Participating in the first-ever Pennsylvania Farm Show Cider Competition, Frecon’s Cidery Inc. took first place in the Wood Aged category for its “Hogshead” blend and third place in the Sour category for its “Farmhouse Sour.”
“The Hogshead is actually my personal favorite hard cider that we make,” said Josh Smith of Frecon Farms. “In my opinion, it has the most character. It’s a blend of Stayman Winesap apples that we grow and crab apples that we grow — so it’s 100 percent from our orchard. It’s one of the only ones we age on Oak. It’s got great body and great character. We’re pretty happy that we won the blue ribbon for that one.”
In regards to the Sour category third place winner, Smith said the Farmhouse Sour is one of the two-year products the cidery makes. It must be aged for two years before it is bottled.
The cidery entered a few blends into the competition. Smith said they were unable to enter their best seller — Crabby Granny — because they were sold out of it at the time of the contest entry, but there’s always next year.
“This is the first year that the farm show shed a spotlight on Pennsylvania cider,” said Smith, noting how Pennsylvania is one of the top producers of apples in the country. “It just makes sense to integrate those products in with the largest agriculture in Pennsylvania.”
Pennsylvania ranks sixth in the nation in the number of cider producers, and saw $25.6 million in sales in 2016, according to a press release for the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Consumption in restaurants, in particular, grew throughout 2017. Sales and production received a significant boost from legislation Gov. Tom Wolf signed last year, which provides new avenues for public sector support of Pennsylvania’s wine, craft beer and distillery industries.
“Pennsylvania apples are a staple of our state’s economy, and the popularity of hard cider has surged in recent years,” said Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding, “We now have 43 cideries statewide, up from 15 just two years ago, with existing producers expanding their product lines, and new businesses taking advantage of Pennsylvania’s abundant apple orchards to launch new production.”
The Pennsylvania Farm Show Cider Competition was held Nov. 30 at the PA Farm Show Complex and Expo Center. There were 26 entries from licensed Pennsylvania cideries competing against one another. Prizes were awarded in seven categories: Modern Cider, Heritage Cider, Sour Cider, Fruit Cider, Hopped Cider, Spiced Cider and Wood Aged Cider.
Winning entries were announced in a ceremony Jan. 6, during the 2018 Pennsylvania Farm Show.