Story by Michelle Campbell
Photos by Thom Williams
New York has a long (and delicious) history with apples. Crowned the state fruit in 1976, New York lays claim as the second highest producer of America’s favorite fall staple at a whopping 29.5 million bushels annually. So what does one do when surrounded by that much local produce? Local family-owned company Nine Pin Ciderworks turns them into cider.
Established in 2013 by Alejandro del Peral, Nine Pin Ciderworks is located in the warehouse district of Albany on Broadway among other Albany hot spots including Wolff’s Biergarten and Stoudt. The cidery gets its name from the Washington Irving classic, Rip Van Winkle, in which a Catskills man falls into a deep sleep after drinking a cask of hard cider and playing a game of nine-pins (what we call bowling). True to its New York roots, Nine Pin Ciderworks uses New York farm-grown apples as well as other local produce they can incorporate into their craft ciders, supporting local farms and businesses. Whether collaborating with other spirit businesses to create tasty elixirs or foraging for wild fruits and herbs for seasonal ciders in local woods, Nine Pin Ciderworks captures the spirit of the Capital-Saratoga Region.
In just a few short years, Nine Pin has made a tremendous impact on the cider scene and the state’s economic development. In the last year alone, the cidery has secured a collaboration with brew giant Ommegang Brewery in Cooperstown and ramped up production with the addition of seven new 200-barrel fermentation/aging tanks. This summer, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that Nine Pin Ciderworks would be expanding its facilities to meet increased demands for New York state hard cider with a $100,000 grant from the Regional Economic Development Council initiative.
As the state’s first farm cidery and as part of the Governor’s Taste NY initiative—a movement to promote New York agricultural products, food and beverage industries—Nine Pin is creating new jobs for New Yorkers and increasing demand for New York apples, thus creating a cycle of growth for their farm partners. This grant, coupled with their own investment, allows Nine Pin to add over 7,000-square-feet to their facilities. Part of this expansion includes upgrades to their Tasting Room, an on-premise bar area where customers can come try any of Nine Pin’s seven ciders on tap, a couple of them rotating every few weeks.
For established Nine Pin fans and those interested in trying their hard cider, the brand has some new happenings this fall. Hunny Pear, a fall favorite, is back this season in cans as well as bottles, and Blueberry Cobbler will be here just in time for the holidays in corked 750 mL bottles. For those who were looking to explore Nine Pin’s facilities, they hosted their 3rd Annual Pressing Party on Nov. 12. Everything—from the hot paninis served by Sweet Mama Mia to the bench-pressing contest sponsored by North Albany’s Crossfit Beyond Gym—related to the pressing theme.
The main event of the day was the actual pressing of apples to create one monster cider. Not only did attendees get to see how the cidery creates refreshing libations, they could also take part in the process. Using a pressing machine constructed of pallets layered to crush the fruit, attendees were welcome to give the “old-school” cider press a hand. Although Nine Pin utilizes more updated techniques to extract the apple juice in its everyday operations, the traditional press allows visitors to get a sneak peek into the history of cider making.
On Saturday, November 26, they will be offering a special tour of the 17,000 square foot facility. If you want to just go for a visit, their tasting room, featuring many different kinds of cider, is open Wednesday – Friday evenings as well as Saturday and Sunday. Nine Pin cider can be found throughout the region at restaurants, bars and beverage centers, and at the Saratoga Race Course during track season. It can be found on Broadway in Saratoga Springs at Putnam Market. For more information on where Nine Pin is available, or details on visiting their tasting room, go to ninepincider.com.