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If the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is true, then the people who attended the Cider Dayze fest in Armada can look forward to many, many days of good health and no doctors’ bills.

Hosted by Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill, Cider Dayze was the first of its kind in southeast Michigan. Andrew Blake of Blake Farms said that his orchard was thrilled to host the event.

“We wanted to have a cider supportive event at our facility, and this was the perfect opportunity because we could also help out charities,” he said. All proceeds will go to local, Michigan-based charities.

“We have a great lineup of local cideries and breweries,” Blake continued. “We wanted to bring everyone together for kind of a bonding weekend and to get people excited about cider. This event allows to showcase most of the (cider) producers in Michigan.”

The list of participating vendors was impressive, and it included Blake’s Hard Cider Company, Uncle John’s Hard Cider, Vander Mill, Tandem Ciders, Sage Creek Winery, and Farmhaus Cider Company. Breweries were also represented by Perrin Brewing Company, and Roak Brewing Company.

Some of the standouts included:

  • Blake’s Apple Lantern: Made with roasted pumpkin and molasses, this beer reminded me of apple and pumpkin pie with a layer of alcohol
  • Fieldstone’s Ginger Peach Apple: This cider was perfectly balanced. Ginger sometimes overwhelms, but it mixed perfectly with the tart apple and sweet peach flavors
  • Short’s Brewing Company brought along several offerings from Starcut Ciders, including Erraticus, which was brewed with wild yeast. Attendee Ken Anderson said, “(The yeast) gave this dry, tasty beer a wonderful touch of sour that only wild yeast can give.”
  • Sage Creek’s Winery offered several different kinds of wine, including its Pomegranate Wildberry. A dark red, this wine was sweet enough to please a choosy sweet tooth like myself
  • New Holland’s Ichabod: For my first “fall” beer, this was perfect as usual: pumpkin spiced but not overwhelming and a perfect match to the ciders that I had

In addition to the beverages, the event featured talks given by Andrew Blake and other experts in the field.

“We wanted to show people different cider profiles that you can get from cider and also how to make it,” said Blake.

Cider Dayze also included an outstanding selection of food from local vendors. The hosting orchard had gourmet hot dogs, and attendees could also get eats from Mulefoot Gastropub and Bad Brad’s BBQ.

But the cider was the star of the show. Luckily, the forecast for scrumptious apple cider is good. Blake reported that for southeast Michigan, “the apple crop has been very good this year.” While some orchards in northern Michigan had some winter damage, his orchard “has a very nice crop this year.”

The rain could not dampen enthusiasm or attendance, as crowds swelled as the event went on and more and more people enjoyed the wide variety of fermented beverages.

“This is the perfect way to get producers together in one place and to kick off the fall right!” Blake said.

If the saying “an apple a day keeps the doctor away” is true, then the people who attended the Cider Dayze fest in Armada can look forward to many, many days of good health and no doctors’ bills.
Hosted by Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill, Cider Dayze was the first of its kind in southeast Michigan. Andrew Blake of Blake Farms said that his orchard was thrilled to host the event.
“We wanted to have a cider supportive event at our facility, and this was the perfect opportunity because we could also help out charities,” he said. All proceeds will go to local, Michigan-based charities.
“We have a great lineup of local cideries and breweries,” Blake continued. “We wanted to bring everyone together for kind of a bonding weekend and to get people excited about cider. This event allows to showcase most of the (cider) producers in Michigan.”
The list of participating vendors was impressive, and it included Blake’s Hard Cider Company, Uncle John’s Hard Cider, Vander Mill, Tandem Ciders, Sage Creek Winery, and Farmhaus Cider Company. Breweries were also represented by Perrin Brewing Company, and Roak Brewing Company.
Some of the standouts included:

