Apples, Hard Cider, Reviews

Quick Hits: Millstone Cellars Farmgate


I’ve been away from my neighborhood for the past couple of weeks (potato bug infestation, don’t ask) and was cut off from my favorite cider supply-lines. I rescued as many bottles as I could carry out before the fumigation tent went up and I was forced to vacate.

CiderPlex Manor

Stranded at my temporary residence, I quickly ran out of the good stuff. Desperate, I was forced to trek to the nearby Whole Foods (yeah, I know, I know) to see what they were carrying. I was relieved to see they had some selections from Millstone Cellars. Phew! I grabbed a bottle of the Hopvine (with honey and hops) and a bottle of their Farmgate.


Here’s the label description of the Farmgate:

Unfiltered American rustic oak barrel fermented and aged cider with a blend of our tart heirloom cider apples. A sharp and funky recreation of pure flavors, farm values, and heritage.

The apples in question, according to the label, are Jonathan, Stayman Winesap, and Northern Spy.


Northern Spy

(Image via Salt Spring Apple Company)

As I’d mentioned earlier, I’ve been trying to learn more about apple varities. Here’s what my main man Claude Jolicoeur says about Northern Spy:

A classic American late-season apple with notable reistance to fireblight, a good source of acid where needed in blending and popular as a pie apple.

Of the Jonatahn, our good friend Wikipedia says:

The Jonathan apple is a medium-sized sweet apple, with a strong touch of acid and a tough but smooth skin. It is closely related to theEsopus Spitzenburg apple. According to the US Apple Associationwebsite it is one of the fifteen most popular apple cultivars in the United States.

As for the Stayman Winesap, Orange Pippin says:

Descended from Winesap, and in most respects an even better apple.

Wikipedia elaborates:

Firm, tender, finely textured, juicy, crisp, and yellowish-green, the flesh is tart and spicy. They keep very well, and are used primarily as dessert apples, but also make a fine addition to blended cider.

For a change, I tried to take some tasting notes for the Farmgate. You tell me, is this at all useful information?


As you can see, I kind of gave up. OK, so I’m not exactly a critic – I don’t really think CiderPlex is about cider criticism, it’s much more focused on “chronicling.”



: to describe a series of events in the order that they happened

By that defintion, those tasting notes are a complete success. But to expand on my inital thoughts; this, like most Millstone offerings, is a strong-tasting, very tart, very funky cider. I really love this type of thing, but it’s not for beginners. I wouldn’t call it “challenging” (really, what *is* challenging?) but it was not sweet in the slightest. It’s the type of cider that really helps to drink an entire bottle yourself (I happen to think that’s true of almost all ciders, but that’s just me).


Haven’t tried the Hopvine yet, but I typically enjoy hopped cider (purists be damned). Can’t wait. Maybe I should be thanking the potato bugs.


3 thoughts on “Quick Hits: Millstone Cellars Farmgate

  1. I tried Millstone’s Cobbler…I really didn’t know what I was getting into with that one. Nothing I found online said it would be tart and mouth-puckering astringent. I was expecting dry, slightly unfiltered, with some peach and barrel aged influence.

    Unfortunately it was undrinkable for me (and 3 companions). The owner said their style is similar to Spanish Sidra, so that explains it a bit (why not put that on their website though?). Definitely not for a cider beginner, and it was too much of a challenge for me. Maybe it is also a regional thing, as I mostly drink Pacific Northwest ciders (as I live in the Seattle area)? I haven’t had a single cider from around here which was that rustic.

    I tried to be nice though with my review:

    So, would you buy Farmgate again?

    • Hehe,”astringent” is a good word – there’s certainly a harshness to some of Millstone’s offerings and the Spanish sidra comparison is apt. I *do* enjoy sidras, although I’ve had some that taste like a bottle of olive juice and the appeal escapes me!
      I appreciate that Millstone is doing something original, they come at cider from their own angle. But I wouldn’t call it a crowd-pleaser necessarily. But on certain occasions, I want the weirdest, funkiest ciders I can find (and Millstone fits the bill). My favorite I’ve tried from them was their “Debauched,” which I posted about in February:

      • Yeah, thats just not to my liking. I like bold and unique, but not weird and funky. Millstone will be at Cider Summit Seattle, so I’m hoping to find a cider from them I like though.

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