It had been a long, stressful week and I needed an escape. I didn’t need to book a vacation or anything. I just needed a windows-down cruise through some Iowa backroads. Sunroof open and Neil Young turned up loud, I left Iowa City at noon and headed north on highway 1 with no destination in mind. I got out of town just as Neil sang, “Got fuel to burn, got roads to drive…”
I was through Newport in no time and Solon not long after that, and I realized I was not far from the Sutliff Cider barn my friend had introduced me to last summer. I found the farmstead, just south of Lisbon, and parked in the gravel not far from the barn. I heard a dirty blues guitar playing and saw a band set up outside the barn. My pace quickened.
I stepped around the crowd seated at tables and enjoying the midday sun. I walked into the tasting room. With rows of cider barrels on racks to my left, I stepped to the bar on my right and ordered a hard cider. Served champagne style and fermented in used french oak, the cider is clean and easy with a bit of an oak flavor on the finish. I decided to order some sliders while I was at it. The cider tasted better with each sip. I realized this was something that could be dangerous if treated incorrectly, but glorious if each sip was treated with the slow, Sunday afternoon state of mind I was in.
Sutliff Cider has bragging rights as the only hard apple cider distillery in Iowa. Since 2002, Scott Ervin and his family have been growing and harvesting apples. Once they realized there are only so many pies and dumplings you can use the apples for, they decided to have a go at pressing the apples and fermenting the juice, a tradition as old as the apple itself.
The Ervin family is bringing apples in from neighboring orchards to keep up with demand. They’ve got their hard cider that keeps the crowds coming, and they have their pure cider which is just as the name sounds. Nothing added and nothing taken away, it’s pasteurized but preservatives are never used.
A great place to stop in on a weekend, Sutliff Cider is also a great spot for weddings, receptions, and special events. Consider Sutliff when you’re on the road with nowhere in mind.
Image credit: Sutliff Cider - Flickr