If an apple a day keeps the doctor away, then cider must be a magical elixir that maintains pristinely good health. OK, so obviously we don’t really think a pint of cider is a panacea for all that ails you — but hey, it could definitely improve the health of your social life! And when it comes to Atlanta, one of the best places to fill your tank with that apple-y goodness is Urban Tree Cidery.
Located on the Westside, in a modern industrial building off Howell Mill Road, Urban Tree Cidery is a cool place to meet up with friends and discuss the day over their homemade concoctions, brewed right on the premises. Billed as “Atlanta’s first cidery” and “first craft cider brand,” Urban Tree Cidery offers a variety of flavors, including both year-round and seasonal options.
But before we can talk about their tasty drinks, let’s review what cider actually is. Cider is an alcoholic beverage made from fermented apple juice. And don’t think humans are the only species of animal trying to get wasted from fruit. Eric Hendon, who helps manage operations and production for Urban Tree Cidery, told me a colorful anecdote that moose and other animals eat rotten apples on the ground for the specific reason of getting drunk. “After eating the apples, those animals roll on the ground and look a lot like us after a night on the town,” says Eric.
You won’t see any moose outside Urban Tree Cidery wearing cider goggles, so let’s get back to the task at hand — ordering a refreshing drink. Since a lot of people may not be familiar with cider in general, much less Urban Tree’s specific varietals, I suggest one of the two available flights: Flagship or Seasonal (or both, which is what I did with my pal).
The flagship flight, $10, includes standby favorites — Original (English-style dry), Classic (crisp, semisweet, refreshing), Rum-Barrel Aged (aged in Nicaraguan rum barrels and characteristics of caramel) and Fugg’n Hopped (dryer style with Fuggle hops). The seasonal flight, $14, includes two of the above-mentioned ciders, Rum-Barrel Aged and Fugg’n Hopped, as well as Wild Buzz (naturally fermented Stayman Winesap apple with wildflower honey) and Sweet Heat (ginger infusion with a touch of habañero zest).
The favorites in my party were Original, Classic and Sweet Heat. Once you find your go-to flavor you can order a draft, a 750 mL bottle or a massive glass growler to bring home and enjoy later. The first-time fill for a growler (including the cost of the growler itself) is $23, and after you guzzle up the apple-y booze, bring it back for a refill for $18.
Live on the wild side of the cidery by trying one of the house cocktails, named in honor of Atlanta’s greatest in-town neighborhoods. I had the Berkeley Park, a delicious blend of Urban Tree’s Original cider with Lovell Bros. Georgia whiskey and 18.21 Bitters‘ lemon basil syrup and apple cardamom shrub, served in a large Mason jar for $11. The cool thing about the cocktails is that almost every single ingredient is locally made or comes from a Georgia brand, like 229 Vodka, Proof Old Fashioned syrup, Old Fourth gin and others.
If you’re craving some bar food to go along with your refreshingly bubbly cider, keep in mind that Urban Tree’s menu consists of beverages only. However, check their website and social media pages often, as they regularly host various local food trucks to serve some great food along with their tasty brews. In fact, they’ll be hosting their very first Sunday brunch this weekend with the help of The Deep South Biscuit Co. food truck (as well as live entertainment from Jeff Willis). Events like these do happen fairly often, so you just need to check before you go … or sneak some pretzels in your purse.
The great thing about Urban Tree Cidery (besides their excellent products) is how freely they share how the process works with the public. Other than growing the actual apples, the entire brewing process happens on-site — juicing, fermenting, filtering, blending, aging, infusing, carbonating, bottling and, of course, drinking! Again, check the website and see if the cidery is offering a tour for customers and curious drinkers to see the process right in front of your eyes (and drooling mouth).
Urban Tree Cidery is located at 1465 Howell Mill Road, Atlanta, GA 30318. Summer tasting room hours are Wednesday and Thursday, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.; Saturday, 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.; Sunday, 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. For more information about upcoming events and other details, call (404) 855-5546 or visit urbantreecidery.com.