Last week in the Café we had a “Second” and a “First,” with the same beverage at the same time. Due to its popularity on its debut night in the Café, we featured Bantam Wunderkind Cider for the second time. For the first time, co-founders Dana Masterpolo (Co-founder and Head Storyteller) and Michelle da Silva (Co-founder and Head Taster) joined our session to share their story of how they created their very American small business and their very Massachusetts “Modern American Cider.”
With day jobs in insurance and architecture, the co-founders spent about 18 months experimenting with batches of home crafted ciders and enlisting their friends and families as tasters. Insisting on blind tastings, they compared different recipes of their own as well as other ciders on the market.
Their end product is a dry, crisp cider, with a focus on local ingredients and local production. They chose to use a blend of four varieties of apples, each adding a different element to the cider: McIntosh (aroma), Cortland (body), Empire (spice), and Green (tartness). The apples are grown at five farms across Western Massachusetts, and then pressed at Carver Hill Orchard in Stow, Massachusetts. The fermentation and blending process takes place at Westport Rivers Winery in Westport, Massachusetts. Westport Rivers Winery is specially suited to produce cider – which some drinkers consider the middle ground between beer and wine – because these wine makers also operate Buzzards Bay Brewing, a brewery focused on local agriculture and farm fresh ales.
In addition to apples, Bantam incorporates into the mix a sparkling wine yeast and organic flower blossom honey to create a dry, balanced taste and mouthfeel. These characteristics make the cider pair especially well with cheeses and spicy foods, including Indian and Thai dishes. The co-founders also encourage cooking with the cider, particularly in marinades and with pork.
The Bantam Wunderkind Cider will be on tap at the beginning of the Café session this Thursday. Please stop by and give it a try. You can rest assured that it will be tasty, locally sourced in Massachusetts, and quintessentially American.