“If you wish to make an apple pie from scratch,” Carl Sagan once said, “you must first invent the universe.”
Halee and Jeff Fried can’t boast of inventing the universe, but their Farmstrong cider operation takes the idea of “from scratch” seriously. Their cider-making process doesn’t start with the juice, or the apples, or even the trees. They tend the very soil that their product ultimately comes from.
The couple bought a century-old farm near Armstrong in 2016, bringing 30 years of agriculture experience with them. Together with three of their four sons, they are realizing their dream of producing a high-quality local product — from scratch.
“Our goal is to surprise and delight you, inside the glass and out,” Halee said. “So a big part of what we’re trying to do at Farmstrong is connect people back to their roots.”
People always used to grow and make their own food, she said. Lately consumers have been showing more interest in how their food is grown, and the “craft” movement has taken firm hold in the beverage industry.
Halee says Farmstrong cider brings those trends together. “We see this as an opportunity to get people out to the farm and see how this process works,” she said. “When they come out they will see everything they’re buying in a bottle of cider.”
Farmstrong makes a sweet and a dry cider. Both are made from straight juice – it isn’t adjusted with water or sugar.
Halee describes the dry cider as a heritage style, with a slightly tannic mouth feel. The sweet cider is a good introduction to high-quality hand-crafted cider.
“We’re hoping our sweet cider serves as a gateway, to encourage people to try cider or to entice people that like a sweeter beverage to try a natural drink,” she said.
The sweet cider is sweetened with fresh juice after fermentation is complete. “It’s a simple process to make the cider, it’s just pure and natural and it’s in its own state,” Halee said.
Jeff has restored an old barn on the property to create a tasting room and a space for functions. Amid all the work of producing apples and making cider, the Frieds love receiving visitors and hosting their special events.
“We’re super approachable and super friendly, and we encourage people to ask questions,” Halee said.