America's Oldest Cider Mill Is Located In This Northern State

American cider has a tumultuous history, from its days under the thumb of the Prohibition to its years of ultimate popularity as a refreshing fall beverage. There's so much you need to know about cider, but amidst all these events and stories is B.F. Clyde's Cider Mill. Benjamin F. Clyde started to produce bottles to sell from its Mystic, Connecticut operation, in 1881. Little did he know that his creation would later be hailed as the oldest steam-powered cider mill in the U.S.

Rather than manually creating his cider, Clyde splurged on a 15-horsepower, center-crank Ames engine. This screw press, powered by that engine, is still used today, where it squishes apple pulp through wooden racks and causes the run-off to flow underneath into collection channels. This strategy was the key to his early success, as the press enabled faster processing of larger batches. For those visiting Connecticut, you can watch the cider pressing happen in real-time with official tours taken on a walk-in basis. Just head to 129 North Stonington Road in Mystic (although check Clyde's hours beforehand, as it runs seasonally). 

What products does it sell apart from bottled cider?

It would be a crime not to experience a cider tasting when visiting the oldest steam mill in the U.S.; the historic site stocks eight variations alone. Still, if you fancy something different, there are other options. Have you heard of an apple cider donut before? Clyde's uses its surplus ingredients extremely wisely, creating donuts, turnovers, dumplings, and pies. It's not just a venue for a tipple but a brilliant bakery for tasty food purchases. Many people don't know that apples are also useful in vinification, too. This mill offers 14 different kinds of apple wine for customers craving something other than cider. It's safe to say that when you visit Clyde's, you and your stomach will be kept suitably busy. 

Similarly, the Clyde family is all hands on deck; the mill is currently run by the 4th, 5th, and 6th generations and is owned by Benjamin Clyde's great-granddaughter, Annette Bucklyn Moore. The enterprise is a fascinating story, surviving the Prohibition by switching to producing vinegar stock (and indulging in the odd bit of bootlegging). It's by no means hugely industrial and, in a sweet twist, still sells the vast majority of products out of its adjoining cellar. Clyde's isn't just a business or landmark but a homely presence within the Mystic community — undoubtedly a secret of its success.