Category Archives: Blog

To our loyal Spring Lake customers

It is with mixed emotions that we are announcing the sale of our original facility in Spring Lake. This Fall will be our 15th and final season at this location. Amanda and I started Vander Mill in 2006 after more than a year of preparation and while expecting our first child. The goal was to create a family-friendly retail environment that focused on the bounty of Michigan apples. We sought to provide the quintessential fall experience by serving our customers all that makes it special. We produced apple cider, fudge, candied nuts, caramel apples, and donuts…ohh the donuts. It was not uncommon to see me driving our old tractor with the barrel train diligently following behind, full of happy children as their parents took a needed reprieve from their rearing duties. Sometimes the train was even empty while I rode alone in hopes of catching the attention of a potential customer driving by.

Read the full update here.

Wait….Aren’t you just a cider place?

 

Well, the very simple answer is NO! It is true, we are well known for our world class ciders made at our facility in Grand Rapids.  We use the best fruit in the world, grown right here in West Michigan. In fact, at both locations you can try more different types of cider than you even knew existed.  From completely dry to sweet, ciders with other Michigan fruit like raspberries and blueberries or you can try one of our many spiced ciders like Totally Roasted, Ginger Zero or Rosé.  We would love to help you find the one you like.  You might just be a “cider person” after all! 

If you prefer to go down a road well traveled, we have you covered!  We are also a licensed Micro Brewery.  We have a rich, hop forward American IPA on draft that is made right here in our facility.  If your palate prefers something lighter, we have a crisp and full bodied pilsner.  Have you ever had a “Snakebite”?  No, not the kind you might get when hiking down a trail and stumbling upon a slithering reptile.  A Snakebite at Vander Mill is made with half pilsner and half cider of your choice.  Get creative and make a fruit beer by adding Cherry Chuckle (cherry cider).  Or, make it crushable by simply choosing to blend with our classic Hard Apple cider. The combinations are infinite.

Still not tempted?  Well, let me introduce a new brand to you: Full Bar.  We manufacture a line of canned spirits and mixers that you can enjoy on premise, or take home.  Take in a hot summer day with a Classic Margarita, Gin and Tonic, Vodka Soda, or another one of our cider based cocktails.  Either way, we have you covered!

-Paul

Cider Taster
Vander Mill

What is the safest way to dine out? We think that we have the answer.

 

I was having a conversation with a friend recently regarding how much our lives and habits have changed since COVID-19.  Alden said it best when relating people and their behavior to that of someone with a recent concussion.  Certainly the intent is not to make light of a serious injury, but rather to describe the  confusion we all seem to have when engaging each other after being quarantined for such a long time.  How does my mask look?  Should I shake your hand? Is a fist bump okay?  Or STAY AWAY!  We all have our own disposition as it relates to these very common social situations.  When visiting Vander Mill we think we have a way to give everyone the comfort they need to enjoy going out, being social, and also safe. Here are a few ways we think that you will feel safe during your visit. 

Big outdoor space keeps you safe! You simply HAVE to visit our outdoor patios.  In Grand Rapids our patio is lined with young apple trees and green grass, you will never know you are near the heart of the city.  We have picnic tables, benches around our fire pit and soft seating well spaced for your comfort.  Have a couple of seats under the apple trees (if you are lucky enough to snag one of the two Adirondack chairs hidden away).  If you are in Spring Lake, you will enjoy an acre of openness in the shade or in the sun in which to enjoy yourself.  Order online https://vandermill.com/shop/  for your food.  Head over to the pickup window or the bar to place your drink order. Please keep a safe distance from other customers.

VMGR PATIO

VMSL CIDER PARK

Limited Contact Service Available.  If you prefer not to have a server come to your table as frequently, you are welcome to order online while indoors or outdoors.  We will bring your food to you when it is ready.  Again, simply place your order online through our website, sit back and enjoy!  https://vandermill.com/shop/

Sanitization.  We know a thing or two about sanitizing.    After being in food and beverage production for almost 15 years we have all the knowledge and resources to keep contact surfaces clean and safe.  Our staff will be regularly wiping down contact surfaces between customers for your health and safety.  Good food manufacturing practices are essential to the high quality and safe production of all our products.  We also have hand sanitizer available if you would like further assurance during your visit.

