McKenzie's Hard Cider

Spooky Good Beer

Friday, October 30, 2015 | Evolution, Long Trail, McKenzie's Hard Cider, New Belgium, Rogue, Victory


Halloween is tomorrow, and we’re here to help with a few last minute party and costume ideas to make sure the night goes spookily–err, smoothly.

Beers to Try:

Magic Hat Night of the Living Dead Variety Pack – Today is Magic Hat’s 21st birthday, so you should give them a little love. This festive case includes #9 Not Quite Pale Ale, Magic Hat Ale (their first beer ever brewed), Wilhelm Scream and Miss Bliss.
Victory Storm King Stout – This blackest of black beer starts with a huge hop aroma and continues with a rich, deep chocolate malt flavor. And at 9.2% ABV, it’ll warm your night.
Evolution Jacques Au Lantern – Halloween wouldn’t be right without a pumpkin ale, and Evolution provides a perfect example of the style.
New Belgium Pumpkick – Another pumpkin ale, but with a kick of cranberry tartness to shake things up. Available locally for the first time, so be sure to give it a try.
Long Trail Limbo – Citrus and resiny pine hoppiness lies inside this IPA, and a beautiful red-black-white label features a skeleton just in theme with Halloween.
Rogue Dead Guy Ale – This notorious brew is always great for Halloween due to its drinkability, appropriate name and popularity.

Party Ideas:

Costume and Pumpkin-Carving Contest Prizes: If you’re having a larger party, it’s always nice to have a few activities planned; either a costume contest or a jack-o-lantern carving contest (or both) are fun ideas to keep people engaged. And if you’re going to have a contest, you’re also going to need prizes. It’s best to separate these contests into kids and adults categories, to check for skill as well as so you can cater the prizes to the age range. For the kids, a bag of dried apples, spooky stickers, maple candies, a coloring book and a ribbon would make a nice prize basket. For the adults, make your own variety six-pack with the seasonal favorites we listed above.

Ghostly Beer Giveaway: Create cheesecloth ghosts of appropriate height and opacity, and once dry, set the ghosts over several bottles or cans of different types of beer. Make sure the cloth hides the label well enough that the beer cannot be deciphered. When guests arrive, have them choose a ghost-beer combo. They can drink the beer at the party and take the ghost home as a souvenir. For smaller parties, this works particularly well with larger bottles, like Victory’s V-Twelve. For larger parties, a 12 oz bottle variety pack can be used, like Magic Hat’s Night of the Living Dead.

Cider Cocktails – Instead of serving just straight cider, try your hand at making cider cocktails. This recipe has the benefit of being blood-red, but there are a number of delicious hard cider cocktail recipes out there, and you can use your favorite cider (we suggest McKenzie’s, Bold Rock or Johnny Appleseed) in the mix.

Costume Ideas:

Dead Guy – The namesake of one of Rogue’s top ales actually makes a pretty simple costume. Most costume stores will carry a skeleton suit of some sort. They will also probably have some sort of helmet/hat that is similar to the one on the label–gold or bronze is the color you’re looking for, particularly one that is tall. You can easily add length to a helmet by getting one that sits on top of, not around, your head. If you have trouble finding a suitable helmet, use the dome template on this page, and try making the bottom wider to lengthen the helmet. While you’re at the costume store, pick up some black and white face paint, and follow this guide to make your face into a skull. Carry a plastic beer mug around and voila. Bonus points for anyone with a barrel to sit on while they hand out candy.

Hop Flower – If you’ve got a little time, and a knack for a bit of sewing, a hop flower is a pretty straight-forward. First, you need a green beanie, shirt/dress and pants/leggings/tights. Second, you need a couple yards of light green material, and lastly a single sheet of green felt. The petals are roughly diamond in shape, with rounded sides, a pointy bottom tip and a flat top. Here is a basic outline. Measurements should be roughly 5 inches wide at the widest point, and 7 inches long. A little variance is okay, and petals near the top of the costume should be slightly smaller. How many you need will vary. To keep track, you can start pinning the petals onto your shirt or dress in rows as you cut then out. The petals in each row will touch, but not overlap too much. Rows should be roughly 3 inches apart, overlapping some with the lower row underneath the upper. Be sure to stagger the petals, like so. Cover the entire shirt or dress, and allow some petals to hang past the hem. It might be easiest to start from the bottom, and sew each row as you work your way up. For the hat, make a few small petals, sew then in a ring around about the middle of the beanie, and then sew on a green felt stem.

