Drink cider, protect the planet? That’s the idea behind Hudson North Cider, the new beverage concept from Backpack Brands founders and siblings Kyle and Sara Sheffer. Best known for Graft Cider, their low-calorie, dry-style cider made from Hudson Valley apples, the Sheffers launched the latest branch of their Newburgh-based business to raise awareness for local trails.
Launched at the beginning of March, Hudson North Cider is a mission-driven cidery that supports the maintenance of Hudson Valley trailways. “We wanted to give back to something worthy,” Kyle Sheffer explains.
After discussing a collaboration with Scenic Hudson two years ago, he reformulated the initiative to include New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, as well. For every gallon of draft cider sold, 10 cents is divided between the brand’s two nonprofit partners.
As with Graft, Hudson North relies on apples from Minard’s Family Farm in Clintondale to produce its Standard Cider and seasonal Ginger Citrus cans. Yet where Graft specializes in European-style dry cider that appeals to craft beer drinkers, Hudson North leans slightly sweeter with hazy, French-inspired brews that, with five-percent ABV and only eight grams of sugar, are just as drinkable as the farmstand stuff.
For Sheffer, the goal of Hudson North is not just to craft top-notch cider, but to get people socializing over a shared interest in the local landscape.
“We want to preserve the trails so, when people have time off, they can enjoy them,” he says. To this end, he created Taps for Trails to promote community engagement and raise additional funds. When bars and restaurants host Taps for Trails events, Hudson North donates $1 for every pint purchased. In the first week of the brand’s launch alone, it raised $1,372 for Scenic Hudson’s 40-plus trails and parks and New York-New Jersey Trail Conference’s 2,165-plus miles of trails. With seasonal flavors like Strawberry Rhubarb — and a full-scale Graft production facility and taproom slated to open in Newburgh by spring 2021— there’s no better time to toast to the Valley.