Cidery Name: Citizen Cider
Type of Cidery: Brewpub
Location: Burlington, VT
Facebook: Citizen Cider
Background: Citizen Cider is one of the most popular hard cider makers in New England. Located in Burlington, VT, the cidery has become known for producing a wide range of high-quality products. They’ve experimented with dry-hopped ciders, herbed ciders, sweet ciders, and dry ciders, and their distinctive cans and bottles have made it into bottle shops all over the region. I’ve dragged Alex, my poor fiancée, to brewery after brewery despite her gluten allergy, so when we realized we were just a few blocks from one of her favorite cideries, I was only too happy to pay Citizen Cider a visit.
Growlers: No, but both cans and bottles are readily available in the taproom.
The Ciders: Citizen Cider has a regular rotation of beers that includes a standard dry cider, a ginger cider, and even a cider made to resemble a witbier. Since Alex and I were well acquainted with this core series of ciders, we opted instead to focus on the more interesting, uncommon offerings in the taproom. These included:
Vibe: Citizen Cider is a really cool place. Just a really cool place. The taproom has a great vibe, and while I can imagine it being a little claustrophobic during the winter, with the doors open and the deck full display, it was a beautiful sight to see.
A mix of long tables and high-tops greets you when you walk in, along with a lengthy wooden bar for those just stopping in for a pint. The walls are adorned with all manner of photographs and artwork, and the industrial-style vibe of the space gives it an open, spacious feel. Exposed lights dangle from fixtures hanging from the ceiling, which I imagine must look very cool in the evening.
Service was great--even though we moved around a bit to catch the sun, they never lost track of us. The staff was friendly, and both food and cider made their way to our table faster than I ever expected. The murmur of conversation that always seems to fill the space settles over you like a blanket, providing a warm, comforting sense of belonging. With dozens of people there enjoying a refreshing cider on a beautiful day, Citizen Cider can’t help but feel friendly and welcoming.
Dogs: Yes! We saw more than half a dozen dogs traipsing through the taproom while we were there. We were lucky enough to visit on a beautiful spring day, so many people were out and about with their furry friends.
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. If you’re just stopping in for a flight or a pint, Citizen Cider definitely isn’t going to break the bank. Even their takeaway cans and bottles are very reasonably priced, considering how expensive craft beer and cider has gotten. But be warned--you may find yourself unable to resist their amazing food.
Food: Yes. Oh, yes. Citizen Cider has a full food menu, and you would be doing yourself a disservice to not at least sample some of what they have on offer. From starters and sandwiches to entree-sized meals, Citizen Cider offers a ton of different options to choose from. We only snacked on a couple of (delicious) sides during our time there, but the entire taproom was filled with the smell of delicious food that left us wishing we had stopped by earlier for lunch.
Final Thoughts: If you love cider, you owe it to yourself to pay Citizen Cider a visit. Their impressively broad array of ciders ensures that there’s something for everyone, and even those who don’t typically gravitate toward cider will likely find something that appeals to their palate here. Whether you love cherries, basil, ginger, maple syrup, or a variety of different hops, Citizen Cider stands ready to satisfy.
Shane: Every year, Pete, York, and I reunite in Ocean City with a handful of friends, and every year we bring a bunch of beers along with us to sample together. I was pretty happy with last year’s batch of beers, but, I have to say, I think I outdid myself this year. A pair of Tree House beers, including one from the one-off Curiosity series, a staple from Austin Street Brewery that Pete has been begging me to get ahold of, a pair of sours, Great Rhythm’s first-ever double IPA release, and another double IPA clocking in at an astounding 12% alcohol. If that doesn’t sound like a tasty lineup of beers, I don’t know what does.
