Category Archives: Blog

Vander Mill Blue Gold

Vander Mill began as a cider mill in 2006 with modest intentions: to create a homey cider-centric gathering place. But the cidery has quickly developed into something larger – about 400% larger than its original production, to be exact. READ MORE…

22 Low-Alcohol Cocktails for Mellow Evenings

Session cocktails are on the rise.

Once the backup plan for restaurants limited by beer and wine licenses, session cocktails—or low-proof libations—have broken out as a trend all their own. Perhaps thanks in part to the spread of amaro, vermouth, and sherry, low-alcohol drinks are hitting bar menus across the country, serving as the middle ground between mocktail and cocktail. Below, 22 mildly spirited cocktails on offer, now! READ MORE

10 Winter Ciders for You to Cozy Up To

It’s that time of year again, the weather is getting colder, stores are playing holiday music, onesie pajamas are socially acceptable to wear, and you find yourself in need of something to drink while sitting by the fire. This list of 10 delicious winter ciders is sure to keep you warm and your taste buds happy all the way to spring: READ MORE…

The Midwest’s best craft cider makers

When it comes to American craft cider, sometimes it seems like New England and the Pacific Northwest get all the attention. But as Mike Beck — president of the United States Association of Cider Makers and treasurer of the Great Lakes Cider & Perry Association, not to mention cider maker at Michigan’s Uncle John’s Cider Mill — points out, the Great Lakes region is actually home to the nation’s most diverse apple crop. READ MORE…

Beer Beat: Vander Mill Cider & more

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) – In today’s Beer Beat, Grand Rapids Business Journal & Grand Rapids Magazine Beer Writer Pat Evans introduces us to the new Vander Mill Cider facility setting up at 505 Ball Street NE in Grand Rapids. It will include an indoor patio and restaurant, as well. READ MORE…

Justin Large Leaves One-Off Hospitality for Vander Mill Cider

One Off Hospitality’s Justin Large, who worked his way up from sous chef at Avec to oversee projects like the opening of Nico Osteria and Dove’s Lunceonette, will leave his position as director of hospitality to head the culinary program at Vander Mill Cider. Large will overhaul the cider-driven food menu at the Spring Lake, Michigan tasting room and open the company’s new restaurant in Grand Rapids, READ MORE…


Grand Rapids, MI, October 8, 2015– Vander Mill has hired a true culinary pedigree Justin Large as the Chef and Culinary Director for its Spring Lake and upcoming Grand Rapids restaurant.

After fifteen years working as a Chef and Culinary Director in several of Chicago’s James Beard award winning restaurants, Chef Justin Large is joining the Vander Mill team.  Justin is thrilled to be a part of the growing West Michigan culinary scene, and is excited to join a brand that champions many of the great products Michigan has to offer.  Justin plans on crafting a menu that highlights local and regional products, as well as creates a platform to display cider’s culinary versatility.

I am excited to have Justin as a part of our team.  We can’t wait to showcase the combination of high quality ciders, food, and hospitality.  – Paul Vander Heide (Owner at Vander Mill)

Before his career in restaurants, Large spent his youth in both Massachusetts and Florida.  He obtained degrees in global business management and economics at the University of Florida. Though a business degree was his focus, food was his passion.

In 1999 he joined the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY.  Upon completion, Large accepted an internship at Paul Kahan’s Blackbird in Chicago.  This evolved into holding various leadership positions within the esteemed restaurant group, One Off Hospitality, including working as Sous Chef at Avec, Consulting Chef at The Violet Hour, Tournant for The Publican, and opening Chef de Cuisine at Big Star. Large was promoted to Director of Culinary Operations for One Off Hospitality in 2013.  During his tenure as Culinary Director, Justin was a key member of the opening team at Nico Osteria and Dove’s Luncheonette, which was recently nominated by bon appétit for best new restaurant of 2015.

Justin has appeared on Food Network’s Iron Chef, on No Reservations with Anthony Bourdain, and has led cooking demonstrations at the Taste of Chicago and for the children in Chicago’s public schools.

“I’m beyond excited to be a part of a company that produces an incredible product, and is building a great brand.  My goal is to make sure the food I create enhances the Vander Mill experience.” – Justin Large

Justin enjoys spending time with his wife Molly and son Auden, is an avid bike enthusiast, and of course, enjoys drinking Vander Mill Cider.

Vander Mill

With humble beginnings in 2006 as a traditional cider mill, Vander Mill began distributing their hard cider in 2008.  After expanding their facility in Spring Lake in 2013, Vander Mill is now distributing their hard cider varieties in convenience and grocery stores, bars, and restaurants throughout Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Ohio.  Currently Vander Mill is working on their largest expansion yet with the renovation of a 40,000sf production facility and restaurant in Grand Rapids, MI.

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If you would like more information about this topic, please contact Amy Atkinson at 231-759-3160 or email at


Grey skies and cooler temperatures couldn’t dampen the spirits of attendees at this year’s Vander Fest, the yearly celebration hosted by Michigan’s highest volume cidery, Vander Mill of Spring Lake.