  • Blake’s Apple Lantern: Made with roasted pumpkin and molasses, this beer reminded me of apple and pumpkin pie with a layer of alcohol
  • Fieldstone’s Ginger Peach Apple: This cider was perfectly balanced. Ginger sometimes overwhelms, but it mixed perfectly with the tart apple and sweet peach flavors
  • Short’s Brewing Company brought along several offerings from Starcut Ciders, including Erraticus, which was brewed with wild yeast. Attendee Ken Anderson said, “(The yeast) gave this dry, tasty beer a wonderful touch of sour that only wild yeast can give.”
  • Sage Creek’s Winery offered several different kinds of wine, including its Pomegranate Wildberry. A dark red, this wine was sweet enough to please a choosy sweet tooth like myself
  • New Holland’s Ichabod: For my first “fall” beer, this was perfect as usual: pumpkin spiced but not overwhelming and a perfect match to the ciders that I had

In addition to the beverages, the event featured talks given by Andrew Blake and other experts in the field.
“We wanted to show people different cider profiles that you can get from cider and also how to make it,” said Blake.
Cider Dayze also included an outstanding selection of food from local vendors. The hosting orchard had gourmet hot dogs, and attendees could also get eats from Mulefoot Gastropub and Bad Brad’s BBQ.
But the cider was the star of the show. Luckily, the forecast for scrumptious apple cider is good. Blake reported that for southeast Michigan, “the apple crop has been very good this year.” While some orchards in northern Michigan had some winter damage, his orchard “has a very nice crop this year.”
The rain could not dampen enthusiasm or attendance, as crowds swelled as the event went on and more and more people enjoyed the wide variety of fermented beverages.
“This is the perfect way to get producers together in one place and to kick off the fall right!” Blake said.

SPRING LAKE TOWNSHIP — With an expanded brewery and winery lineup plus more food options, VanderFest returns to West Michigan this Saturday.

The third annual event combines the best of cider to go along with specially-brewed Michigan beers infused with Vander Mill’s sweet apple cider. Although the event comes during the busiest season for cider, for the same reason the timing couldn’t be better for the Lakeshore cider mill and winery.

“It’s our season,” said Paul Vander Heide, owner of Vander Mill. “If we’re going to showcase hard ciders and collaboration beers, there’s no better time than the fall.”

Represented during the festival, which runs 4-10 p.m. at Vander Mill, 14921 Cleveland St. in Spring Lake, are:

Wineries – Ciders

  • Vander Mill
  • Northville Winery
  • Blackstar Farms
  • Uncle John’s
  • Northern Natural
  • Robinettes
  • Virtue Ciders
  • Sietsema Orchards

Breweries – Specialty Beers

  • Founders
  • New Holland
  • Arcadia
  • Greenbush
  • Old Boys
  • Oddside Ales
  • Brewery Vivant
  • Hopcat
  • Jamesport Brewing Company
  • Michigan Beer Cellar

“We’re excited about about our collaboration with new participants Founders, Arcadia and Greenbush this year,” Vander Heide said. “We have up-sized everything else — music, sound, stage.”

Founders added cider to its Pale Ale for the event, spicing it with all-spice berries fermented in two firkins. All beers use Vander Mill’s sweet cider uniquely crafted by each brewery. Vander Heide would only share the name of the Greenbush brew — VanderBush — perhaps a clue. Meanwhile, New Holland will feature two different Wit-style beers fermented in cider while Odd Side Ales takes a wheat approach.

VanderFest marks the debut of Vander Mill’s new food menu, under the direction of chef Stephanie Luke. The fall-friendly menu has four specialty macaroni and cheeses, pizza, salad and soups. All food sales are cash, including four additional vendors — Public Zeeland, Saburba, Standard Pizza Co. and What the Truck. Per tradition, free freshly baked donuts are likely to make their annual appearance.

“There might be a showing of donuts at some point in the evening,” Vander Heide said.

As for entertainment, Organisssimo and Social Bones headline the live music for the afternoon and evening. As is custom, VanderFest will also include a laser light show.

Tickets — selling online and on location at Vander Mill, Oddside Ales, Public Zeeland, Siciliano’s Market and The Winchester — are $25 in advance and $30 at the door. Admission includes a printed 12-ounce festival glass with five cider/beer sample tokens with additional tokens $1 each. One token gives patrons a 6-ounce pour of beer or cider.

Proceeds from VanderFest benefit the Holland Chapter of Ambucs, an organization that creates mobility and independence for the disabled.

“This is not intended to be a money-maker for us,” Vander Heide said. “There is a local charity receiving the benefits of the money brought in.”

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