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Monday, April 18, 2022

Local Expansion: Three Falls Cider debuts at popular Castile mill
Three Falls Cider owners Dan and Pam Chasey, center, are joined by relatives, employees, and President Scott Gardner of the Wyoming County Chamber of Commerce during a ribbon cutting ceremony Saturday in Castile. The expansion has been years in the making.

The Castile Cider Mill is well-known for its sweet cider. But store the popular drink longer and it becomes a different beverage with an appeal all its own.

Owners Dan and Pam Chasey debuted their new business Saturday at the mill on 29 East Park Rd. Three Falls Cider features a variety of hard ciders they’re now producing year-round at the operation they’ve owned since 2008.

“As the business grew, we thought about different things we could do with it,” Dan, 61, said shortly before the ribbon cutting. “Eventually we decided hard cider would be a good fit. We have a lot of good equipment on the sweet cider end we could use for hard cider and the building’s pretty big. Basically we were only using a quarter of it at the time.”

The story and transition as told by co-owner Dan Chasey to videographer Mark Gurman from the Daily News:

Three Falls Cider is located in the building’s rear portion. It includes newly-built tasting room featuring taps, a bar and tables.

Behind them — and beyond the general public’s view — is a row of tanks producing flavors such as segahunda, bourbon barrel farmhouse, hogsback dry-hopped and timber rattler.

Each has been developed carefully and it’s not as easy as people might assume — a good hard cider isn’t nearly same thing as simply letting a sweet cider age.

Dan Chasey took numerous classes through the Cornell Cooperative Extension to learn the chemistry involved in producing hard cider, along with the old-style heirloom varieties that make the best product.

He said the older varieties — some developed specifically for hard ciders — are better than the sweet cider “dessert apples.”

“That kind of set ourselves up and that was four or five years ago,” Chasey said. “Everything’s come to fruition now. We got our license last August and started fermenting our first vintages over the winter. Right now we have nine ciders and we’ll probably bring on another one.”

Each involves different yeasts and apples to create ciders ranging from semi-sweet to semi-dry. The Chaseys try to stay away from lots of sugar and flavorings, in order to bring out the essence of the apples they’re using, as with traditional hard ciders.

Northern Spy is one their more-common base apples used in hard ciders. Harrison is another variety — it was once commonly used in New Jersey’s hard cider industry, which was sizable and significant about 120 years ago.

“Right now with our processes and the yeasts we’re using, and the apples, there’s a few that you could essentially with a month or month-and-a-half,” Chasey said. “But really for blending and different ciders, you want to have I would say two or three months of aging on them. After that, a lot of apple characteristics are there in the cider.”

They develop the cider recipes on paper at first. Then comes testing a small batch, including measuring acid levels, taking hydrometer readings, and gauging the amount of solids present every few days throughout the fermentation process.

“A big thing is, you have a lot of off-flavors that can get in your cider if you let the acid start to drop, once it gets too basic,” Chasey said.

It typically takes about 60 bushels to fill one of the mill’s 1,000 liter tanks, he said. Beyond adding the cider, the operation is also bringing in a mobile canning unit and plans to add a deck this summer.

And not to worry — when autumn arrives, the mill will still offer its sweet cider and related products as traditional.

“It will be quite hectic,” Chasey said, laughing a bit. “We will see how the season plays out.”

Hard cider was at one point the nation’s drink of choice, he said. Three Falls Cider intends to help rekindle and maintain that tradition.

What’s the best part?

“I think in the beginning it’s just getting the different apples and putting them together in different combinations, because you’re always looking for something that somebody else may not be onto yet,” Chasey said.

Three Falls Cider is open noon to 6 p.m. Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. The Chaseys are hoping to add an additional day and hour of operation during the summer.

Check the Three Falls Cider information page for more information and updates.

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