Beer Knight – A fun, cheap and relatively easy costume is waiting right next to your recycling; use your favorite old beer case boxes to create armor for yourself, including helmet, shield and breastplate. With a little ingenuity and a lot of clear packing tape, you can make a costume that will have people pointing you out at every party.

A Brief History of Cider

Thursday, October 2, 2014 | Bold Rock Cider, Cider, Johnny Appleseed, McKenzie's Hard Cider, Stella Artois, Uncategorized


We’re right in the middle of apple season, so let’s take a minute to talk about a very important fruit and beverage in the history of civilization and particularly our country.

Wild apples have been around for up to 65 million years, appearing around the same time as primitive primates. The modern varieties originated in central Asia, where you can still find domesticated apple’s (Malus domestica) sole ancestor, Malus sieversii. Apple trees, a relative of the rose, have an incredibly complex genome (57,000 genes, as compared to our own 30,000), meaning that a seed planted may produce wildly different apples than those of the tree that begat it. Still, it was for this highly variable fruit that apple trees were one of the first trees to be cultivated by man. They have long held importance in a number of religions, mythologies and stories around the world, being a symbol of anything from forbidden knowledge to fertility. Being an autumn fruit with some varieties that can be kept over-winter in sub-freezing conditions, the apple is one of the most important fruits in Asia and Europe for millennia.

Where exactly cider was first created is up for debate, but we’ve managed to narrow it down to southern England, France and Spain, where cider was being enjoyed by the time the Romans invaded. The oldest orchards, which were made up of planted seeds rather than grafted cuttings, often held such an array of apples that some of them proved to be too bitter for eating. These were the apples that were chosen for the production of cider. Eventually, these varieties were reproduced through the science of grafting, gaining names and known properties in the areas of acidity, tannins, sweetness and aromatics. Many of the most popular cider-making apples originated in Normandy.

When colonists spread through the new world, cider took on a new importance. It was difficult to produce the crops needed for the production of beer in New England, but European apple trees did very well in the climate. Seeds were planted, then wood grafted to create the best cider-making apples, and eventually it became the drink of choice of early American settlers. Because of the dangers of drinking water, everyone drank cider, including children, who got a less-alcoholic version of the beverage.

John Chapman, better known by the moniker Johnny Appleseed, did his part in the spread of apples throughout Pennsylvania, Ohio, Indiana and Illinois. Rather than grafting to create orchards, Chapman seeded nurseries as he went, which lead to many uniquely American varieties of apples, of which the tartest were used to make cider. During the settlement of the Midwest, there were periods when it was required by law to have apple or pear orchards on land in order to hold right to it, because the need for cider was so great. This made land seeded by Chapman high in demand.

The decline of cider only came in the early 1900s, when an influx of German and Eastern European immigrants arrived with a taste for beer over cider. By this time, the land in the Midwest, where barley could be grown easily, had been settled, and refrigerating technologies were improving, making way for a budding beer industry that thrives today.

During prohibition, cideries might have made it through better than their beer and liquor-making counterparts, except that not only was their hard cider production brought to a halt, but producing sweet (non-alcoholic) cider was limited to 200 gallons a year. Prohibitionists took it so far as to burn hundreds of orchards of cider trees, leaving only sweet, eating apple trees in their wake. After the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, breweries could go back to brewing relatively quickly simply by importing grains and waiting for the next year for their barley to grow. However, it takes decades for a tree to begin producing apples, and by that time, Americans had lost their taste for the drink in favor of beer.

This did not spell the end for cider entirely, though. Since cheap apples are often imported from all around, orchards have begun looking at other ways to stay profitable, including the production of cider. And thus is the resurrection of cider in America. Today, there are a growing number of cideries within the United States, and demand for foreign ciders is also on the rise. A few examples of this new wave of ciders are listed below.

McKenzie’s Hard Cider – Their Original cider is sweeter with a bigger body than ciders of old for a bold apple flavor, but their Green Apple variety has a tart kick to it. They also have a spiced Seasonal Reserve variety perfect for autumn. Additionally, they have Black Cherry, a step away from traditional ciders.

Bold Rock – Their flagship Virginia Draft is brightly flavored and crisp, while their Virginia Apple variety has more of a bite.

Stella Cidre- For an Old World style cider that has a burst of fruity flavors, try Stella Artois’ cidre (no, that is not a typo; it’s pronounced see-druh).