The festival takes place in early October and was conceived as a celebration of the cidery’s success in this up-and-coming industry.

“One of our founders, Paul Vander Heide, wanted to find a way to celebrate the success of their business with their friends and fans, and that’s what Vander Fest is,” says Alexa Seychel, one of Vander Mill’s enthusiastic sales team, self-named “cider slingers.” Festival guests were treated to local food truck options The Standard Pizza Company and GBQ BBQ, as well as burgers and brats from Spring Lake’s own Top Butcher Shoppe.

As Vander Mill’s success has grown, so has the event. This year featured many of the state’s other top cideries, including.. READ MORE

How It’s Made: A Tour of Vander Mill Cider Co.

In 2006, Vander Mill opened in Spring Lake, Michigan about three hours from Chicago. With 80 percent of Michigan’s apples growing in close proximity to the facility, Paul Vander Heide and his co-founders, were able to create some of the most delicious, unpasteurized fresh cider around. The family-owned facility started with the humble goal of sharing pressed apple cider and donuts with their neighbors. After two successful years, curiosity and passion led Paul to produce a hard cider that they now distribute all over the Midwest. READ MORE…

Celebrate Craft Beer and Cider at Vander Fest 2015

With Labor Day behind us and school back in session, many Michiganders are clinging to the last signs of summer and not so secretly hoping Mother Nature holds off on blasting us with snow flakes long enough to enjoy one of Michigan’s prettiest seasons: FALL.

Although summer is usually when we spend most our time outdoors, early fall is not to be discredited. The Mitten turns into a myriad of brightly colored scarlet hues and offers a whole new list of season must-dos: visits to the pumpkin patch, apple picking, sampling seasonal brews, and fresh cider donuts from the mill.


Bob Egan | Illinois Account Representative/Cider Slinger, Vander Mill Cider Co.

Bob Egan may be the funniest guy in Chicago beer. I probably spent more time during our interview laughing than asking any meaningful questions. He also loves Vander Mill. Before the recorder was even switched on, we were talking about the cider making process, the future of the category and whether or not the cider scene will ever look like the beer scene does now. We got to our five questions over Vander Mill ciders at one of Bob’s favorite spots, Skylark.


I’m drinking Vander Mill hard apple Cider. All Michigan apples. Semi-sweet dry cider. It’s definitely not that sweet cider that will give you a stomach ache and make your teeth hurt. It’s very lightly back-sweetened. We’ve got a press that I’m pretty sure has German U-boat parts in it… it doesn’t break.

As far as apples go, this is primarily Jonathan, Golden delicious apples and kind of dealers choice after that, like Gala, Ida, Macintosh and Northern Spy. At the end of the day, cider is just fermented juice so what we’re doing is very close to wine making.


Craft beverage producers wrestle with federal product definitions, labeling requirements

Imagine spending time and resources to develop a product only to find out that you won’t be able to describe it on the label in a way you think best resonates with consumers.

That happened recently for Maciej Halaczkiewicz, president of Grand Rapids-based Arktos Meadery LLC, a startup producer of fermented honey-based craft beverages.

When he submitted a proposed label for Arktos’ Cricket Song mead to the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau (TTB), a division of the U.S. Department of the Treasury that governs the labeling of many alcoholic beverages, the agency told him he could not describe it as a “coffee-based mead” because of the way it was produced.

“Now when someone looks at my bottle they’re not going to have any idea they’re looking at a coffee mead,” Halaczkiewicz said.

The label for Cricket Song could only mention coffee in the product description. The product is labeled as a metheglin, an archaic term for meads that contain herbs, and is described as a “honey lemon strawberry wine with coffee added [and] aged in oak barrels for 3 months.”

To Halaczkiewicz, the TTB’s outdated labeling rules


Vander Mill Cidery In Spring Lake Hosts 2nd Annual SOWco De Mayo Celebration

What a better way to celebrate spring than with a pig roast? Vander Mill did just that for their 2nd year in a row, hosting their now annual SOWco De Mayo Spring celebration on their recently opened outdoor deck equipped with a stage for entertainment and of course, plenty of food and cider. As last year, the event was preceded by an underground whole pig burial roasting outside the mill and featured an all-you-can-eat fresh roasted pork taco and sandwich bar.
$15 was the cost of admission to the outside deck which included live music and access to the buffet. 4 specialty ciders were also available including the delicious dry-hopped Mango Citra. This year’s entertainment was provided by the Nashville based duo of Channing and Quinn who have been making the rounds in Michigan and will also be performing at New Holland Brewing Co. on Friday, June 26th. Hopcat in Grand Rapids also hosted their own third annual Vander Mill pig roast out on their patio this year as well.

Can’t get enough of Vander Mill hard cider? The great news for this year is that Vander Mill is in the process of opening an expanded production facility and taproom in the Grand Rapids area. The plans…


Vandermill opening G.R. cider mill

GRAND RAPIDS (WZZM) — Grand Rapids has plenty of breweries and brewpubs, and is getting distilleries. Now a new alcoholic cider mill has plans to expand here.

Vandermill, LLC, which operates a cider making facility in Spring Lake, plans to turn a former beer distribution site into a large cider making and serving location.

