Frank Carlson’s family started making cider in 1975, on a Harvard, Mass., farm founded by his parents 40 years earlier, when cows and chickens had views of apple and peach trees as they munched and pecked.
“The cows were the first to go,” says Carlson, citing his family’s desire to increase the size of the orchard. “We don’t make many decisions right here, but that was one.”
If you’ve shopped in any grocery store in Eastern Massachusetts in the last few years, you probably know Carlson Orchards’ cider, made from McIntosh apples and flush with the familiar, fruit-forward flavor we associate with cider from New England farm stands.
About five years ago, Carlson (who runs the orchard with his two brothers) made the decision to outsource the cider making so he could focus on the trees. That choice has led to another: a line of alcoholic cider, made under the Carlson name with the help of Shannon Edgar, who runs Stormalong Cider in Leominster.
Oak Hill Blend is fizzy and a little sweeter than dry, owing to its McIntosh-base. It’s unfiltered and pours a little cloudy from the can.
“With all the hazy stuff we make in New England now, we thought it fit,” says the cider-maker Edgar. “It’s not overly sweet. The unfilternedess gives it a unique mouthfeel. It’s fresh juice.”
The Carlsons recently planted 10 acres of cider apple varieties to expand the lineup in the future. A farm tasting room is in the works.Gary Dzen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.