Nested in the rolling hills of northern Baltimore County Maryland, Millstone Cellars makes for an excellent day trip and musing while enjoying well crafted ciders, meads and cysers.
In October 2016, my family and I visited Millstone Cellars in Monkton, MD, north of Baltimore. With the beautiful fall weather beaconing we needed a road trip and Millstone had been on my mind for some months. I had heard their story at least a couple of times from various beer podcasts I listen to regularly. I later asked them about some of these interviews and here are two: Beer Sessions Radio (08.23.16) and Cider Chat
It was A Beautiful Day
It was a beautiful day with perfect weather for a ride in the country. My son and his wife were seeking a road trip and I'd mentioned my desire to get to Millstone at some point. It was decided, and we were off for a ride in the country. Monkton is just north of Baltimore MD with roaming fields and forests, horse farms and new and old towns and buildings. The Millstone building is an old mill, as you would expect, that had been purchased by the family some years ago. Wondering what to do with this grant old stone mill, someone decided to make ciders would be a good idea.
While the mill has been renovated, it still needs some work but that even added to the ambiance. Still, it is grand building and has its own story to tell. Their website offers a study on The Water Mills in Monkton if you are interested in the history of the mill.
We decided to take in the guided tour of the mill and a tasting their ciders. I don't know much about the creation of ciders but do love the way wood works it's way into barrel-aged beers. Barrels were everywhere — in just about every available spot — and for good reason, all of Millstones products are barrel-aged using barrels from a variety of previous lives — bourbon, rum and other spirits.
My interest was peaked when I discovered some of the ingredients they use as curious flavor enhancers, a few of which I learned to identify in dendrology class back in forestry school. Spruce, spicebush berries along with more common grocery store supplies like ginger, rhubarb, raspberries and some familiar beer staples — hops.
As you walk through the mill, you notice the barrels were marked with chalk-inscribed notes of its contents and all-important dates. The sunlight played across the floor and walls of stone, wood and plaster. Various works from local artists were displayed throughout added to the playful nature of the old mill. At the end of our tour we were invited to their tasting table. Some of their ciders and meads were available for testing — some not, adding to our curiosity. I have tasted spruce tip beers before and enjoyed some, particularly the Dogfish Head Pennsylvania Tuxedo. We didn't get to taste their spruce infused mead so as a birthday gift we purchased a bottle and walked off to their back room to further enjoy our bottle, the views, warming sun and great company. Off to the side of the main mill structure, they have added portions of another rustic building, with open sides for taking in the landscape. A few couples were enjoying the tasting room, making me think this was a regular resbit for local fans. As a beer aficionado, I had to grab the hop infused cider to take home for future exploration — merely research mind you. All of their bottles come in clear 750 ml glass with a wax sealed swing top. A classy touch for these well crafted concoctions.
The day waned and our hunger grew. Asking about local dinner options, our tour guide recommended The Manor Tavern. If you do get to Millstone Cellars and are looking for a fine meal afterwards, it is highly recommended. A road trip to Millstone Cellars is a great way to spend an afternoon. The road getting there is half the fun. The ciders and meads, the old mill all work together in crafting a synergistic experience.