Good Practice.  Our staff is equipped with face coverings while serving you to limit any exposure of bacteria and virus to both you and our fellow staff members. We also always wear gloves when handling food items per our usual practice, and wash our hands between use and otherwise frequently.  

We hope that the above will help you make a decision to come in and join us in celebrating the bounty of Michigan agricultural products.  Our ciders, beer and spirits are manufactured right here in our facility.  We use ingredients that are high quality and locally procured, when available, in an effort to support our community.  Please come and let us tell you more about our business!

-Paul

Cider Taster
Vander Mill

What COVID procedures to expect when visiting Vander Mill.

 

Going out for dinner and or drinks has changed for all of us due to COVID-19.  At Vander Mill we strive to give our customers the best experience while enjoying great food, cider, beer, cocktails, and most importantly, great company!  We would like to outline a few of these changes so you know what to expect when visiting us, hopefully in the near future!

What to expect from us, and what we expect from you.

  1. Please come in!  We have posted signs that our customers are required by the state of Michigan to wear masks when entering the building, walking to your seat, and when you get up to leave your seat.  If you don’t have a mask, please let us know and we will provide one for you.  If you are unable to wear a mask, we will not refuse service.  
  2. We offer two choices for service to give you options when visiting us:  Full service – A server will greet you and attend to all your needs during your visit.  Our servers will be wearing masks as required by the State. Limited service – When seated, simply tell us that you do NOT prefer table service.  You will be provided with instructions to place your food order through our website.  For beverage service, simply walk up to the bar with distance from other customers and place your drink order with the bartender.  Your food will be delivered to your table.
  3. Contact surfaces are cleaned and sanitized in between customers, per our usual practice.
  4. All of our staff are required to notify us if they are not feeling well and are instructed not to come to work.  This is a typical practice for the restaurant industry, even before COVID-19.

We hope you will come see the new and exciting products we have to offer at Vander Mill.  Our new menu is creative and delicious.  We are a fast and casual restaurant that hopes to teach you something about the great bounty Michigan has to offer and how we represent it in our products.  See you soon!

-Paul

Cider Taster
Vander Mill

10 places that prove Grand Rapids is the craft beverage capital of the U.S.

Grand Rapids has the well-earned nickname “Beer City USA” (its first brewery was established in 1836), but this Midwestern city’s penchant for craft beverage extends far beyond the brew. Michigan’s second largest city has one of the fastest growing economies in the country, with a steady influx of young professionals and entrepreneurs fueling this thirst for all things craft.

From the brewery that helped put Grand Rapids on the craft beer map to kombucha brewed with sound therapy techniques, there’s something to drink no matter your tastes. Here are 10 of the city’s can’t-miss craft beverage producers. READ MORE…

Agriculture Forum: Michigan on tap at CiderCon

CiderCon 2020 hit the streets of Oakland, California, earlier this week.

The country’s annual cider (hard cider) conference hosted more than 1,200 cider makers, suppliers, distributors, juice companies and equipment manufacturers to celebrate and learn about all things cider. This year marks the 10th annual CiderCon, and this show has grown from its humble beginnings in Oregon in 2011, where there were only 40 attendees.

The American Cider Association (ACA) (formerly known as the U.S. Association of Cider Makers) sponsors the event with its executive director and an all volunteer board. Currently, Paul VanderHeide of VanderMill Ciders in Grand Rapids serves as the ACA board president, and Dan Young of Tandem Ciders of Suttons Bay is the Midwest representative. READ MORE…

Beverage Association Names President

A business owner in the area is the new president of a statewide beverage association.

The Michigan Cider Association is now under the leadership of John Behrens, owner of Farmhaus Cider Co. in Hudsonville.

The association’s co-founder, and the owner of Vander Mill in Grand Rapids, Paul Vander Heide, has stepped down after four years as the association’s first president.

The first item on Behrens’ agenda is the annual Grand Rapids Cider Week, which will run from May 13-18.