Vandermill Tuesday won city commission support for tax incentives for the project.

City commissioner Rosalynn Bliss told WZZM 13: “They have a well established product; they’re very well respected, they have a great product and so having that addition to Grand Rapids I think is really a great thing.”


Hard cider makers medal at international competition

One of the world’s largest hard cider competitions took place in Grand Rapids last weekend.

Several hard cider makers from the region scored big, taking home several medals at the 10th-annual Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition, or GLINTCAP.

The competition took place at the Downtown Courtyard by Marriott, with an awards party Sunday night at The Pyramid Scheme.

With a record number of entries from across the globe, GLINTCAP is said to be the world’s largest cider and perry, or pear cider, competition. England’s Royal Bath and West Show likely could regain its title as it opens up to North American entries.

Commercial division

There were 480 entries into the commercial division, with 413 medals awarded.

Both of the ciders by Farmhaus Cider Co. in Hudsonville took home bronze in the new world cider-modern category.

Gunga Din by St. Julian Winery in Paw Paw won bronze in new world cider-modern. Gunga Din Cherry won silver in the fruit cider category. Gunga Din Cinnamon won bronze in spiced cider.

Robinette’s Cellars in Grand Rapids won bronze in the three categories: applewine, hopped/herbal cider and ice cider.

Sietsema Cider

Sietsema’s Cider in Ada performed well. Red Label and Sietsema’s Traditional Dry won bronze in the new world cider-modern category.

Sietsema’s Hopped Cider won bronze in the hopped/herbal category.

Its Lemongrass won gold in hopped/herbal category, and BackWoods Cider won bronze in the wood-aged cider category.

Virtue Cider

Virtue Cider in Fennville took home a bronze and a silver in the new world cider-heritage category.

The cider maker’s flagship, Ledbury, won silver for English cider.

The company’s Spanish cider, Sidra de Nava, won silver in the Spanish cider category.

Virtue’s Lapinette Cidre Brut and The Mitten won bronze in wood-aged cider and perry.

Vander Mill

Vander Mill in Spring Lake won a bronze for Ashmead’s Kernel in the new world cider-heritage category.

Chapman’s Blend won silver in wood-aged cider and perry.


7 Innovative American Ciders You Have To Drink Now

Hard cider is no stranger to this country.

History is flooded with mentions of the golden juice. Colonial Americans trusted cider above drinking water and even the founding fathers quaffed startling amounts on a daily basis.

Despite its decline in the 19th century and the ever-surging tidal wave of craft beer in America, cider now continues to make gains in popularity thanks to a modern atmosphere of experimentation. What’s old is new again, and cider is no exception.

What makes cider so exciting? Perhaps it’s the endless ways in which the humble apple can be transformed. Sweet or dry; still or sparkling; bittersweet or bittersharp, today’s ciders run wild with possibility. Many craft ciders display characteristics similar to beer, utilizing techniques like dry-hopping and barrel-aging, but also boast gluten-free benefits. With the opportunity for experimentation constantly expanding, American cider makers are testing the core possibilities of the apple. Now it’s time to taste some of the exhilarating results, from barbecue-smoked batches to wild-fermented sparklers.

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Totally Roasted
ABV: 6.8%
Hails from: Spring Lake, Michigan
Toasted pecans. Cinnamon. Vanilla. These ingredients could be the building blocks of a sugar-shellacked pie, but for Vander Mill, they’re the components of a winning cider. More than four pounds of cinnamon-roasted pecans flavor each batch of Totally Roasted cider, adding full-bodied texture and nutty depth. Yet the aroma of fresh apple still shines through, giving the cider a crispness that balances the undertones of sweet vanilla and pecans. Totally Roasted was originally served in 750mL bottles, but Vander Mill switched to cans for customer ease when the cider quickly proved itself a core product. View full article >

Grand Rapids Cider Week crafts name for statewide industry

A Michigan-made hard cider competition that’s said to be the world’s largest will be the featured event during Grand Rapids Cider Week this month.

The Great Lakes International Cider & Perry Competition, or GLINTCAP, will celebrate its 10th year on April 10-12, and the newly formed Michigan Cider Association wants people to know about, said GLINTCAP Director Eric West.

The association wants to “capitalize on cider in Michigan the way Denver has with the Great American Beer Festival,” West said.

“It’s just following that model,” he said. “The competition anchors the week, and we worked with the association to get some outward-facing events to help make it more of a happening event.”

The scene

Michigan is a large hard cider producer and ranks near the top with the Pacific Northwest, Colorado and New York.

As far as apples are concerned, Michigan ranks No. 3, just behind New York and Washington.

To help drive awareness of the industry and help with regulatory concerns, the Michigan Cider Association was formed by a group of cider makers from Spring Lake’s Vander Mill, Suttons Bay’s Tandem Ciders and Ada’s Sietsema Cider.

The Grand Rapids area is home to several cider makers along with Sietsema, such as People’s Cider Co. and Hudsonville’s Farmhaus Cider. Vander Mill also announced a major expansion with a Grand Rapids facility. View full article >