York: Lots to live up to after a strong showing at last year’s beach trip for Shane! I see he’s brought along a competitor to last year’s Seed from Bissell Brothers and another set of Tree House brews. Obviously excited for those, but my true interest lies in the Double Squeeze from Great Rhythm. I’ve been really high on everything I’ve had from them and am looking forward to their continued dominance. Plus, who can say no to checking out a 12% IPA that claims to be hoppy and fresh!?
York: Crisp, light, clean beers is the focus on this batch! I’ve assembled a mix of beers that are all brews that I go for on hot (that’s a relative thing to say in San Francisco, I know) days when the refreshing quality of a beer is especially appreciable. I was able to get my hands on some Cellarmaker, which is a brewery both the guys have requested more from, and have also included two hoppy brews from HenHouse, a big up-and-comer in the San Francisco area. A bright sour, a tropical blonde, and a pilsner collab from two of my favorite breweries round out this lineup of thirst quenchers!
Shane: This is an exciting batch of beers, featuring a few breweries whose beers I have never sampled before. I’m particularly excited for another crack at Cellarmaker, given that the first beer I tried from them wasn’t quite up my alley. I’ve been dying to try their Dobis and Double Dobis IPAs, so the fact that York was able to get his hands on some of the former is hugely exciting. Add in another beer from Alvarado Street Brewing and one from Local, and this batch has my mouth watering already. I’m also excited to taste Sunbather, as York has yet to send us a single sour from the West Coast that was anything less than delicious.
Pete: Here we get a little light variety from California. Usually these batches are just a slew of double IPA’s from the first area of the country to put their stamp on the style. I like that we finally get a pilsner in here and a sour is never something to turn your nose up at. I spy a bunch of pale ales too which is great for me because I will take a nice pale ale over a bunch of IPAs any day. I like sessioning beers and a good hoppy pale ale is the best session for me. You get all the hops while still enjoying a beer that doesn’t knock you on your ass. I am especially excited to try Cellarmaker and their Dobis. They are probably the most popular cool kid brewery that I have heard of and their Dobis is their take on Citra so I expect it is good. I am calling this a York summer pack because these are perfect beers to wrap up summer with. Cheers!
Brewery Name: Long Blue Cat Brewing Company
Type of Brewery: Brewpub
Location: 298 Rockingham Rd Londonderry, NH. The brewery is located near Manchester–Boston Regional Airport (MHT), as well as near Backyard Brewery & Kitchen, another recent entrant into the New Hampshire brewing scene.
Facebook: Long Blue Cat Brewing Co.
Background: Owned by Jason Knight and Shane Sorenson, two childhood friends from New Hampshire, Long Blue Cat Brewing Company opened its doors for the first time this December. The beer they brew is the result of years of homebrewing experience, and the brewery itself the culmination of the two friends’ ambition to enter the burgeoning New Hampshire beer scene. Of course, you’re probably wondering one thing right about now: what’s the deal with the name? Since Long Blue Cat doesn’t even spoil that secret on their own website, I won’t do it here. But suffice it to say that it’s an endearing story, and you can find it framed on the wall of the brewery’s taproom. You can also stop in and ask them yourself!
Growlers: Yep, growlers are currently the only way to take beer away from Long Blue Cat, as they do not appear to have can or bottling capabilities at the moment. I’m not sure if they are planning to change that, but given New Hampshire’s draconian beer laws and the fact that Long Blue Cat only recently opened, growlers are a perfectly satisfying solution to the takeaway problem.
The Beers: Long Blue Cat had a good number of beers on tap when I visited, and I took the opportunity to sample almost all of them. My flight included:
Vibe: The brewery only recently opened, and during my visit they were still enjoying a healthy “new brewery” boom. The taproom was crowded, but there were plenty of tables and lots of space at the various high-tops for people to sit or stand comfortably. The staff seems like they do a great job of managing the space, and the layout was clearly put together with free-flowing movement and accessibility in mind. Tables are spaced out enough that you’ll be able to hear each other talk without being drowned out by neighboring conversations.