“Paul and Amanda Vander Heide have done an excellent job creating the Michigan Cider Association from nothing, and we couldn’t be happier to build on the foundation they have built,” Behrens said.

READ MORE…

Craft hard cider adds value, diversity to Michigan’s agricultural community

It wouldn’t be autumn in Michigan without a visit to the apple orchard or cider mill. From caramel apples and apple pies to apple butter and apple cider, there are a number of ways to enjoy the flavors of fall.

Count hard apple cider among them.

Hard cider is made from fermented crushed or juiced fruit, usually apples. Michigan is home to an increasing number of cideries, but many wineries are also taking advantage of the season’s bounty to turn apples into amazing hard cider. Often they grow their own apples, but some utilize local producers to create hard cider.

“Michigan in general is a fantastic place to make cider because we have some of the best apples in the world,” said Paul and Amanda Vander Heide, owners of Vander Mill Cider, in an email.  Click here to read more…

Beer Buzz Vander Mill Totally Roasted Offered at Binny’s

Vander Mill Totally Roasted

6 Pack of 12oz Cans

$9.99

How about a break from beer? Vander Mill uses handmade cinnamon roasted pecans and whole vanilla beans to create this one of a kind hard cider. Sweet spice and vanilla pair perfectly with bright apple notes and the pecans impart some body and a subtle nuttiness on the finish. A perfect partner for any number of harvest dishes, especially sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie.  READ MORE…

Craft hard cider adds value, diversity to Michigan’s agricultural community

It wouldn’t be autumn in Michigan without a visit to the apple orchard or cider mill. From caramel apples and apple pies to apple butter and apple cider, there are a number of ways to enjoy the flavors of fall.

Count hard apple cider among them.

Hard cider is made from fermented crushed or juiced fruit, usually apples. Michigan is home to an increasing number of cideries, but many wineries are also taking advantage of the season’s bounty to turn apples into amazing hard cider. Often they grow their own apples, but some utilize local producers to create hard cider.

“Michigan in general is a fantastic place to make cider because we have some of the best apples in the world,” said Paul and Amanda Vander Heide, owners of Vander Mill Cider, in an email.

As a major apple producer, Michigan has plenty of apples to use in hard cider. According to the Michigan Apple Committee, the state is the third largest producer of apples in the United States, harvesting on average 25.2 million bushels of apples.

These days, many cider mills and wineries are producing their own brand of craft hard cider. READ MORE…

This Is Why Red Delicious Apples Suck So Hard

The Washington Apple Commission describes the Red Delicious on its website as “the world’s favorite snacking apple,” but all schoolchildren who have ever thrown one away know the truth: Red Delicious apples suck.

Bland, sometimes cardboardy in texture and usually covered in wax, they’re still found in gas stations, in bowls at the reception desks of fancy hotels and, yes, in brown bag school lunches. But who likes to eat them?

Not even many growers. Mike Beck, who tends 80 acres of apples at Uncle John’s Cider Mill, admits he grows some Red Delicious to add color to some of his ciders, but he won’t eat them. They’re not among his top 10 snacking apples. Or his top 100.

“They’re not even in my top 2,000 eating apples,” says Beck, who served for 15 years on the Michigan Apple Committee. “It’s not a totally bad apple, but I know, for a lot of growers, it’s not one of the apples they’re saving in their personal cold storage. I can tell you that.”

So why did the Red Delicious become so popular, and why has it come to suck so hard? The answer lies in agricultural and eating history.

The Red Delicious was first called the Hawkeye, and Jesse Hiatt found it growing on his farm in Peru, Iowa, around 1870. “It came up as a seedling in his orchard,” says Charlotte Shelton, the owner of Albemarle Ciderworks and Vintage Virginia Apples. “He dug it up, but it kept coming up. He was Quaker, and he thought that because of its persistence, maybe it deserved to live.” READ MORE

Amy’s Top 10 most-anticipated places for Restaurant Week Grand Rapids 2018

Feeling the Heat: West Michigan restaurant industry grapples with labor shortage

A struggle to find staff willing to work for minimum wage is forcing one pizza shop in Grand Rapids to shift from offering a dine-in option to becoming solely a delivery operation.

