Cidermakers Ryan Burk of Angry Orchard and Kevin Zielinski of E. Z. Orchard have worked closely over the years. Burk is a relative newcomer who quickly established himself with barrel-aged and blended ciders in Michigan and now the Hudson Valley. Zielinski is of the European orchardist tradition making natural fermentation cidres on his family's farm in Oregon. Both have taken advantage of each other's experiences to help shape their own points of view for the future of the category.
But at Bad Hunter in Chicago this week they served their ciders together for the first time at a dinner curated by the Heisler Group's beverage director, Michael McAvena. As well as I've come to know these three, it was still a shock to me that this moment hadn't occurred prior. It felt so familiar and inevitable.
It was a welcome lesson for me. In this industry, it may well seem that everyone gets along and shares a table with ease. But even then, some people develop a more intimate influence on each other, and seem to occupy each other's minds in a way that makes them feel continuously present—as though accessible from a quick word across the room, as that room stretches across our mind's eye from one coast to another.