Small bites: CiderFest NC

A NOBLE CRAFT: There's a significant disparity between craft cider and the brands that line grocers' shelves, CiderFest organizer Nina Zinn says. “One of the differences is a lot of the craft cider makers are paying attention to using pure ingredients and not diluting the cider or adding artificial sweeteners.” Photo of Noble Cider's blueberry-infused cider by Kat McReynolds

What does fermented apple juice have to do with environmentally conscious construction?

“We came up with [CiderFest] as our annual fundraiser,” says Nina Zinn, development and outreach coordinator for the WNC Green Building Council, adding that the festival aims to honor Appalachian traditions of strong community and local food sources. Although compatible with the council’s commitment to sustainability, the celebration of hard cider “was designed to reach outside of WNC Green Builders’ typical user base,” she says.

Mirroring the cider industry’s steep growth curve, the local festival has expanded dramatically over a short time. This third iteration, according to lead organizer Zinn, is poised to generate nearly double the attendance figures of the inaugural year, which saw about 425 patrons sampling the products of five cider makers.

For 2015, Zinn says, “We will have 15 hard cider makers, and they typically have two to four varieties.” Companies from North Carolina and neighboring states comprise the majority of those pouring for the day, but representatives from California, Michigan, Ohio and Vermont will also serve beverages. Also participating but falling slightly outside the traditional cider category are Bee & Bramble meadery, apple wine maker Burntshirt Vineyards and apple beer brewer Windy Ridge Farms.

Between samplings, attendees will have several food vendors to choose from, including cheese and bread from the WNC Cheese Trail, multiple food trucks and other small snacks.

Those who want to learn more about what’s in their cup can gather for a presentation — Drink Up Thy Zyder: a Brief History and the Vast Gamut of Cider — at Black Mountain Ciderworks’ booth at 2:30 p.m. Plus, Asheville Brewers Supply is sponsoring a new home cider-making booth where DIY types can mingle, peruse cider-making kits and attend educational presentations, including a home-brewing demonstration and talk at 3:30 p.m.

Also new this year is the entertainment programming. “Instead of having one band at a central stage, we’re going to have buskers throughout the event to give it a whole different festival feel,” Zinn says. Acoustic performers include Straight Six, Shifty Drifters featuring Abby the Spoon Lady, Celestially Rooted, The John Hardy Party and Lycaonfire Flow Arts.

For kiddies, the festival offers an interactive station with mini-hands-on projects based on sustainable-living themes, and all ages are welcome to browse the work of local artists and crafters.

CiderFest is at the WNC Farmers Market, 570 Brevard Road, on Saturday, Nov. 7, 1-5 p.m. Information and tickets ($30 per adult and $15 per child or designated driver) are available at

Ashley English’s home dairy workshop

Butter, yogurt, mozzarella — oh my! Candler-based homesteading guru (and frequent author on the subject) Ashley English is holding a class at Villagers to enlighten others on her dairy-making ways. “From equipment and ingredients (including a look at pasteurization and homogenization) to hygiene and technique, we’ll examine the ins and outs of what it takes to create delicious homemade dairy goods,” reads Villagers’ event description. “Students will receive hands-on instruction and literature for making butter, yogurt and mozzarella cheese.” Samples are included.

English’s workshop is on Sunday, Nov. 8,  5-7 p.m., at Villagers, 278 Haywood Road. Information and tickets ($25) are available at

The Hop West’s fifth birthday

The Hop West turns about as old as the artisan ice cream shop’s most loyal customers on Thursday, Nov. 5, and this five-year birthday party includes free ice cream for the whole town. “As a way to say thank you for the support and love you have given and shown over these years, we will be giving away free kiddie scoops to anyone and everyone,” reads the company’s Facebook event page.

Birthday celebrations are at The Hop West, 721 Haywood Road, on Thursday, Nov. 5. Visit for more details.

Season’s at Highland Lake’s new chef

Season’s at Highland Lake and Highland Lake Inn & Resort have announced the arrival of new executive chef Steve Boeger. Inspired by the food of his German immigrant parents, Boeger began his professional culinary career at The American Bistro and Bakery in Asheville before making his way through several kitchens in Philadelphia and boomeranging back to Western North Carolina to accept a position at The Venue. “He now joins the Season’s at Highland Lake family and is thrilled to work with local farmers who share his same philosophies,” reads a release from the company. “He supports the garden-to-plate movement and is happy to have access to the restaurant’s on-site organic garden.”

Visit to learn more about the chef. Season’s at Highland Lake is at 86 Lily Pad Lane in Flat Rock.


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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