With names like Cox's Orange Pippin and Esopus Spitzenburg, the sparkling beverages pouring from Champagne-like bottles at a new Aurora tasting room might be hard to identify — unless you're an apple aficionado. Both are the products of Haykin Family Cider, which opens to the public at 12001 East 33rd Avenue on Thursday, February 1. Owners Daniel and Talia Haykin plan to showcase the flavors of heirloom apples grown in small Colorado orchards with their dizzying lineup of bottled ciders.
"We view apples in the same way that winemakers view grapes," Daniel explains. "We know all of our own apple growers — they're all from Colorado."
The Haykins began making cider at home several years ago; what started out as a hobby with a few gallons of juice purchased from a roadside stand turned into an obsession that resulted in a first-in-class award, two gold medals, six silvers and six bronzes at the 2017 Great Lakes International Cider and Perry Competition, the largest and most important cider competition in the world. That was while the Haykins were still amateurs and not yet producing ciders in a commercial operation.
So while he aims to have several varietals available as regular offerings, smaller batches may produce only a case or two of special bottlings. Right now, the tasting room's case is filled with bottles labeled Winter Banana (an actual apple varietal, named for its distinct banana flavor), Ruby Jon, Akane, Rome Beauty, Harrow Sweet, Fuji, and the aforementioned Cox's Orange Pippin (one of Great Britain's most popular dessert apples) and Esopus Spitzenburg (a favorite of Thomas Jefferson). Several more varieties are also available on tap.
For more information on where you can by Haykin Family Cider, visit the company's website, or stop by the tasting room to sample and purchase a few. You might be surprised at the range of dry, sweet and tart ciders with natural flavors — from banana to stone fruit to pomegranate — that develop through the fermentation process. Even the same apple varietal grown in two different Colorado orchards can result in markedly different flavors, a result of the state's surprisingly good apple-growing climate and the dedication of its farmers. "We're proving that they're growing an international-quality product," Daniel notes. And Haykin is proving that Colorado cider can be an international-quality drink that can stand up to the best in the world.