Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Vander Mill Cider Garden

On Friday, I went to the Grand Opening of the Vander Mill Cider Garden in Spring Lake, MI. Vander Mill hard ciders are served in local bars and restaurants, and they are a destination spot featuring donuts, fudge, and pies all made in an on-site bakery. Paul Vander Heide is the owner, and I chatted with his mother, Nell and with the cider maker Joel Brower.

They were celebrating some new equipment as well as the opening of the cider garden. The equipment is three new stainless steel fermenters; two 30 barrel and one 70 barrel. The garden is a lovely grassy area on the side of the building under two oak trees. On a small stage the Mike Boxer Band played live music.

I tasted several ciders (traditional hard cider, apple cherry, apple blueberry, and apple raspberry) and the Fruit Ridge Apple wine. I also tasted a unique limited release cider that included Indian spices called cider masala. Although they all tasted great, I chose to purchase a pint of the apple cherry in a commemorative glass. Then, I joined the festivities which also featured pizza from Old Boys Brewery and samples of Grassfield Farms organic cheeses.

The ciders are made from Michigan fruits; they are preserved in various ways so they can be used year-round. The store also sells other Michigan products such as maple syrup, honey, and cheese. The cider garden has a kid’s play area and is conveniently located on the way to Grand Haven (from Grand Rapids) on M 104. So, after the celebration I went to see the Lake Michigan sunset. The weather was perfect that evening.

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