UNCORKED

ANDY BREN­NAN, CIDER EVAN­GE­LIST

Seabourn Club Herald - - IN THIS ISSUE - By Rowan Ja­cob­sen

The artist be­hind Aaron Burr Cider cel­e­brates an un­cul­ti­vated cul­ture.

If there is one per­son who would be named spir­i­tual leader of the Feral Cider So­ci­ety (if we ever got that for­mal) it would be Andy Bren­nan of Aaron Burr Cider in up­state New York. A fine artist by trade, Bren­nan found him­self in 2008 liv­ing in the New York coun­try­side sur­rounded by “un­cul­ti­vated” ap­ples, as he calls them — aban­doned orchards, feral seedlings, gnarled methuse­lahs near old cel­lar holes. Bren­nan was in­spired to plant an or­chard and make cider, but when he showed his soil maps to ex­perts at Cor­nell Univer­sity, they told him it was hope­less — ap­ples would never thrive in such rocky, in­hos­pitable ter­rain. But Bren­nan looked at the an­cient trees grow­ing all around him and de­cided they knew more than the ex­perts.

Eight years later, work­ing en­tirely with feral fruit, Bren­nan has be­come one of the most cel­e­brated cider mak­ers in Amer­ica. Elite Man­hat­tan restau­rants such as Eleven Madi­son Park, Per Se and Gramercy Tav­ern com­pete to carry bot­tles of Aaron Burr Cider, which are al­ways in short sup­ply be­cause Bren­nan has no way of scal­ing up — he can only work with what the wild trees pro­vide each fall. He be­lieves that when ap­ple trees are not ba­bied with chem­i­cal fer­til­iz­ers and pes­ti­cides, or with overly easy grow­ing con­di­tions, they find ways of cop­ing with their en­vi­ron­ment that give their fruit more com­plex, tran­scen­dent fla­vors. And he must be right be­cause a glass of Aaron Burr Cider is filled with funky, flo­ral, woodsy notes un­like any­thing found in con­ven­tional cider.

“Cider of­fers com­pan­ion­ship and won­der,” Bren­nan says. “Truly fine cider is a col­lab­o­ra­tion with the life cycle of ap­ples and their juice. We ex­pe­ri­ence the grow­ing sea­son to­gether and we en­ter the dor­mancy of win­ter to­gether with the yeasts. A good cider maker is a shep­herd.”

You can learn all about Bren­nan’s flock at AaronBur­rCider.com.

Polly, Andy Bren­nan and Bertha (the ap­ple tree)

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