Forgotten Ciders

The Ward family is turning apples into dollars with its new business

The Ward family is jumping on the growing business trend of making hard cider. Forgotten Ciders (1068 W Midland-Gratiot County Line Rd, Wheeler) opened the doors of its hard cider mill in a little red barn in February. Each batch is made using between 20 and 150 different varieties of 100 percent freshly picked and pressed apples. Every finished cider comes with a name as unique as the taste—Windmill Watcher is in honor of the windmill field across the street, and Private Stash is the family favorite.

Family roots

It’s funny how new businesses take root. A case in point is the start of Forgotten Ciders, going back 25 years to when Cindy Ward’s father and uncle, Douglas and Jon Eastman, planted more than 1,000 varieties of heirloom and modern apple trees on 16 acres of land that had been in the family for more than 100 years. The members of the Ward family tried to outdo one another in a family competition, making hard cider from the apples growing on the farm.

It was eight years ago when Cindy, her husband, Tim, and her sons, Rafe and Casey, bought those 16 acres and set about restoring the orchard, trimming trees, and doing general clean-up to begin selling under the name Eastman’s Antique Apples. “The trees planted by my grandfather and uncle were for making hard cider,” says Rafe Ward. “There are some varieties here notorious for hard cider.”

Branching out

Selling their wares at the Midland Farmers Market, people were lining up to purchase those notorious apples. “Our apples are so unique, everyone wants to buy them,” says Cindy Ward.

Because the family was already dabbling in hard cider, they got to work and began exploring the hard cider business. Rafe Ward explains, “Hard cider used to be the American drink before Prohibition. It’s one of the fastest growing industries, coming in No. 2 behind IPAs.”

Two years ago, the Wards broke ground on that little red barn and began making hard cider. The barn is open to the public from 1 – 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and guests have the choice of sitting at tables and chairs, bellying up to the bar, or strolling among the apple trees.

Pints run between $5 and $8, with bottles selling for $10 to $16. A flight of four samples, served on the family’s custom flight board, is $6, with a side of tortilla chips accompanied by a spicy cheese dip and salsa for an extra $5. Bottled water and pop are also available for $1.

From the tree to the glass

Behind the scenes is where the apple action takes place in gleaming stainless steel vats where the apples are turned into hard cider, much the same way wine is made, explains Rafe Ward.

It begins with pressing the apples and turning the juice into sweet cider. Before the cider is poured into vats, yeast is added to allow the fermentation process to take place and to tweak taste before being carbonated.

“The yeast will eat the sugar, turning it into alcohol,” says Rafe Ward. “Our cider is dry. We usually have no sugar taste.”

The family begins the minimum two-month process of making cider in the fall when apples are fresh, with each batch bringing a new taste, depending on the harvest and combinations from the family. A recent addition is The Gambler, a blend of 123 varieties of apples, and more ciders are on the horizon.

Finding forgotten ciders

In addition to the little red barn, you can also find Forgotten Ciders around the Great Lakes Bay Region. The family ciders are self-distributed and available at the Michigan Tap Room inside Stardust Lanes in Saginaw Township, Whichcraft Tap Room and the Eastman Party Store in Midland, and Smitty’s Party Store in Breckenridge.

For more information, check out Eastman’s Forgotten Ciders on Facebook.


The Ward family is turning apples into dollars with its new business

The Ward family is jumping on the growing business trend of making hard cider. Forgotten Ciders (1068 W Midland-Gratiot County Line Rd, Wheeler) opened the doors of its hard cider mill in a little red barn in February. Each batch is made using between 20 and 150 different varieties of 100 percent freshly picked and pressed apples. Every finished cider comes with a name as unique as the taste—Windmill Watcher is in honor of the windmill field across the street, and Private Stash is the family favorite.

Family roots

It’s funny how new businesses take root. A case in point is the start of Forgotten Ciders, going back 25 years to when Cindy Ward’s father and uncle, Douglas and Jon Eastman, planted more than 1,000 varieties of heirloom and modern apple trees on 16 acres of land that had been in the family for more than 100 years. The members of the Ward family tried to outdo one another in a family competition, making hard cider from the apples growing on the farm.

It was eight years ago when Cindy, her husband, Tim, and her sons, Rafe and Casey, bought those 16 acres and set about restoring the orchard, trimming trees, and doing general clean-up to begin selling under the name Eastman’s Antique Apples. “The trees planted by my grandfather and uncle were for making hard cider,” says Rafe Ward. “There are some varieties here notorious for hard cider.”

Branching out

Selling their wares at the Midland Farmers Market, people were lining up to purchase those notorious apples. “Our apples are so unique, everyone wants to buy them,” says Cindy Ward.

Because the family was already dabbling in hard cider, they got to work and began exploring the hard cider business. Rafe Ward explains, “Hard cider used to be the American drink before Prohibition. It’s one of the fastest growing industries, coming in No. 2 behind IPAs.”

Two years ago, the Wards broke ground on that little red barn and began making hard cider. The barn is open to the public from 1 – 7 p.m. on Saturdays, and guests have the choice of sitting at tables and chairs, bellying up to the bar, or strolling among the apple trees.

Pints run between $5 and $8, with bottles selling for $10 to $16. A flight of four samples, served on the family’s custom flight board, is $6, with a side of tortilla chips accompanied by a spicy cheese dip and salsa for an extra $5. Bottled water and pop are also available for $1.

From the tree to the glass

Behind the scenes is where the apple action takes place in gleaming stainless steel vats where the apples are turned into hard cider, much the same way wine is made, explains Rafe Ward.

It begins with pressing the apples and turning the juice into sweet cider. Before the cider is poured into vats, yeast is added to allow the fermentation process to take place and to tweak taste before being carbonated.

“The yeast will eat the sugar, turning it into alcohol,” says Rafe Ward. “Our cider is dry. We usually have no sugar taste.”

The family begins the minimum two-month process of making cider in the fall when apples are fresh, with each batch bringing a new taste, depending on the harvest and combinations from the family. A recent addition is The Gambler, a blend of 123 varieties of apples, and more ciders are on the horizon.

Finding forgotten ciders

In addition to the little red barn, you can also find Forgotten Ciders around the Great Lakes Bay Region. The family ciders are self-distributed and available at the Michigan Tap Room inside Stardust Lanes in Saginaw Township, Whichcraft Tap Room and the Eastman Party Store in Midland, and Smitty’s Party Store in Breckenridge.

For more information, check out Eastman’s Forgotten Ciders on Facebook.

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