While cycling through Southern England with his wife, Massachusetts microbrewer brewer Dan Young became smitten with the country’s scrumpy.  When his wife, Nikki, landed a job in Leelanau County, Dan launched Tandem Ciders in 2008 amidst the rolling orchards of Northern Michigan.  MyNorth’s Tim Tebeau caught up with Dan to shed some light on the art of cider.  This Q&A was first featured in the April 2014 issue of Traverse, Northern Michigan’s Magazine.

What style of cider do you see evolving in Michigan?

I think every year we get closer to defining a distinct Michigan style. We don’t have access to the more tannic European cider apples so our ciders tend to be a little sweeter and more focused on the flavors of the fruit.

What does barrel aging do to cider?

Cider is more subtle than wine and really picks up oak fast, so you have to be careful not to overpower the fruit. We use new American oak barrels for draught cider, but I prefer the flavors that come out of three-year-old barrels for our more complex bottled ciders.

What’s an ideal food pairing for an off-dry hard cider?

They work really well with spicy foods like Mexican or Indian. The temperature and sweetness temper the heat. In northern France the classic pairing is hard cider with savory crêpes.

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Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski