2020 is here and with it the start of this year’s cider season in the Basque Country. There is no point in sticking to your new year’s resolutions just yet (unless these are to eat and drink more), as this month marks the start of the 2020 Basque Cider Season.
For those of you who don’t know, the Basque Country has a very strong tradition dating hundreds of years surrounding apple cider, and as a way to commemorate this tradition, the cider houses spread around the Basque Region open their doors during this time of the year and invite people to try their fresh new cider. A visit to a Basque Cider House, especially during cider season, is accompanied by a full traditional menu consisting of: cod omelette, fried cod with green peppers and onions, bone-in rib-eye steak, cheese with quince and walnuts, and, of course, self-serve cider directly from the barrels. It is, most definitely, a very folkloric and incredibly fun experience.
The cider houses in Astigarraga and Hernani are getting ready to tap their barrels and offer a taste of their new cider to thousands of sagardozales (cider fans) at the yell of “txootx!”. You can certainly enjoy a Cider House Experience throughout the entire year, but the “official” season runs from mid-January through April. It is only during this period that the doors of nearly 40 cider houses located in these two towns are fully open to the public. This year, the Txotx Opening Ceremony will be held on the 15th of January at Alorrenea Sagardotegia and the first sip of the new cider will be tasted by the Basque singer Izaro.
This family-run cider house opened its doors in 2001, and the quality of the cider and the rib-eye steak that they serve can be considered one of the best. The owners have always been linked to the world of cider and they are expert cider makers. Nowadays, they have the support of their son at the charcoal grill, and if you visit Alorrenea, you will probably find him behind a mountain of raw rib-eye steaks grilling non-stop.
The Association of Natural Cider, located in the Province of Gipuzkoa, has stated that during the 2019 harvest, 12.2 million liters of cider were produced in the whole Basque Country. From those, 11.3 million liters were produced solely in Gipuzkoa. They have rated this year’s cider with the following properties: intense aromas, full bodied, and with a 6%, in average, alcohol content.
So, if you are in the Basque Country, don’t hesitate to join us from San Sebastian to head to any of the cider houses located just a short 10-minute ride from the city. You will be guided from barrel to barrel by the cider master and bask with locals in a traditional Basque cider house experience.