Mike Raymond, the owner of Grand Rapids Pizza & Delivery (GRPD) in the city’s Heritage Hill neighborhood, last month decided to close his nearly 15-year-old restaurant to walk-in eaters and take-out customers. Instead, he’s leveraging technology and opting for a delivery-only model using Uber Eats, a third-party delivery service operated by ridesharing company Uber Technologies Inc.

Raymond said the decision largely came about because of the region’s shrinking labor pool, particularly as unemployment hovers at or below 4 percent. By adopting the third-party delivery model, GRPD will be able to shrink its workforce from nearly 20 people at its peak to a skeleton crew of less than five workers, he said. READ MORE…

EXPANDING THE PIE: Council includes broader representation from state’s craft beverage sectors

Council includes broader representation from state’s craft beverage sectors
An update to Michigan law is bringing a more equitable approach to how license fees from craft beverage producers are spent.

On Oct. 1, the Michigan Craft Beverage Council will replace the Grape and Wine Industry Council and expand its membership to also include breweries, cideries and distilleries to reflect the breadth of the state’s craft beverage industry.

The current Grape and Wine Industry Council — which all Michigan-based alcoholic beverage manufacturers support via their annual license fees — focused its efforts on the promotion of the Michigan wine industry and wine grape research. READ MORE…

At its core, West Michigan’s hard cider is a-peel-ing and the industry is fruitful

Cider Week GR is happening now to May 19 in Grand Rapids. The city is also hosting the annual Great Lakes Cider and Perry Competition – the largest competition of its kind in the world, says Paul Vander Heide.

Vander Heide is the owner of Vander Mill LLC of Grand Rapids, which makes more than 250,000 gallons of cider a year to sell in a number of Great Lakes states. Vander Heide is also president of the United States Association of Cider Makers, and he joined Stateside to tell us about the business.  READ MORE…

CIDER WEEK IS IN FULL SWIG

Grand Rapids is celebrating cider this week with Cider Week.

Tap takeovers, cider-and-food pairings at local restaurants and breweries, cider tours, and a festival are all part of the festivities being offered throughout the week.

Over 23 Michigan cideries are participating in the week’s events.

“It’s our goal for Grand Rapids to be known as the top region for hard cider, similar to how Napa Valley, California is for wine,” explained Paul Vander Heide, owner of Vander Mill and president of theU.S. Association of Cider Makers. READ MORE…

Q&A: Paul Vander Heide, Owner of Vander Mill LLC

Vander Mill owner Paul Vander Heide has helped put Michigan cider on the map. The growing Grand Rapids-based hard cider producer makes more than 250,000 gallons a year and sells its portfolio of brands in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. With his election as president of the United States Association of Cider Makers during CiderCon this month, Vander Heide wants to help professionalize and grow the overall opportunity for the diverse cider industry. Over a couple rounds of ciders at Vander Mill’s Grand Rapids taproom, he spoke with MiBiz about the next steps he would like to see for his company, the USACM and the industry as a whole. READ MORE…

Q&A: Paul Vander Heide, Owner of Vander Mill LLC

Vander Mill owner Paul Vander Heide has helped put Michigan cider on the map. The growing Grand Rapids-based hard cider producer makes more than 250,000 gallons a year and sells its portfolio of brands in Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois and Wisconsin. With his election as president of the United States Association of Cider Makers during CiderCon this month, Vander Heide wants to help professionalize and grow the overall opportunity for the diverse cider industry. Over a couple rounds of ciders at Vander Mill’s Grand Rapids taproom, he spoke with MiBiz about the next steps he would like to see for his company, the USACM and the industry as a whole.

The craft cider industry seems like it’s trying to professionalize itself with style guidelines and a new industry certification. What’s behind that effort? 

