Northshore Magazine

November 2014

Northshore magazine showcases the best that the North Shore of Boston, MA has to offer.

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Even if you have guzzled a bottle of hard cider, chances are it tasted nothing like what Al and his wife, Denise, are offering with Far From The Tree Cider. After three years on the other side of the Atlantic, the Snapes came back home in 2013 with a different impression of what hard cider could be: dry, subtle, and nuanced in ways that its sticky-sweet counter- parts are not. All that's left to do now is clear up the misunderstandings, one taste at a time. Far From The Tree's nerve center is an unmarked brick building on Jackson Street in Salem, a long-gone slaughterhouse measuring some 3,000 square feet. The main room is now full of cases of cider bottles, stacked shoulder high underneath a ceiling supported by ultra-thick old-growth beams, and adjacent to a dimly lit bar made of wood reclaimed from a 19th-century Martha's Vineyard schoolhouse. Behind the bar, there's a homemade draught system connected to Far From The Tree's three inaugural ciders. New zoning rules allow the space to be used as Far From the Tree's tasting room, which is open to the public. It is here that Denise, dressed in business casual, Al with a bushy beard that he says is actually tame right now—sit on stools and explain what's going on next door in the barrel room, an old freezer unit stocked with more than 100 repurposed bourbon barrels. Some are positioned vertically, full of what's left of their first 5,000-gallon haul of apple juice from last autumn. Some lay horizontal, empty vessels for the harvest to come. Up through the 19th century, hard cider was among the most common beverages in New England. These days, it's a burgeoning niche among alcoholic beverages. While it only accounts for about one percent of its market, hard cider production grew to 32 million gal- lons in 2013—more than triple the 9.4 million gallons produced just two years earlier. Instead of commerce, the Snapes' entry into cider making sprang from wanderlust. In 2010, Denise and Al were both living and working in Boston—Al managed radioac- tive waste at an MIT lab, while Denise was a project manager for Shire Pharmaceuticals. Al hadn't lived outside Massachusetts, and Denise had only traveled once out of the country, but their restlessness sent them abroad. Denise took a job with her company overseas in England, while Al took a student visa, enrolling in a Bachelor's degree program in oenology 217 There's a circle of confusion that begins whenever Al Snape tells others about the two-syllable word he spends his days making: cider. "Instantly, they think of sweet cider," he says. So, it's like beer? they ask. "Well, not really. It's more like wine with apples instead of grapes." Oh. So it's like wine? "Well, no. It's cider." Cider Central Far left, Al and Denise Snape; left, the distillery is located in an old Salem slaughterhouse; barrels of cider

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