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Arkansas’ first cidery, which we featured here in 2015, took home three prizes at the 2020 Cidercraft awards. Black Apple Hard Cider, based in Springdale, staked its claim in a field (orchard?) of more than 450 submissions from around the world. Black Apple’s Hibiscus, Wild Berry, and Spiced ciders all earned awards in the fourth annual international competition.
“We are still a young cidery, and we are experimenting with novel, clean ways of making cider,” said Leo Orpin, co-founder of Black Apple, referring to their commitment to creating a “clean” cider with no preservatives or sulfites.
“We’ve tried to do something unique at Black Apple, it’s been a joy to see it so welcomed here in Arkansas and appreciated around the country.”
Black Apple’s Hibiscus variety, a semi-dry cider infused with hibiscus, took home the Double Gold award in the Botanical category. It’s a favorite among my cider-drinking friends, so it’s no surprise that its crisp citrus and berry taste and appealing floral aromas stood out to judges as well. As one of Black Apple’s flagship ciders, Hibiscus can be found year-round at locations around the state.
As the Double Gold winner in the Fruit category, Wild Berry showed out as a new release for 2020. It features a heavier body than the light-on-the-palate Hibiscus, with crisp apples blended with black currant, elderberry, mulberry, and raspberry. I’ve been keeping this one restocked in my fridge while it’s in season.
Black Apple’s Spiced cider has become a holiday favorite across Arkansas. As a Gold award winner in the Spiced category, it’s sure to find even more fans now. Another seasonal release, Spiced tastes as you might expect, incorporating the warming essence of cinnamon, clove and rose petals with notes of citrus and orange zest. Some have called it the perfect winter drink. Or, I’d suggest, the perfect winter drink that doesn’t involve marshmallows.
Five years after opening in downtown Springdale, Black Apple manufactures and serves more than fourteen varieties of hard cider in their taproom on Emma Avenue. The cider has been available statewide in bars and restaurants since 2019 and in cans statewide since spring 2020.
According to Orpin, Black Apple will bring seasonal favorites such as Blueberry and Strawberry back in the coming months, as well as some new seasonal offerings like Raspberry Passion. They also plan to launch into locations in Northeast Oklahoma this spring.
Black Apple Hard Cider co-founders, Leo Orpin and Trey Holt, outside the taproom in downtown Springdale.
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