About our Ciders and Process
High-quality ciders begin as high-quality fresh apple juice and to get that quality juice, we press apples on-site and many of those apples are harvest from our orchards right here in Highland County. We ferment “slow and cold” to best preserve the essence of the apples and then age our ciders post-fermentation, allowing the flavors to mature. Several of our true ciders (those made from just apple) are fermented “single variety” and blended post-fermentation. Our ciders are naturally gluten-free.
Sparkling gold clear Off-Dry cider featuring locally grown wild apples, 7.7% abv.
Wild Meadow is one of the most traditional ciders made at Big Fish Cider, Co. because we actually forage for wild apples in the fields and forest edges of Highland County. These are apples from trees that have grown up from seed, are higher in tannins and acidity, and typically have more depth and body that commercially grown apples. The cider goes through a slow, cold fermentation, which also helps to retain those fruity esters and tannins. While fruity, it is not a sweet cider. You’ll find that it pairs well with pork dishes and cheese, particularly blue or sharp cheese.
Because we rely on a crop of wild apples to make this cider, and most years we cannot harvest enough. We are grateful for the farmers that allow these trees to grow.
Sparkling gold clear Off Dry cider featuring local Dolgo Crabs, Ashmead’s Kernel, Arkansas Black, and Zabergau apples, 7.4% abv..
Crabbottom Valley, the original name for Highland’s Blue Grass Valley, was named due to its abundance of crabapple trees. Pippin is a word that describes an apple tree that is grown from seed, like our abundant wild trees. Often these wild trees are crab apples; and while not always great for eating, they make a beautiful complex cider with tannins and unique flavors. Crabbottom Pippin includes many of our wild apples and is our driest offering. It will be unique every year due to the availability of these wild apples.
Tart, and astringent, at the front, balancing out with hints of grapefruit, cherry and spicy floral notes. Tannins present, but slight, finishes with a clean mouthfeel. This is a favorite cider among the dry wine/cider drinkers.
Crabbottom Pippin tends to pair well pork dishes, sausage, practically any cheeses but particularly blue cheeses and sharp cheeses.
Sparkling gold clear Semi-Dry cider featuring over 20 varieties of locally sourced apples. This is a blend of ciders using 2 different wine yeasts, but the character of this cider really comes from the wild yeast ferment that one of the blends went through, 7.6% abv.
This cider is made from apples donated during our Community Apple Drive. There are many trees in Highland that were planted or grafted by Highland residents 50 plus years ago. The names of the trees have long been forgotten, but the trees still fruit. We cannot tell you the varieties, no one can. But we can tell you it’s all Highland apples, and we think you’ll enjoy.
This wild ferment makes our most complex cider. It has pear and floral notes on the nose. This well balanced cider has a clean yet creamy mouthfeel, combines the sourness of crab apples, with a hint of sweetness, a wonderful blend of earthy notes, some melon and citrus notes. The fruity esters come alive in this cider more than most.
This is the favorite cider of the crew here at Big Fish. This cider is best enjoyed by itself. But due to the complexity pairs well with many types of foods, including oysters, clams, quiche, poultry, green salads, and of course just about any cheese.
Sparkling gold clear Semi-Dry cider featuring locally grown Arkansas Black, Ashmead’s Kernel, Gold Rush, and Jonagold apples, 8.2% abv.
Allegheny Gold is complex due to its slow, cold fermentation, which retains more of the cider’s fruity esters. While fruity, it is not sweet. A combination of brightness and true apple flavors makes this cider stand out among others.
The additional sweetness in this full body cider gives a more well balanced profile to most people, with the sweetness offsetting the astringency. The tannins from the Arkansas Black and Ashmead’s Kernel apples give nice structure to this cider. On the nose there is a nice balanced fruitiness to this cider with the apple being the featured aroma. As you taste, you may notice notes of citrus, caramel, honey, pear and some minerality to this cider which is common for ciders made with Highland County fruit. A truly wonderful cider for those that enjoy the fruitiness that is accented by the slightly higher residual sweetness.
Allegheny Gold goes with a wide variety of dishes but particularly spicy dishes, such as asian or Tex-Mex, also with white sauces such as Alfredo or Carbonara.
Sparkling gold clear Semi-Dry cider featuring locally grown Stayman, Mutsu, Jonagold, Pink Lady and Winesap apples, 8.4% abv.
All of our ciders are carefully crafted in the western mountains of Virginia. In a county with the highest average elevation east of the Mississippi, life in Highland is closely tied to the mountains and our agricultural history. Our elevation influences all stages of cider production from the mountain-grown apples to our slow, cold fermentation process. To honor our unique home, we bring you Elevation.
With a lower acidity than our more traditional ciders, Elevation is great session cider that can be enjoyed on its own and when paired with food, it does not overwhelm the palette.