The cider industry has got a lot of education to do for the consumer, as well as for other service professionals. The Certified Cider Professional program is modeled similarly to what the sommelier and cicerone programs look like. We’re first and foremost trying to educate those frontline service professionals, buyers at beer bars, bartenders, retail staff to try to help use the guidelines that we’ve developed to have everyone speak the same language and do so correctly. We still hear a lot of people in the market use terms like ‘cider beer.’

READ MORE…

Cider Association Elects 2018 Board of Directors Welcomes Paul Vander Heide of Michigan as New President

Portland, OR–The United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM) elects new directors and officers each year at their annual meeting which takes place during CiderCon–the industry conference for USACM members held each February. CiderCon 2018 took place at the Baltimore Waterfront Marriott from January 30 to February 2. At CiderCon last week, USACM welcomed new leaders and thanked those retiring their service for all they have done to support a growing cider industry.

NEW PRESIDENT: Paul Vander Heide of Vander Mill, a cider company based in Grand Rapids, Michigan, has been elected to the office of President for the 2018 USACM Board of Directors. He replaces USACM veteran and cider pioneer, Bruce Nissen of Jester & Judge Cider Company, who ended his board tenure this year after three terms of dedicated service.

Paul has served on the USACM board since February 2016. During that time, he has served as committee chair for USACM’s Certified Cider Professional program, a cider credentials program similar to Cicerone for beer. He was also the sitting Secretary for those two years.  READ MORE…

Ron Funches returns to Laughfest

Gilda’s Laugh Fest continues to expand and draw top talent to Grand Rapids.

This year’s lineup includes Trevor Noah and John Mulaney and features the return of Ron Funches for the eighth community-wide festival.

Fans may recognize Funches from NBC’s “Powerless” and “Undateable” as well as being featured in ABC’s critically acclaimed “Black-Ish.” Funches has also had multiple stand-up performances on TBS’s “Conan O’Brien Show” and NBC’s “The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon.” Funches last appeared at Laugh Fest in 2016.

Funches will be performing at Vander Mill Grand Rapids on March 9 at 7 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at ticketmaster.com when you search “Laughfest,” at the Van Andel Arena & DeVos Box Offices, or by visiting laughfestgr.org. MORE…

Hard cider maker distributing statewide

A local hard cider maker is expanding its partnership with a statewide beverage distributor.

Imperial Beverage will now represent Vander Mill in all counties throughout Michigan.

The cidery has been working with Imperial Beverage since 2013 to distribute its cider to all but two counties in the state. With the new partnership, Vander Mill will now be represented in Oakland and Macomb counties.

“Considering the growing demand for our ciders, we feel there is great opportunity on the east side of the state, especially in Oakland and Macomb counties,” said Paul Vander Heide, owner of Vander Mill. “With Imperial Beverage representing Vander Mill statewide, we will be able to better serve the greater Detroit area.” READ MORE…

The Scoop on the Certified Cider Professional Program

The cider industry has taken a big step forward this year with the release of the Certified Cider Professional (CCP) program. Developed by the United States Association of Cider Makers (USACM), the online program (which includes an exam) is the cider world’s answer to beer’s cicerone and wine’s sommelier.

“We thought it was up to the USACM to help define what cider is and to create a base level of education,” said Paul Vander Heide, the chair of the Certified Cider Professional program committee that created the test.

When the USACM looked at the landscape of cider education, it saw a real opportunity to guide the conversation. The thinking goes that if you can create a baseline knowledge that all cider producers, distributors, retailers and enthusiasts have, that knowledge will help drive the market forward and increase awareness for all cider products. Beyond offering quality products, education is undoubtedly the key to bolstering cider’s reputation and appeal. READ MORE…

VANDER MILL CHEF SERVES UP NEW MENU

Chef Peter Davidson has been overseeing the Vander Mill Grand Rapids kitchen for less than a month, but he is already incorporating some new ideas into the cider-maker’s food menu, with plans for a bigger overhaul later this year.

Davidson said he plans to focus on lighter-fare with bold flavors. “Beet poke is being considered,” he said. “I’m trying a citrus and chili marinated short rib.”

Davidson also plans to add more sandwich options, noting a dearth of lunch options in the area – which has several businesses operating in the vicinity. read more…