Carlson Orchards Hard Cider


Photos by Michael Piazza

“Our cider is not too sweet. Not too dry. It’s perfect,” Frank Carlson says of Oak Hill Blend, Carlson Orchards’ first hard cider.

On a 100-acre farm atop a hill in Harvard, Carlson Orchards grows a variety of apples for picking, for eating and for drinking. After 75 years of making and selling fresh nonalcoholic sweet cider, the orchard began selling hard cider in 2018. This summer Carlson Orchards will open a 2,800-square-foot post-and-beam tasting room with views of the orchard, offering ciders on tap made from a variety of apples grown on the farm.

When Frank and his brothers, Bruce and Robert, sold some apples to the people behind Stormalong Cider in Sherborn, the Carlsons told the cider makers they were interested in having their own hard cider. Now the operation is a collaboration of three businesses: Carlson Orchards grows and picks the apples; Steven and David Rowse of New England Apple Products press the apples at their Leominster cider mill and Shannon Edgar of Stormalong Cider ferments the juice in Sherborn to create Carlson Orchards branded hard cider.

The orchard’s second hard cider, Shandy Stand, is made with freshly squeezed lemon juice in addition to apple juice. By this fall, Frank says the orchard will be pouring another cider in its taproom, perhaps peach or cranberry cherry. With the planting of 3,000 hard cider apple trees (12 different varieties) Carlson Orchards will continue to make hard cider, adding a dryer label to its hard cider products.

People know the reputation of Carlson Orchards cider, Frank says. “Carlson Orchards and hard cider fit together.”

This story appeared in the Summer 2019 issue of Edible Worcester.