The walls are decorated in classic brewpub form, with cans from various breweries both in the immediate area and beyond lining the ceiling. I saw cans from heavyweight breweries like Tree House and Trillium on display, as well as some well-deserved representation for smaller, local breweries like Henniker and Garrison City. It’s clear that Long Blue Cat has a lot of love for their New Hampshire compatriots.
Service was awesome. It’s surprising how much of a difference little modern updates can make, such as having the waitstaff carry smartphones that they can use to take and keep track of orders, as well as allow patrons to pay for their drinks right then and there. This makes a HUGE difference, especially at a time when the brewery is packed with people. Not having to wonder whether your drink order will be correct or wait for your bill to come is a little thing that makes the entire experience so much more enjoyable. I wish more breweries (and bars, for that matter) would follow Long Blue Cat’s example.
Overall, I look forward to coming back. Between the helpful staff, great layout, cool vibe, and awesome slate of different beer styles, Long Blue Cat is doing some really great things, especially for a brewery that only recently opened its doors. Really well done!
Dogs: I don’t think so. The brewery is a true brewpub, and with food prep stations clearly visible and a full food menu, it’s unlikely that dogs are welcome. That’s too bad, but it’s also completely understandable. [UPDATE 3/11/18: Recent visitors have indicated that dogs are often present in the brewery, which is great news. You may wish to proceed with caution as breweries that serve food can be wary of allowing dogs, but for now it appears that your furry friends are more than welcome!
Price ($ to $$$$$): $$. Pretty standard prices for a brewpub. Stopping in for a flight or pint is not going to break the bank.
Food: Long Blue Cat has a pretty robust food menu, and although I haven’t had the chance to sample any of the offerings myself, I’ve heard good things. The menu looked to contain items like flatbreads, grilled cheese sliders, and other fun takes on traditional bar food. I wish I’d had the opportunity to linger a bit longer, because all of the food I saw looked fantastic.
Final Thoughts: I came away impressed, and I look forward to stopping by again. Given the number of different beer styles on offer already, I’m excited to see what the brewers come up with next. As the New Hampshire beer scene continues to grow, I hope more breweries are able to open as successfully as Long Blue Cat.
Shane: I've tried to choose a wide range of beer, but the fact is...I’ve been neglecting my home state of New Hampshire. I’ve included a ton of beers from Maine, a bunch from Vermont, and a lot from Massachusetts, but, with the exception of a few Garrison City beers, New Hampshire has been sadly underrepresented. Well, no more! I’ve chosen eight beers for this tasting, and all but two of them come from the Granite State. I chose a couple of interesting beers from Garrison City, a pair from one of my personal favorite breweries, Deciduous, and a couple of selections from Great Rhythm and Stoneface. To round it out, I’ve included our first beers from both New England Brewing Company and Battery Steele Brewing. Should be a good batch!
York: Easily the best-designed batch Shane has put together in a long time. Riddled with IPAs and pales, this also includes a gose, a weiss, and a stout. Of the three of us, I typically make the furthest reaches to try and preserve a wide spectrum of beers, but credit is given where credit is due here. Pumped to have some more Great Rhythm and Garrison City--both breweries that I was extremely high on in earlier batches. Shane talks quite a bit about Deciduous, too, so it’ll be great to see what they’re about. I won’t lie, the stout generates a bit of an odd look on my face being not only a “white stout,” but also what sounds like a beer that has some heat to it. Definitely a beer I wouldn’t have picked out myself, but that's the fun in this a lot of the time!
Pete: So we go all pale again but get some good style variety. I am a fan of gose and berliner weisse, so I am interested in trying those beers. A Garrison City IPA and some more Great Rhythm can’t be a bad thing, either. Deciduous has been on the radar, so I want to give them a try. Shane wasn’t able to get us the raspberry berliner he raved about, but, if this brewery is as good as he says, these offerings will do. Overall, a nice collection of New England beer, and really shows the variety of what there is to choose from.
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