused with flavorings or apple-focused, there’s something at these new operations to please practically every palate. And if you’re new to cider in general, there’s never been a better time to give it a whirl.


The tasting room inside the 1830’s barn at Absolem Cider Company. Shawn Patrick Ouellette/Staff Photographer


Where: Winthrop,

When launched: 2022

Gallons/year produced: About 5,000

Tasting room: Absolem is housed in a 150-year-old barn that doubles as a spacious tasting room area with about 15 ciders on draft. Open 4-9 p.m. Thursday, 4-10 p.m. Friday, noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday.

Bottles/cans sold in stores/restaurants: Absolem will have five ciders distributed in Maine this year.


Kinds of apples used: A wide variety, gathered from about 25 Maine orchards. Northern Spy and Golden Russets are staples in many Absolem ciders, though 30 or more apple varieties go into Groundwork: Pietree, their single-orchard, field-blend cider made from apples harvested at Pietree Orchard in the town of Sweden.

What sets it apart: Many of the cider makers we talked to pointed to Absolem as some of the best cider in Maine. The cidery is actively encouraging orchards in the state to grow more traditional cider apples, and while they already work with more than two dozen Maine orchards, Absolem partner Kevin Sturtevent said, “We’re just scratching the tip of the iceberg in making these connections. We want to continue the cider tradition and make it relevant to modern consumers. It’s a wide-open space, and there’s tons of room for experimentation.”

Try these: Float Away, 7.5% ABV, fermented with native yeasts and aged in oak barrels, featuring Rhode Island Greening, Ashmead’s Kernel and Dabinett apples; Groundwork: Pietree, 7.4% ABV, made from 30 different heirloom varieties from Pietree Orchard and aged in oak barrels for 12 months.

Allagash Cider being poured at the brewery’s tasting room in Portland. Courtesy of Allagash Brewing Company


Where: Portland,

When launched: Allagash, known for its Belgian-style beer, started harvesting apples for cider in 2021.


Gallons/year produced: 1,500 in 2022

Tasting room: Open Sunday, Monday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Bottles/cans sold in stores/restaurants: No, but they’re considering it.

Kinds of apples used: Allagash sources apples from Maine orchards, including varieties like Honeycrisp, Golden Delicious, Cortland, Bramley’s Seedling, Chisel Jersey, Golden Russet, Gold Rush, Nod Head, Northern Spy, Frostbite, Roxbury Russet, Calville Blanc, Liberty, Smokehouse and Orleans.

What sets it apart: Allagash Brewmaster Jason Perkins said the brewery got into the cider game after noticing that some visitors to its tasting room wanted to sip something other than beer, either because of taste preferences or gluten intolerances. “We wanted to be able to offer something to those folks that we made ourselves, so that was a real big piece of the motivation behind us taking on cider,” Perkins said.

The brewery makes only one cider, Allagash Cider, but Perkins said they’re experimenting with cider blended with other fruit juices, and also barrel-aging. The Allagash tasting room will be pouring a new cider later this fall that has been aged in bourbon and rum barrels.


Try this: Allagash Cider, 7.1% ABV, a blend of 15 apple varieties co-fermented with a pét-nat yeast strain. A portion of each batch is aged in Cognac barrels.

Portlanders Luke Madden and Katie Perry sit at the bar at Anoche in Portland, sipping cider. Hard cider is having a moment, in Portland and nationally. Ben McCanna/Staff Photographer


Where: Farmington, at Morrison Hill Orchard;

When launched: 2019

Gallons/year produced: About 1,000

Tasting room: The orchard has a tasting room with at least four ciders always on tap.


Bottles/cans sold in stores/restaurants: No, but it hopes to in coming years and has planted more apple trees at the orchard so it can expand its operation.

Kinds of apples used: Ayuh makes cider exclusively from the more than 30 apple varieties grown at Morrison Hill Orchard (where it’s based), including dessert apples like McIntosh, Macoun, Cortland, Red and Golden Delicious and Empire, one of their favorites. Morrison Hill also has some cider apple trees and has planted more for future use, including Dabinett, Black Oxford and Wickson varieties.

What sets it apart: Ayuh prides itself on using only Morrison Hill apples. As Ayuh cider maker Chris Hollingsworth said, “The closer the apple is to where the fermentation occurs, the better the cider.” Hollingsworth also emphasized that while larger producers will kill the natural apple yeast during fermentation and add in other yeasts and sugars to speed up the process to about four weeks, “We make ours the old-fashioned way, they way our grandfathers used to. It’s harder the way we do it.” Ayuh ferments its cider for up to six months, relying only on the natural yeast and sugar in their apples, then “cold-shocks” the liquid to clarify the finished cider.

Try these: Sweet Life, 5.25% ABV, a blend of some of Morrison Hill’s late-season apples, with no added sugar; Crabby Apple, 5.9% ABV, a mixture that includes Dolgo crab apples, with tart flavor up front that rounds into a naturally sweet, smooth finish.


Where: Hancock


When launched: This brand-new cidery just filed its federal paperwork in September. Owner Mathias Kamin III said he hopes to be up and running by Thanksgiving.

Gallons/year produced: Expects about 2,000 this year.

Tasting room: Bon Vent’s tasting room is expected to be operational by spring in the front of the 1,000-square-foot cidery.

Bottles/cans sold in stores/restaurants: Not yet, but Kamin said he expects to distribute bottled Bon Vent cider in the coming months.

