Far from the Tree Dreams Up Four Lovecraft-Inspired Ciders for October
October is Salem’s month, and the city’s new, hard cider taproom, Far from the Tree, is marking the occasion with four fantastical fermentations inspired by the works of New England horror author, H.P. Lovecraft.
Narragansett Brewing is also paying homage to the Providence, Rhode Island-born author this year by naming booze after his works, most recently launching the Reanimator Helles Lager. Far from the Tree cider maker Erik Pudas is aware of the Lovecraft beers, and he acknowledged Salem has other creepy connections he and his team could have drawn from for their October ciders. But the Portsmouth, Rhode Island, native felt strongly about crafting the Lovecraft line for several reasons.
“There is a pretty strong connection with Lovecraft and the North Shore,” Pudas said. “A lot of his stories were based in this area of Massachusetts. He mentions Salem a lot, and a lot of his fictional towns are thought to be based on towns in this area—Marblehead, Salem, Gloucester. I’m from Rhode Island originally, so I have strong affinity for Lovecraft. And you’ve seen the artwork, right?” he asked, referring to pen-and-ink drawings, including one of perhaps Lovecraft’s most infamous monster, the malevolent deity Cthulhu. “That was [Paul Carrick], who originally did [Far from the Tree’s] logo. He has done a lot of Lovecraft artwork over the years for various things. We wanted to collaborate with him [again], and this was right in his wheelhouse.”
Pudas, fellow cider maker Noel McInnes and Far from the Tree’s cofounder Al Snape chose the novella “The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath,” the sonnet series “Fungi from Yuggoth,” and characters Azathoth and Cthulhu to inspire the four beverages. They made less than a barrel of each blend, for limited release at the taproom only each Friday this month. When the kegs kick, likely the night the cider debuts, it’s gone, until Friday, October 30, when all four will make a reappearance during a to-be-finalized Halloween party.
Last week, the purply, vegetal Kadath made its debut. “‘The Dream-Quest of Unknown Kadath’ [story] is a dream that [the protagonist] goes through. [The cider] had a bunch of herbs that are traditionally used to help you sleep, and also hops,” another herbal sleep remedy. “We added purple carrot juice to change to the color, because purple is a predominant dream color.”
Tonight—as long as it lasts— there’s Yuggoth, a dry, earthy cider made with four different fungi, including black truffle juice. Sound otherworldly? It’s namesake is a planet on the far reaches of the universe, the native land of fungoid extraterrestrials from the depths of Lovecraft’s mind.
Next week, they’ll tap Azathoth, named for one of Lovecraft’s weird demons. “He is kind of like the embodiment of madness,” Pudas explained. “That’s a scotch bonnet and gooseberry cider. We tried to go as crazy as possible on that one, but we’re not trying to blow anybody’s palates out of the water,” he said.
Scotch bonnet peppers can be 100 times hotter than jalapeños, but “behind the heat, they have a lot of flavor,” Pudas said. “You get some fruity, sweet pepper flavors. It’s a subtle heat, a creeping heat. If you drink a full pint of it, your mouth will be tingling by the end of it.”
The end result is a fruity, hot, sour, and sweet drink, Pudas said. “This is actually my favorite one so far.”
And finally, for the October 30 event, Cthulhu Ink will fill tasting glasses with a cider colored nearly jet-black by squid ink. With seaweed and aromatics including liquorice, “it’s a little salty [and] savory, then [there’s] a big hint of liquorice and dark herbs at the end.”
Far from the Tree, which has bottled ciders like Roots, Rind and Sprig for distribution for more than a year, just opened up its 50-person taproom in August. Seasonal specials, like Spice, with fresh ginger, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, sea salt, and molasses, rotate among the seven drafts, but the Lovecraft project is the most over-the-top project Far from the Tree has done yet.
“It’s really fun to come up with something as crazy as you can once in a while,” Pudas said.
It’s kind of like putting on a Halloween costume.
Far from the Tree Cider, 108 Jackson Street, Salem; 978-224-2904, farfromthetreecider.com.