My wife and I attended our first craft cider fest this past weekend!

Last year, Katie and I started a beer adventure blog with a goal to visit all of Minnesota's 150 +/- craft breweries. While we typically stick to craft beer, we forayed into craft cider this past weekend to attend the Minnesota Cider Fest at St. Paul's Como Park Pavilion.

Forty-three cideries were represented, including 14 Minnesota, 13 national and 16 international. This being our first craft festival, we had some things to learn.

Adam Rozanas

One of the first lessons was that the souvenir glass is also your sample glass. After nearly putting ours away in Katie's bag for safekeeping, we realized everyone else was getting theirs filled with cider to try!

Adam Rozanas

We also learned that the sampler guide is our friend. With so many cideries and ciders to choose from, we knew that trying everything (and staying sober!) would be impossible. So instead, we looked through the sample guide to find cideries or ciders that sounded interesting. Thor's Hard Cider is a cidery based out of Stillwater, MN that I've been interested in for a while, so we went there first. At a recommendation I tried the Jalepeno Cilantro Cider -- it tasted like a taco and burned going down! What a way to start!

Adam Rozanas

Milk & Honey Ciders out of St. Joe is one of our favorite local cideries and was there with their Fauna and Heirloom ciders.

A couple of the more bizarre ciders we tried were a straw and oak cider and chestnut cider. Apparently, the ciders had been filtered through straw and oak and aged in chestnut wood barrels, creating ciders that literally smelled and tasted like a barn -- hay, straw, animals, manure and all! To be honest, they were kind of weird and not our favorites.

Speaking of favorites, our absolute favorite cidery was one out of Oregon called 2 Towns Ciderhouse. Their Maid Marion Blackcherry, Pacific Pineapple and Cherried Away ciders were phenomenal -- a perfect blend of fruits, sweet and yet not too sweet. We definitely went back for multiple samples AND they're  available in the St. Cloud area!

Adam Rozanas

Something else we learned is that it's definitely worth paying extra for early admission to an event like this. We were fortunate enough to have early industry access and admission a couple hours before doors opened to the public. But as soon as they were opened to general ticket holders, the place quickly became crowded and the event less enjoyable.

Adam Rozanas

Overall, we had a really positive first cider fest experience and look forward to attending more!

Milk & Honey Ciders is right here in Central Minnesota's very own backyard! Have you visited recently?

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