Kinds of apples used: Kamin intends to used only wild cider apples foraged from heirloom trees, gathering as many as four tons from around Hancock County, including the Pullman Sweet apple from 200-year-old trees in Surry.

“To do it this way takes a lot of seeking and searching, knocking on doors. To find those gems is more what I love to do and indicative of the cider I’m trying to create, which expresses New England and New England cider in a better way than maybe can be done currently,” Kamin said, referring to cideries that use dessert apples from orchards.


What sets it apart: “We’re honoring the heirloom trees in Maine,” Kamin said. “And we’re reintroducing landowners to the treasure they have on their property. A lot of people, when they taste apples from these trees, they think they’re worthless because they’re very tannic or odd-shaped and crabby looking, what the old timers would refer to as ‘spitters.’ But they’re very important trees.”

The Original Blend cider from Freedom’s Edge in Albion. Courtesy of Freedom’s Edge


Where: Albion,

When launched: 2020

Gallons/year produced: 50,000

Tasting room: Near the Albion orchard, open noon to 6 p.m. Saturday from April to November. Freedom’s Edge is opening another tasting room at 31 Diamond St. in Portland’s East Bayside around year’s end, which will be daily, year-round.


Bottles/cans sold in stores/restaurants: Yes. Freedom’s Edge is perhaps the state’s biggest hard cider producer. Cans and bottles of their cider are available at more than 100 bars and restaurants around Maine, as well as in all Hannaford stores.

Kinds of apples used: Freedom’s Edge starts its process with pressed juice from traditional cider apples they source in the United Kingdom, as well as varieties of dessert apples from orchards around Maine.

What sets it apart: Their comparatively large scale distinguishes the operation: Freedom’s Edge produces at least 10 times more cider than most other Maine cideries. Co-founder Andy Kaplan said as it grew, his cidery introduced some sweeter ciders – like Sweet Mull-et, made with cinnamon, nutmeg, orange peel and other mulling spices – to please customers who prefer a less dry blend. But for others, Freedom’s Edge also plans to produce more wine-like bottled ciders using complex combinations of fruit.

Try these: Original Blend, 6.8% ABV, the cidery’s top-seller, a semi-dry, balanced cider made from a blend of local dessert apples and traditional English bittersweets; Freedom’s Edge Gold, 7.7% ABV, an off-dry, limited-release premium blend from the 2020 harvest using Northern Spy, Golden Russet, Yarlington Mill, Dabinett, Ellis Bitter, Ashton Bitter and Wickson apples.

The line of ciders from Tin Top Cider Co. in Alna. Courtesy of Tin Top Cider Co.


Where: Alna,


When launched: 2021

Gallons/year produced: Nearly 2,000

Tasting room: Open 5-8 p.m Friday from and 2-8 p.m Saturday and Sunday.

Bottles/cans sold in stores/restaurants: No, cider maker Jon Villeneuve said Tin Top isn’t yet large enough for distribution. But the cidery occasionally sells kegs at partner breweries and restaurants, and you can take away 32-ounce growlers from the tasting room.

Kinds of apples used: Tin Top starts with fresh-pressed juice from a variety of apples at Ricker Hill Orchards in Turner. Their Trad Root uses traditional cider apples, though most of their ciders use dessert apples.

What sets it apart: Because it begins with pressed juice made from stored apples, Tin Top can make cider year-round, not just during the fall apple harvest. “We figured we’d let the experts store and press the apples for us, and we’d focus on what we’re good at,” Villeneuve said, adding that their approach is more akin to beer-making than wine-making.


Because the fresh cider from dessert apples isn’t as complex or deep as cider from traditional cider apples like bittersweets and bittersharps, Tin Top ferments some of the juice in whiskey barrels, and adds hops or flavorings like jalapeno to others to boost flavor.

“We felt there was a middle ground of beer drinkers that hadn’t tried cider yet,” Villeneuve said. “And we wanted to do more fun things with the cider that the wine-making end of the cider world might have frowned upon in the past. We’re following in the footsteps of some Vermont cider innovators like Citizen Cider and Stowe Cider.”

Try these: Trad Route, 6.0-8.5% ABV, Tin Top’s once-a-year blend of traditional cider apples; Kicker, 6.0% ABV, a ginger cider with citrus notes inspired by the Moscow Mule cocktail. “We find it appeals to not just traditional cider drinkers, but also folks who might prefer a beer at a bar,” Villeneuve said.


Where: Machias

When launched: Owner and cider maker Ross Florance received his small winery license in October.


Gallons/year produced: Plans to make 400-500 this year.

Tasting room: Florance hopes eventually to have a dedicated tasting room, but will start by serving three ciders out of his Machias bakery and cafe, La Laiterie, starting in November. La Laiterie is open from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

Bottles/cans sold in stores/restaurants: No

Kinds of apples used: Like Kamin at Bon Vent, Florance forages for all of his cidery’s apples, using mostly traditional cider and wild apples that haven’t always been named or identified.

What sets it apart: “The style we’re going for and the approach we use is more wine-like,” Florance said. “And these ciders are made to be paired with food.” Florance is also a chef who owns the tasting-menu restaurant Flora in Machias, where he will pair his complexly flavored ciders with appropriate courses.

Florance said his cidery will also co-ferment cider with grapes and blueberries from his Machias farm.

Try these: Sirène, 7% ABV, fermented in oak barrels for eight months, followed by a secondary ferment using honey from Florance’s farm. The fine-bubbled cider is “dry like a good Champagne, and has a nice roundness at the end that comes from the rich wildflower honey.”

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