"Great fruit has always been the cornerstone of the brand," says Ryan Burk, head cider maker for Angry Orchard. Since the company launched in 2011, the craft beer and hard cider industries have boomed around it, propelling the brand to the national prominence. "After a few years of record growth, we decided we needed to have a home base where people could experience our brand and where we could develop new ciders in orchard context," Burk says. In 2015, Angry Orchard opened the Innovation Cider House on the site of the former Crist orchard in Walden. "People often think cider is a singular thing, but it's a broad category," Burk says. "There is a cider for every taste and every meal." Part of the goal of the Walden facility is to educate the public about where cider comes from, how it's made, and the range of flavor profiles possible. In the taproom, guests can sample limited-run specialty ciders made onsite. Angry Orchard also hosts regular cider-pairing suppers where guests can enjoy local food and learn how to bring cider to the table. The brand continues to source much of their fruit from Europe, but they are partnering with the Crist family to transition the orchard from culinary varieties to classic heirloom cider varieties for future production. Stay tuned: In April, Angry Orchard will unveil Maple Wooden Sleeper, a seasonal, maple-infused bourbon barrel-aged cider, made in collaboration with Crown Maple.
To celebrate the release of Maple Wooden Sleeper, an exclusive collaboration with Crown Maple, Angry Orchard will host Sugar Shack Weekend on April 7 and 8 from 12 to 5pm. This limited edition cider is aged in bourbon maple syrup barrels to give it a distinctly rich and smokey flavor. Guests can purchase bottles while supplies last and sip Angry Orchard by the fire. Crown Maple will be on site offering syrup samples, and there will be a delicious cider-infused brunch menu that includes breakfast pizza with candied bacon and fried chicken in a waffle cone with a Maple Wooden Sleeper glaze. On Saturday, April 7 at 2pm, Burk will discuss how the cider is made. There will also be live music both days. Preorder a bottle of Maple Wooden Sleeper to pick up at the event.