Thursday, August 14, 2014

Scrumptious Ciders at Millstone Cellars

On Saturday a small group of us went for a visit to Monkton, MD to check out Millstone Cellars, a company that makes their own cider. I'm not a huge lover of ciders, I usually end up with a headache but after looking at their website and being very intrigued with the names I was looking forward to it.
The building sat alone and had once been a grist mill. The water wheel has long gone but the building itself has been lovingly restored and is the perfect home now for plenty of barrels, kegs and bottles brimming with ciders, meads and experimental concoctions.
We were taken on a tour and I was impressed with the care taken over the cider preparation. Everything was spotlessly clean and all containers well labeled. Some of the ciders on the website weren't available today but we could see that there would be more in the future. I particularly liked the look of the Bonfire cider. Wouldn't mind getting a bottle of that in DC on my next visit. They don't ship their products but there are stores in DC and Maryland that sell them, but none in Virginia unfortunately.
Lots of little experiments were evident about the floors, some of which were calling my name, especially the lemon grass, second from the left.
We were shown the bar area where hand carved tables filled an open floor, and a deck held another table in the process of being made. It was very welcoming and I was licking my lips in anticipation of our tasting. Elizabeth and Richard above pretending that they could lift this cast iron piano part. I think Richard actually did try...
And then we went downstairs to begin business. Our hostess was very friendly and especially accommodating when she told us that because we were a 'special group' she was going to let us taste all the ciders, apparently not the treatment that everyone gets. We were most pleased and pulled our stools up close to the bar, hanging on to her every word. We tasted Farmgate, a very applely cider, Hopvine, which had an IPA kind of taste and Rhuberry, a combination of strawberries and rhubarb with apples which was a sweeter cider. Then the Gingeroot, a firm favorite with me, and Spruced, aged on spruce boughs, with an interesting flavor. Springhouse, which according to Elizabeth, tasted of fancy bath soap, but I loved its flowery flavor with a hint of lavender. And then lastly we tried Thistle, a mead fermented with belgian ale yeast. I was sure I'd love this one but although nice it wasn't at the top of my list. Some of us knew right away which bottles we'd want to take home but others wanted to think about it, so it was a perfect excuse to go back up to the bar and have a glass or two while we sat and pondered on what our purchases would be.
My glass of Farmgate, looking very enticing bathed in sunlight.
We had a grand ole time as we sat at one of the tables but when we needed a refill nobody heard the bell we rang so we poured ourselves another glass. Another couple came upstairs so Richard kindly poured them a glass each too. After a while hunger was getting the better of us so we decided to go into the village to a place we'd spotted on the way here. Millstone doesn't offer food but does have some tasty snacks for sale and they are more than happy for folks to bring in their own picnic to eat while drinking their ciders.
Elizabeth wrote some words for Richard on the blackboard in the corner.
We went downstairs and paid for our additional drinks and settled up bills for our bottles. Between us we spent over $500! I loved the different colored waxes used to seal in the precious liquids. Millstone also offers refunds on their bottles.
 After loading up the cars we drove down the road to the Monkton Grille, a small cafe which seemed popular. And the reason became obvious. I had the best grilled cheese sandwich ever with apple slices, melted brie and bacon smoked by the cafe themselves. It was delectably tasty.
The cafe has also just opened an ice cream so we felt obliged to try that also. I had a superb concoction of chocolate and peanut butter ice creams with hot fudge sauce topped with nutter butters. I had no idea what these were, I just liked the name but there were a lovely added crunch to my desert.
At Millstone Cellars I had originally intended to buy some Stilton cheese and French bread on the way home to munch on the patio with a bottle of my cider. Alone, with no guests invited that I would have to share with. But after our huge lunch I realized that wasn't going to happen so I had to regretfully stash my bottles up on the shelf when I got home and wait for another day. It will come soon, I know it!

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