Local Cidery Snapshot: Stafford Cidery, Home of Crazy Cock Cider

Local Cidery Snapshot: Stafford Cidery, Home of Crazy Cock Cider

Much like it’s locational namesake, Stafford Cidery exudes the feeling of a small, warm community. Upon entering, you may wonder if you’re in a coffee shop rather than a cidery. The wide-open tasting room is appointed with local art. An eclectic mix of rooster paraphernalia looks down on you from all angles. Walking up to the elegant bar (made from repurposed wood of the old building), the smiling, knowledgeable staff airly take questions and direct your tastes to one (or a few) of the 11 – 16 ciders on tap that may be to your liking. The pay off to this welcoming reception is a mix of great ciders, each with a varying taste profile and flavor notes. Before we get there, though, let’s talk about the story behind this warm & fuzzy cider brand!

Stafford Cidery Taproom Seating
A view of half the taproom.

The Stafford Cidery Story

The hospitable vibe made sense upon first talking to co-founder and owner Jodi Harmon. Jodi (and her husband, Dan Tomlin) opened the cidery in 2017. Coming from Washington, DC, Jodi and Dan both wanted to move somewhere that was more quiet and rural. They opened the cidery in Stafford Springs in particular because Jodi had grown up in the area, and they wanted to open a business that reflected the sleepy friendliness of the small New England town. Their vision for Stafford Cidery was a fun hub of the community. They feature (commission-free) local art, host numerous local activities a week, use local coffee in one of their ciders (it’s good, trust me), and even have worked out deals with local restaurants to deliver food to patrons at the cidery, even when those places normally don’t deliver! 

Though the cider craze is fairly new (and still growing strong), Jodi and Dan didn’t jump onto the bandwagon. No, they started making cider out of necessity! According to Jodi, after experiencing some career setbacks in DC, the couple moved back to CT to look for work. During this time, they learned to make cider to save money and work with some of the local produce. As it turns out, they had a knack for it. Within a short time, friends and family were clamoring for more cider from the couple. Soon it dawned on them that they could have a real business here. Enjoying the connection to the local area and enjoying how cider was something different, Jodi and Dan put plans in motion to open up their own cidery in the early 2010s. 

Jodi at Stafford Cidery
Jodi behind the bar

Branding and the Future

Though the taproom is official “Stafford Cidery,” the line of cider is coined “Crazy Cock Cider.” Let’s unpack this. The name for the cider line came from a rooster that lived on the couple’s land. Dan called this little guy (you guessed it) the Crazy Cock. This was around the time Dan and Jodi were getting serious into making cider. The name, then, is a testament to that time and to the sort of old New England charm that makes the brand special. Now if restaurants find “Crazy Cock” to be a little too “whimsical,” they can safely just say the product is from Stafford Cidery. 

Also, Jodi told me that they wanted to leave themselves room to expand. With thoughts of mead and other beverages on the horizon, keeping brands separate will allow the couple to roll out new lines under their own banner. Mead and possibly a perry (pear cider) are on the horizon so far. In other “new project” news, they have also started canning! They currently distribute three cans and are looking to produce more as time goes by.

Cans of Crazy Cock Cider
Cans of Crazy Cock Cider

Thoughts on the Cider

Speaking of beverages, Stafford Spring’s Cidery has a lot. Boasting 11 varieties on as of now and 16 taps total, the cidery has plenty of room for Dan and Jodi’s wild ideas. Their most popular is the original recipe they hammered out: the Sweet Vanilla. This cider is semi-dry, with a mellow vanilla-bean sweetness throughout. The mix of flavors makes a uniquely drinkable cider that toes the line between dry and sweet. Besides this, Jodi and Dan make sure that Crazy Cock is eclectic. From tea-based, spicy, coffee, and fruit ciders, they always want to come up with unique (but balanced and enjoyable) ciders for all seasons. For the winter, they just put on a rose-hip infused cider and a peach cider. Coming soon is their “Warm and Fuzzy,” a winter variety made with cinnamon and other spices made to take the chill out of the cold weather. 

Final Thoughts

Stafford Springs Cidery is special, according to Jodi, because of the inviting atmosphere that the whole brand is based around. From the big, warm taproom to the 11 ciders on tap, Jodi wants to make sure that there’s something for everyone. They want people to see that there is a cider for all tastes. They even brew a hopped cider that has proven very big with the beer crowd.

A sitting area at the taproom.
A cute sitting area at the taproom.

To prove their point, Jodi cheerfully pointed out a handful of mug club “Flock” members who came to the cidery as staunch beer drinkers. After a few months, they are now self-avowed cider fans. This desire to connect with the customer and work with the overall community is overt and authentic. Upon walking in, you feel like you’re part of a community; heck, after the interview, I was even invited to stay for dinner at the nearby house of one of the Flock members! It doesn’t get much more “small-town charm” than that! 

I know that Stafford Springs may be a hike for many, but I can’t encourage you enough to check it out. If the distance really gives you pause, make a day of it! I guarantee there will be no less than four breweries between you and Stafford Springs, which sounds like a damn good way to spend the day for me. I want to thank Jodi and her staff (and that one guy at the bar) for all their hospitality. If you want to learn more about their brand, check them out on Instagram and Facebook. If you think there’s a place I should check out, drop me a line here. Then follow me on Instagram and Facebook. Until next time, I’ll see you where the pints live. Cheers!