Here’s a perfect weekend getaway to add to your summer to-do list, especially if you love cider. Delicious Orchards is a thirty-acre paradise for cider drinkers that's run by the owners of Big B’s, located in Hotchkiss, Colorado.
At the welcoming destination right off the highway, you'll find a retail shop, a cider tasting room, a full cafe and grill, campgrounds, produce stands and free live-music performances throughout the summer. Co-owner Jeff Schwartz describes the atmosphere as laid-back and casual. “It’s really a lovely community space for people to hang out — both travelers and locals,” he says.
The cider bar serves cider cocktails, tasting trays, and pours of twelve available ciders, which are a mix of flagships, cellared ciders and seasonal specialties on tap.
The deli and small cafe serves “easy-going” food, says Schwartz. There are a variety of soups and sandwiches, such as smoked pulled pork, vegetarian black-bean burgers and grilled goat cheese. Other hearty options include smothered burritos, tamales, chile cheese fries and homemade pie. If you’re passing through, there are a variety of pre-made sandwiches and wraps to go. Visitors can also pick their own apples, plums and cherries, and swing on large tree swings, regardless of age.
Big B’s has been producing fresh apple juices in Colorado since 1973 and hard cider since 2007. “We’ve grown tremendously,” Schwartz says. The company was the first in the state to can hard cider and started producing it before the recent boom in cider popularity.
“Before ciders were hot, none of the liquor stores were interested,” Schwartz recalls. “They had Woodchuck, and that was good for them,” he says.
Now that the interest in cider has grown over the past decade, Big B’s produces four flagship ciders and a variety of special releases. The sulfite-free ciders are always fresh. “We can press our own apples and be fermenting within 24 hours of harvest,” Schwartz says. “That really allows us to do a nice, clean fermentation and a good consistency.”
While visiting, try the Summer Lazy Days, which combines cider with Big B’s lemonade for an easy-drinking sweet and refreshing blend.
The company also runs a program called Big B’s Benefits, which supports local community organizations. Efforts have been made in a wide variety of causes, from social justice and environmental efforts to agriculture education and youth-sponsored activities.
Of course, you don't need to drive all the way to Hotchkiss to enjoy Big B's ciders. Even during this chilly winter, bottles and cans are available at specialty liquor stores around Denver.