Craft breweries have become the most popular tourist attraction in Washington, DC. Washington is home to eleven craft beer breweries. That’s not all. The thirst for craft ciders is as strong as ever in Washington, as curious drinkers continue to explore and seek new cideries. D.C.’s cider scene is anchored by budding local enterprise ANXO, which debuted in 2016. Its tasty signature cider has become increasingly popular across the city. While apples are still the main ingredient, cideries are experimenting with pears, peaches, berries, and other fruits. They’re also appealing to a wider variety of palates by introducing hops and bourbon-barrel aging into the process. Unlike its DC area competitors, the ANXO Cidery in Brightwood Park applies its own ‘press’ on cider brewing.
ANXO Cidery was founded in 2016 by Sam and Rachel Fitz, along with Cooper Sheehan, a graphic designer. ANXO (AN-CHO) is a common first name in Northern Spain and it is also a Galician synonym for Basajaun, a Basque mythological creature that is something like a benevolent Bigfoot. Having taught humans agriculture, ironworking, and shepherding, Basajaun retreated to the darkness of the forests where he remains a bridge between the natural world and humanity. Restaurant veterans Sam Fitz, Rachel Fitz and Cooper Sheehan co-founded ANXO after working with beer for nearly a decade. Cider offered exciting unexplored opportunities that were confirmed after touring cider country throughout England, Spain, Basque Country, France, and the Pacific Northwest. Their styles of cider also take inspiration from the Unites States Eastern Seaboard.
ANXO has three locations, including its new canning location to be opening in the near future. The main location is on Kennedy Avenue, with its Truxton Circle location on Florida Avenue. The new location on 1 st Street and Kennedy will be solely for canning. Federally, ANXO is a winery. Locally, they’re known as a wine pub. They are licensed for wine and cider production at the same time.
ANXO’s cider selection changes from time to time and are categorized by flavor profile-bright, structured, fruit-forward, and rustic. ANXO also serves collaborations with other craft cideries around the U.S. However, a great tasting cider has its unique body and taste. What is the secret to making a good tasting cider? Sam Fitz provided the simplest answer-using apples that are grown well, smell good, and taste good. All three attributes together make a smooth, crisp, tasting cider, leaving a cider drinker thirsting for one more glass. But, beer and cider drinkers should not get confused. Beer and cider come from two distinctly processes, with specific attributes contributing to their uniqueness. Fitz was asked to elaborate on the difference between brewing beer and cider. “Cider isn’t brewed. Brewing beer requires heat. Cider doesn’t require heat; just fermentation.” When drinking a glass of cider, one’s senses can pick up the fermented apple pulp, mixed with wine that brings out the smooth, clean, refreshing, taste. Of all eight of ANXO’s ciders in production, their Grand-Cru is well-enjoyed by cider afficionados from all around the country.
Every cidery is known for its unique, yet popular cider recipes. ANXO’s ciders all have one major characteristic in common. For all of its ciders, they use apples only. In 2018, ANXO produced fifty ciders, made only of apples. Fitz was asked to elaborate on ANXO’s most popular ciders. “Our two most popular is our Cidre Blanc, made of locally sourced apples. Our other popular cider is the Cidre Rose, made with apples with a red inside.” To make their signature ciders, only the best orchards can be used. ANXO relies on fourteen different orchards, located in Washington State and Oregon. ANXO also uses local orchards in Virginia and Pennsylvania.
ANXO’s ciders are not just enjoyed around the local DC area and Virginia. They do have a handful of strong markets. Their ciders are sold and enjoyed in Philadelphia, Boston, New York , and Portland, Maine. Fitz was asked a challenging question. When asked about if there were any least-liked ciders, he was responded “There are no least favorite ciders at ANXO. All ciders currently made are continually made.” Undoubtedly, there’s no disappointment ‘pouring’ out at ANXO.
At any cidery or brewery, there are always new recipes in the testing stages, waiting to be happily bottled and canned, to be enjoyed by millions. Fitz was asked to share any new ciders in the development stages. “Our newest is called Commonwealth, made of 100% Virginia Harrison apples. They have a green skin, bred for cider making. The apples are known as Tannin, or ‘in red wine’”. To keep customers returning, it’s imperative to come up with new flavor renditions to keep cider aficionados guessing what’s next. When it comes to the fall and winter, featuring new recipes keeps the curiosity of cider drinkers and cider aficionados alike fresh as the apples themselves.
Cideries and breweries alike are becoming the ultimate attraction in the DC area. There is plenty of competition in the area, including Capital Cider House, Supreme Core Cider, and Lost Boy Cider. ANXO is indeed a unique cidery with a purpose. When asked what makes ANXO the perfect tourist attraction for DC visitors, especially beer and cider drinkers, Fitz replied, “We have great food and wine at all of our locations. Our locations are on Florida Ave. And Kennedy Avenue. Both cideries feature a full bar.”.
In any great American city, beer breweries are popular. In our nation’s capital, cider is making an even bigger name for itself. The ANXO Cidery in DC’s Brightwood Park neighborhood is well underway to become a great cidery. Enjoyed by thousands of locals and tourists, ANXO makes ciders that are sure to keep cider drinkers and cider aficionados happy along the east coast. Unlike beer, cider is made with the best apples, with great technique, and with a perfect touch of tender love and care. There is no shortage of these attributes at ANXO. Inspired by the roots of northern Spain’s Basque Country, ANXO combines the best apples, solid technique, and fine tradition to make the perfect glass of cider. Visiting ANXO is more than exploring cider production. It’s exploring cider tradition at DC’s core.
David Kriso is a guest contributor to our ” The Beer-Centric Traveler” blog.
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