Bhavna, Shaan, and I recently had two disparate experiences at Burnt Mills Cider in Bedminster, Somerset County. Our first trip on a weekend in the summer of 2022 was enjoyable, encouraging us to plan another visit. As residents of Somerset County, we wanted to support our local businesses. We left home in Montgomery Township around 5:15 PM on a workday this time, driving north for an hour to reach the cidery around 6:15 PM. Our goal? To sip cider and munch on goodies from the Veganish food truck. But, as life often reminds us, things don't always go according to plan.
Upon arrival, we faced our first challenge: a packed, dimly lit, unpaved, and uneven parking area. It took a lot of work to navigate the potholes and bumps in the parking lot to find parking. We found a parking spot near the entrance, far from the tap room. Armed with our iPhones as torches, we reached the taproom.
We got to the taproom and realised there was no food truck. I understand this isn't Burnt Mills Cidery's fault, but they must work with reliable food truck vendors. We thought about ordering delivery from one of the nearby restaurants, but we expected it would be at least a 30-minute wait, and we were hungry.
Inside, the small tap room was packed. We could hardly hear ourselves discussing what to do next. We had just driven almost an hour, and based on how filled the small tap room looked, we expected a shitty experience. We did not relish the experience of standing around drinking while shouting over the din. The outdoor space was available. It was cold outside, even with winter coats. Sitting outside drinking cider while inhaling smoke from a firepit was not the experience we wanted.
Inside, the tiny taproom was buzzing with people, making it hard to think, let alone chat. Faced with the prospect of a less-than-appealing experience, we made a call. Instead of braving the crowded space or the cold outdoors next to a smoky firepit, we decided to head to Flounder Brewing, grabbing pizza en route. It was a great decision – Flounder's spacious taproom and heated outdoor area offered a comfortable and relaxing evening.
But we weren't ready to give up on Burnt Mills Cider yet! Determined to give the cidery a chance, we planned a daytime visit. We pre-ordered pizza from Bedminster Pizza this time and arrived early on a Saturday. What a difference!
The welcoming staff clustered behind the small taproom. As we ate pizza, we explored a variety of cider flavours. Bhavna and Shaan each enjoyed a flight: Shaan's included Fall Spice, Blackcurrant, Cider Donut, and The Hunt, while Bhavna's featured Fall Spice, Jersey Peach, Cider Donut, and The Hunt. My picks? I enjoyed half pours of the "Semi-Dry" and "Hops. I was disappointed that the "Sparkling Dry" was, so I had a half-pour of Blackcurrant. Shaan was delighted by the "Cider Donut" cider, which she said tasted like cider doughnuts. The jam-like qualities of the Black Currant were a shared favourite. We ended our visit just as the crowd began to get larger, bringing home cans of "Semi-Dry," "Hops," and "Black Currant,"
My problem with Burnt Mills Cider cider is that the tap room needs to be bigger to accommodate the number of people arriving in the cars that fill the large parking area. To a first-time visitor, the parking area suggests a large tap room. Once the tap room gets packed, ordering cider becomes problematic. The recipe for a good experience is to visit on the weekend, arrive as close to opening as possible, and pre-order your food for delivery or pickup.