Johnny Appleseed Cider – Named for Mr. Chapman, this cider does not disappoint. Sweet and fizzy, it’s greatly drinkable.

McKenzie’s Black Cherry

Thursday, October 2, 2014 | McKenzie's Hard Cider


McKenzie’s has turned cider on its head by adding bold black cherry taste over an apple base. Daringly tart over sweet, this pale cider is packed full of flavor and well-bodied. If you’re looking for a cider that’s doing things a little differently, this will certainly not leave you wanting for rich flavor and a juicy, lip-smacking finish. 5% ABV

Canning Independence

Friday, June 27, 2014 | Boxcar, Cans, Finch's, Long Trail, McKenzie's Hard Cider, Rogue


If you’ve got any sort of plans for this coming 4th of July, they are more than likely going to include some sort of outdoor festivities, whether that be going to watch a fireworks show, barbecuing in the backyard, joining the neighborhood block party or simply enjoying an afternoon at the beach. So if you’re looking for a beverage to partner with your celebration and appreciation of this great country, go big with one of these canned brews.

Rogue’s American Amber Ale has been a favorite for a few years now, but now it’s available in 16oz cans, so you can take it on the road. Nut-and-fruit, toasted malts, and caramel heavily flavor the first taste, then cut and balanced by herbal hops for a crisper finish. 5.6% ABV

Go a little further back to when Europeans first discovered the new world, and you’ve got Boxcar Brewing’s 1492 American Pale Ale. Brewed with Columbus hops, pine and citrus notes complement pilsner/caramel malts to create a uniquely sweet pale ale. 6.5% ABV

Long Trail’s Traditional IPA is perfect for the hop-head at your celebration. Though it starts malty, pine hops quickly cut through and fill the flavor with a sharp crispness, gathering grapefruit notes as it goes. 5.9% ABV

Even if you aren’t planning on going to the beach, you shouldn’t forget to take Kona’s Longboard Island Lager. Crisp with carbonation, the rich bready start is followed up by a noble bitterness, making for a great session brew. 4.6% ABV

Maybe you’re more in the mood for a cider than a beer. McKenzie’s Original Hard Cider‘s brisk apple flavor is just dry enough for a summer evening while still maintaining the fruit’s natural sweetness. 6% ABV

And let’s remember our men and women in the U.S. military this holiday. Purchase a case of America’s favorite Budweiser in its red, white and blue cans, and $1 goes to Folds of Honor, an organization that helps the spouses and dependents of wounded or fallen soldiers with education costs through scholarships. So give back to those who gave so much to defend our country, and help everyone enjoy this day of remembrance.

Autumn: A Time for Cider

Thursday, September 26, 2013 | Fall, McKenzie's Hard Cider, Uncategorized


This past Sunday marked the official coming of autumn. Everyone has a favorite fall beverage, be it an Oktoberfestbier, pumpkin ale, or harvest ale. But beer’s not where the autumn festivities end; ciders are a fun way to break up the monotony with something sweet and crisp–like McKenzie’s Hard Ciders

Find McKenzies by the Case or Draft

Cider has a long tradition in America, starting with the colonial period when the term referred specifically to fermented apple juice. It was typically cheaper to ferment apples than to make wine or beer, and it was certainly safer than drinking the water. Cider took a hit during prohibition, though, and had a bit of a lull in the last century. It’s making a comeback, though, with more and more varieties of cider lining the shelves, and more people searching for it, especially in the season of the apple harvest.

If you’re looking for a new cider to try this fall, look no further than McKenzie’s Hard Cider, founded in 2011 in Buffalo, New York. Now hand-pressed in West Seneca, this brand was started by Lenny Ciolek, who helped make Mike’s Hard Lemonade popular. It’s new to this area, so it’s sure to be something novel to your usual autumnal rounds.

They currently have five varieties of cider. Original is a sweet and tart apple cider with a crisp finish and apple juice smell. Black Cherry is rich, sugary beverage with a full body and a sweet finish. Green Apple is much tarter than the original, with a refreshing flavor and some kick. Lazy Lemon is their spring/summer lemon cider.

Right now, though, they’re offering their Seasonal Reserve, a nutmeg and cinnamon-spiced apple cider, using a 160-year-old formula. It has a strong, spicy apple pie aroma, moving into a smooth flavor that is quite refreshing and not too sweet. At 5% ABV, you’ll have no trouble drinking more than one.

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