With the vast number of wineries and breweries dotting the Eastern Seaboard, it is no wonder that purveyors of alcohol are looking to branch out into other markets. Enter hard cider (or just “cider,” if you live outside the US). This fermented drink–most commonly made from apples–is gaining popularity stateside, and one of the best places to sample it is a small cidery in Monkton, Maryland.
MillStone Cellars has been producing the drink since 2011. Using Old World techniques, heirloom apples are fermented in used barrels–repurposed from the wine and spirit industries–and then blended to create unique combinations of aromas and flavors.
Like wine, this cider changes as it ages and also varies from year to year. But, like craftbrewers, the folks at MillStone are constantly experimenting with their product. They make both cider and mead of all possible combinations–when I visit, they are attempting to blend kombucha with fermented honey.
Those unfamiliar with hard cider should note that this is not like the sweet stuff you can buy by the jug at the grocery store. This cider is acidic, tart, and decidedly adult. It is also surprisingly complex–Spicebush, a mead made with blueberry honey and the titular bush’s berry, tastes strongly of black pepper and finishes with a soft, nutty flavor.
Perhaps just as interesting as the cider and mead is the location itself, an 18th-century mill that is available for tours.
The mill’s character is enchanting, and staff seem just as passionate about the old building as they are about the drinks it helps produce.
MillStone is an inventive place that feels at once both Old Word and New Age. It’s perfect for those looking to expand their palate, soak up some local history, or simply waste away a Saturday in the most delicious manner possible.
But, a quick word of caution–the only bathroom is in the dilapidated-looking farmhouse next door.
If You Go
MillStone Cellars’ old farmhouse and tasting room is at 2029 Monkton Road in Monkton, Maryland. They are open on weekends, Saturdays from 12-6 and Sundays 12-5. Shockingly, both tastings and tours are free–visit early on a Sunday to beat the crowd.
Vegans should note that, while the majority of MillStone’s offerings contain honey, a few are completely free of all animal products. There is also some tasty raw vegan chocolate available for sale–I can personally vouch for the orange-infused raspberry and brazilnut flavor!