Sparkling gold clear Off-Dry cider featuring Stayman, Gold Rush, Winesap and Pink Lady. This cider is fermented with local Maple Syrup, and then barrel aged in apple brandy barrels, 8.4% abv.
We grow amazing apples here in Highland, but we are better known for our maple syrup; this cider is a perfect marriage of the two. In the olden-days, cidermakers would add extra sugar to their cider to boost the alcohol content in order to make a more stable drink (with our long, cold winters, who could blame them?), and at one time maple syrup was inexpensive and readily available. They would ferment the cider in barrels, and with the maple flavors, this would add complexity to the cider. We used apple brandy barrels, which add another dimension to the flavors of this cider.
The Oak of the barrel comes through on the nose, but the first sip soon gives way to the brandy and flavors including vanilla and caramel notes, from the barrel, and when swallowed the essence of the maple is left on the palate, along with the tannins from the oak. Less maple flavor than most expect, and not sweet. We didn’t want the Maple to dominate, only be a supporting flavor in this cider.
Monterey Maple goes well with smoked meats and particularly grilled foods.
Sparkling gold clear Off-Dry cider featuring Gold Rush, Stayman, Winesap and Pink Lady. This cider is fermented with local honey, often times referred to as a cyzer, 8.4% abv.
We named this dry cyzer (a cider fermented with honey) after Apis mellifera, the European honey bee. The complex sugars in honey add to Mellifera’s intricacy, leaving a hint of sweetness on the palate even though this cider has the lowest amount of residual sweetness of any of our ciders. This cider is more wine like and complex than many of our other ciders with the hint of honey, earthiness and citrus notes are evident.
It has quickly become the favorite of the cidermaking staff. This cider is only sold in our Monterey tasting room or our online store due to our limited production.
This cider pairs well with poultry, fish, grilled vegetables,mushrooms, and of course just about
Sparkling gold clear semi-dry/medium cider featuring locally grown Gold Rush, Jonagold, Arkansas Black, and Pink Lady apples plus fresh ginger and back-sweetened with local honey. 8.1% abv.
This cider is first fermented and then infused with fresh ginger and slightly back-sweetened with local honey. The distinctive hot notes of ginger are softened by blending with local honey. These natural ingredients are mixed with a dry cider made from local heirloom apples. The result is refreshing, tart, spicy, smooth, and slightly sweet.
This cider pairs well with poultry, fish, grilled vegetables, mushrooms, and of course just about any cheese.
Church Hill Blush:
Sparkling clear rose colored Medium Sweet cider, featuring locally grown heirloom apples and fermented with locally grown raspberries, 7.9% abv.
Other than apples, I know of no other fruit that tops raspberries in the cellars and the hearts of cidermakers. Church Hill Blush is made with raspberries from a local Highland County farm, Church Hill Produce. The color and the aroma are completely natural. This is a bright, festive drink that is poured for celebrations, big and small.
The Raspberry comes through on the nose and at the beginning of the palate, with the sprightly apple flavors coming through to the finish. The sparkling character, the brightness of flavor, the beauty of the color, and the amazing aroma of this cider makes it a favorite for celebrations, weddings, anniversaries, and life’s celebrations.
This cider also can pair well with just about any poultry dish, particularly crispy skin recipes. Also this can pair nicely with fruit salads.
Still, slightly cloudy, amber colored Sweet cider, featuring juice from locally grown apples concentrated over the fire of a maple syrup evaporator, 10.5% abv.
We take freshly squeezed cider and heat it over a fire at a local maple sugar camp to evaporate off excess water. This process concentrates the flavors, the sugars and the apple essences. the result is an intensely flavored cider that will warm you, like the fire that it was crafted with.
With a high residual sugar, this sweet and high alcohol cider pairs perfectly with dessert or can stand alone as an after-dinner treat.
Shady Lane Shandy (only available seasonally):
Sparkling cloudy semi-dry/medium cider featuring local apples and fresh pressed lemonade, 6.1% abv.
Shady Lane Shandy is a perfect summertime cider. This cider made with Jonagold, Stayman and Winesap apples, is first dry hopped with Cascade Hops, then blended with fresh squeezed lemonade (seriously, we squeeze the lemons ourselves in the cider press). Then we filter just enough to keep the seeds and pulp out of the bottle, leaving the natural cloudiness of the lemonade in the cider. Drink it well chilled – the ultimate cider after a day in the sun.
Wassail (only available seasonally):
Still gold naturally cloudy Medium Sweet cider featuring Jonagold, Pink Lady, York, and Stayman apples, 8.5% abv.
From Old Norse “ves heil” literally meaning “be you healthy.” Mulled cider was traditionally drunk as an integral part of wassailing, a medieval English drinking tradition to ensure a good cider apple harvest the following year. Wassail is made with traditional mulling spices, but not so much as to eliminate the apple’s essence and taste. It’s a great wintertime drink.