Pittsburgh cider makers win big; spirit makers, too

Bob Batz Jr.

Published May 28, 2019


Two Pittsburgh cider makers won a bushel of medals in this year’s Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition, judged earlier this month in Grand Rapids, Mich. They wound up in the top 20 for total medals. 

The North Side’s Threadbare Cider and Mead won 11 medals, including a best-in-class third-place gold in spiced cider for its Bouquet de Rose. 

Lawrenceville’s Arsenal Cider House & Wine Cellar won 10 medals, including two golds — one in dry modern cider for its Picket Bone Dry and one in sweet modern cider for its Event Blend. 

Threadbare’s other wins were: 

Bourbon Barrel Reserve — wood aged cider silver

Dry Cider — dry modern cider silver 

Dry Hopped — hopped cider silver

Fall Spiced — spiced cider silver

Farmhouse — dry modern cider silver

412 City Cider — dry modern cider bronze

Northern Spy — dry modern cider bronze

Perry the Pear — modern perry bronze 

Phil's Burrow — wood aged specialty cider bronze

Stayman Winesap — dry modern cider bronze 

Arsenal’s other wins were: 

Archibald’s Ado — sweet modern cider silver

Crimson Crisp — sweet modern cider silver

Gold Rush — dry modern cider silver

Grierson’s Ginger — spiced cider silver

Broken Hearts Are For Apples — sweet modern cider bronze

Ginger Gold — dry modern cider bronze

Snowbound Cinnamon — spiced cider bronze 

Bootleggers Bourbon Apple — wood aged cider bronze 

The 14th annual competition had 1,584 total entries. In the commercial division, there were 1,217 entries, to which judges awarded 1,074 medals — 163 gold, 473 silver and 438 bronze. There were 60 commercial best-in-class awards.

“We are extremely honored to be in the company of some truly world class cider makers,” said Threadbare’s head cider maker Brian Bolzan. 

For all the details, visit https://glintcap.org.

Rose aficionados can note that Arsenal recently won a double gold in the California Experience Rose Competition with its Isabella Rose. Arsenal’s Andrew Rich points out that Isabella also won gold at the Finger Lakes International Wine Competition, at which Arsenal’s other awards included a double gold for its Cavalryman Cranberry. “It’s nice to get good feedback,” says Mr. Rich. “It shows us we are on the right track!” Here are those full results: https://fliwc-cgd.com/winners-2019.asp.

Meanwhile, Pittsburgh distilleries won in this year’s 10th-annual New York Spirits Competition.

Kingfly Spirits’ Blake Ragghianti says, “I don’t know what it is about Pittsburgh and rum, but I’m excited and honored to report that we won a silver medal” — for white rum — while the distillery’s Strip District neighbor, Allegheny Distilling, won a silver for its Maggie’s Farm 50/50 Dark Rum. Allegheny also was named Pennsylvania Rum Distillery of the Year, while Lawrenceville Distilling was named Pennsylvania Gin Distillery of the Year, as its new Ginzer won a silver for gin. That distillery also won a bronze for its 1129 Ridge Ave. Absinthe Traditionelle. 

That contest had a lot of competition, with 600 entries from 29 countries. Read about it at https://nyispiritscompetition.com/2019-winners

Earlier this spring, Shaler’s Pennsylvania Pure Distilleries’ Boyd & Blair vodka won the unflavored vodka Chairman’s Trophy in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge: www.ultimate-beverage.com/USC2019results.

And in the San Francisco International Spirits Competition (http://sfspiritscomp.com/results), local winners were Allegheny Distilling’s Hidden Harbor Blended White Rum (gold) and its Maggie’s Farm 1982 Queen’s Share Double Oak Rum (silver), plus Liberty Pole Spirits’ Spirits Peated Bourbon (silver) and its Peated Rye Whiskey (bronze).  

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