Silas Gordon, Ivan Gordon, and Ron Dixon had been friends for almost two decades when their dream to create delicious, all natural hard cider first took shape. The apple-crazy Gordon brothers, raised in a home where foods with preservatives and additives were not allowed, were searching tirelessly for a mother-approved hard cider. Meanwhile, Ron, a mad-scientist of homebrew, was fine-tuning his own recipes. Long story short, Silas and Ivan’s additive and preservative free cider quest was, well, fruitless. And Ron, always thirsty for a challenge, was ready for a new one. And so they set out together to craft a cider with a bit of sweetness, but with nothing artificial added. Simple.
And that was the goal; make simple, pure, and delicious hard cider. So Ron, with a science degree in his back-pocket, began the research, and Silas, with his steadfast philosophy, insisted that they stick to the mission. Together with Ivan, they came up with a plan.
The three agreed that the most important criterion, aside from keeping the cider pure, was that it had to smell and taste like real apples. That fall they experimented with apple and yeast varieties beyond those suggested y research. On weekends you could spot any of them pulled over by the side of the road, gathering wild apples to try. Through trial, error, and lots of tasting, their experiments began to yield success.
Soon they were pressing bushels of apples in Ron and his wife Shauna’s driveway, using a wooden basket press. By late fall they outgrew the fermentation set up that crowded Ron’s basement and overtook the garage.
Before long they were making ridiculous quantities of cider. Friends were stopping by to fill growlers. Some requested kegs for parties. The boys were constantly honing their cider formula. And one day, after a discussion with Ivan, Silas asked Ron if he wanted to do something crazy. “If it’s not crazy, is it worth doing?” was his reply.
North Country Hard Cider found their new home in the Salmon Falls Mills in Rollinsford, NH and renovations began in June 2014.
Ivan, Silas, and Ron were the contractors, builders, and clean up crew on the job. They worked relentlessly, on a tight budget constrained by their own bank accounts, motivated to open that fall. In record time, they managed to build everything, from the keg washer to the bar and tasting room tables, using scraps and salvage whenever possible.
With the help of his friend Dan, Silas rebuilt an abandoned 1930s era Palmer Brothers hydraulic press and gave it a new life at the cidery where it was installed in their homemade production line.
Early September 2014 brought the first local apples of the season. By mid-November they had enough hard cider to open their tasting room to the public.
North Country Hard Cider officially opened its doors on November 22, 2014 with three ciders on tap, Original Press, Honey Badger, and Northern Comfort.
Demand for cider grew steadily and by early 2015 Giles Family Farm in Alfred, ME began to store and press apples for North Country. In the fall of 2015 they installed three 15 barrel tanks and a new chiller to increase production and their presence in area bars, restaurants, and specialty beverage shops in New Hampshire and Maine. In the spring of 2017, they installed a GEA centrifuge to help with cider clarification, added three more 15 barrel tanks, and expanded their cold storage.
In July of 2017 NCHC began canning some of their products in anticipation of moving to statewide distribution in the fall.