There’s been a lot going on in the Colorado Ciderverse since my last post–both with me personally and in general. In the latter category, I recently attended the first Colorado Cider Circus–a cider and beer festival complete with circus entertainers and a rather remarkable band–March Fourth–that puts on an amazing, carnival-like show.
Cider Circus was held at the Copper Mountain Resort near Frisco, CO, on August 29th. Copper Mountain is somewhat unique in that it has a large, open, festival space with a band shell right at the base of the resort, surrounded by restaurants and condos. It’s a convenient, beautiful location to hold events, and it worked quite well for the Cider Circus.
Behind the fenced area for the festival was a large pile of snow in use by snowboarders; it made for an interesting backdrop:
We managed to find a condo only a hundred yards or so from the event, which meant that we could safely sample ciders to our hearts’ content. And sample we did…
The Festival Vibe
The event was a lot of fun–not too over the top in terms of the circus atmosphere (no creepy clowns, thankfully…), but vibrant and entertaining, while still allowing you space to focus on cider-tasting if that was your preference.
The main feature was a cider and beer tasting event, for which you received unlimited sample fills of your commemorative tasting glass during the festival hours. The sample glasses were quite unique–even among my ever-growing collection of tasting event glassware:
There was an initial, VIP session from 12:00pm-1:30pm that was worth it for me in that I spent some extra time chatting up the cidery staff at the various cider tents (Shawn Larson of Big B’s was a lot of fun to talk to, before he got taken out by a wasp sting–don’t let anyone tell you it’s easy running a cidery…) before the larger crowd showed up. It was a bit sleepy initially–we got there right at noon–but it filled up quickly, and the performers made for some interesting entertainment.
After the VIP session, things got gradually busier, and when the band started playing, the party really got started.
Here are some images from within the festival space to give you a sense of things:
Other highlights included the Cheese Pairing tent (you bring your cider sample of choice up to the tent and they gave you a piece of cheese to pair with it–this was a lot of fun and they had some great cheeses) and ciders infused with various fruits through a Randall (hop chamber infuser invented by Dogfish Head Brewing).
Did I mention there was cider? There was…quite a bit of it. There was also a lot of beer–some of it quite good–but while I partook of both, this is a cider blog, so…that’s what you get to hear about here.
Here are my Untappd listings/ratings from the event:
- Finnriver Dry Hopped Cider
- Rambling Route Cider (a brand of Tieton Cider Works)
- Troy Cider’s Wild Fermented Cider
- Tempting Sun by Branch Out Cider
- Wild Washington Apple by Tieton Cider Works
- Snow Capped Cider’s Sour Cherry
- Snow Capped Cider’s Boondocker (a hopped cider)
- Snow Capped Cider’s Honeycrisp Hard Cider
- Snow Capped Cider’s Sidra (an acetic, Spanish-style cider)
- Cherry Cider by Tieton Cider Works
- Ginger by C Squared Ciders
- Nona by C Squared Ciders
- Ciderkin by Argus Cidery
- Redfield by West County Cider
- One Night Fruit Stand by Big B’s
- Orchard Original by Big B’s
- Cherry Daze by Big B’s
- Somerset by Big B’s–my favorite cider at the event!
- Lazy Daze by Big B’s
- Farmer Monte’s Hard Cider by Skarsgaard Farm
- ‘Ol Stumpy by Colorado Cider Company (my check-in is older, but this cider was at the event)
- Newtown Pippin by Colorado Cider Company (my check-in is older, but this cider was at the event)
- Remedy by Stem Ciders–strawberry infusion pulled through a Randall
I guess you can see which activity I prioritized at Cider Circus from the above…but hey, it was a cider event, I’m a cider geek, and I had a condo within walking distance.
Highlights of the sampling:
- Somerset was my favorite cider of the bunch, and a good reason to attend the VIP session as there was only a bottle or two available–it’s a wild-fermented Winesap cider available only at Big B’s tasting room. It’s got some pretty fabulous farmhouse funk to it, with that slightly spicy, mineral kick that Winesap contributes to a cider. Somerset, plus their similar, one-off cider, One Night Fruit Stand, is quite a find, and will likely result in my making a pilgrimage to their tasting room in Hotchkiss quite soon…
- Big B’s stole the show for me overall–their ciders were on the drier side, and made from pure, natural apple juice (no concentrate). They seem to improve markedly every time I try them, and they frequently come out with new ciders to keep things interesting. They’re also about as local as it gets in Colorado in terms of apple sourcing, growing their own apples on the Western Slope of Colorado.
- Stem Ciders showed me that cider infusions are not just a gimmick–their strawberry-infused Remedy was exceptional–floral and fruity from the hops and strawberries, without overwhelming the apple flavors of the cider. Well done, guys.
- Farmer Monte’s Hard Cider was surprisingly delicious for being made from only Gala and Fuji…it can be tough to coax much character out of table fruit, but they’ve done it quite well, and while keeping the cider quite dry. I’m looking forward to what they do next.
See the Cider Circus website for the complete listing of cideries and breweries represented at the event.
How can I describe the March Fourth Band? Well, they were utterly unique, for one thing, and in a good way. Imagine if the staff of an entire carnival got together to form a band that they would all be members of, wearing their carnival costumes onstage. That was the basic experience, but it was more than that–their music is quite good, their energy infectious, and they got pretty much the entire crowd on their feet and dancing along.
Here’s how their website describes them:
“MarchFourth! is an internationally-acclaimed, genre-breaking FORCE in the world of entertainment — a sonic explosion delivered by 20 musicians, dancers and artisans who travel the world, year-round, taking audience members of all ages, from all walks of life, on a joy-inducing, foot-stomping, booty-shaking, soul-stirring journey that defies categorization.
With exceptional musical quality and a visual kaleidoscope of stilt walkers, hoopers and Vaudeville-style dancers, MarchFourth! whips audiences into a celebratory frenzy with an over-the-top spectacle of high-energy compositions, colorful costumes, hilarious stage shenanigans, and irresistible charisma!
This is not a band that simply “puts on a show.” MarchFourth! delivers a multi-faceted, indelible experience for those who are lucky enough to be in attendance. If you have ever been to one of their performances then you know it is all this and more.”
This isn’t just hype–they really are like that. And they were in full force at the Cider Circus event.
The effect was quite memorable–here’s a snippet to give you a sense of the setting:
And a couple still images:
You get the idea…and if you don’t, there are a bunch of videos of them on YouTube (this one, for instance).
While I was a bit skeptical going in, I must say I had a great time at the Cider Circus. So did everyone I know who attended. I’m looking forward to seeing more Colorado ciders–and more of you–at next year’s Cider Circus event!
In fact, I hope to be serving you some of my own cider there at some point.
As some of you may know, I’ve joined fellow Longmontians Dean and Cindy Landi to start St. Vrain Cidery in Longmont, CO. We’re in early stages now, but I’ll be sure to keep you posted here and elsewhere. For now, like the Facebook Page and follow us on Twitter if you want to stay informed.
Until next time, this is Dan, signing off…now go enjoy a cider.