In the heart of Hardanger, where tall, rolling mountains meet the blue water of Sørfjorden, a large orchard is bursting with red and golden apples. After seven consecutive generations of traditional farming, the Aga farm has a new lease of life producing fun and fresh ciders.

When Joar Aga took over the family farm in 2018, he found that some of the traditional farm activities didn’t really appeal to him. Having always been interested in good food and drink, he decided to cease milk production and instead try out something new.

“Not long before I took over the farm, I happened to be in Portugal with my partner. We were driving along the Duoro Valley, where we tasted locally made food and wine produced at different vineyards. It was such a magical experience, and I wanted to take the essence of this and apply it to Hardanger,” Joar says.

Aga Sideri: Enjoy the best sips of summer with Aga Sideri

Known internationally for its magnificent natural surroundings, some people might overlook the other great qualities of Hardanger, including its world-class cider scene. With its fertile soil, warm and sunny summers, and the peak location for growing apples with a balanced sweetness and acidity level,

Hardanger is home to many of the country’s best cider producers. Cider from the area is not only a beverage, but is considered to be a piece of Norwegian heritage, even making “Cider from Hardanger” a protected title with strict requirements. “After we started in 2018, it has really kicked off and today, our Humlepung is Norway’s bestselling cider,” says Joar.

Aga Sideri: Enjoy the best sips of summer with Aga Sideri

A fruitful adventure

Before Joar took over the farm, he had been dabbling in cider production as a small passion project, thinking that he might be able to make cider for friends and family for when they came to visit. He decided to join the amateur category in Hardanger’s annual cider contest for fun, not expecting to come out on top in the category. “It gave me the motivation and reassurance to take my cider making ideas to the next level, and Aga Sideri was established in 2018,” he says.

“I returned to the contest the following year with our traditional Lagmann cider, but this time I participated in the professional category. It would be an understatement to say that I was nervous to participate among all these great cideries who have been producing for decades, some for generations.” But he had nothing to worry about, as Aga’s cider came home with the first prize, an honour Joar struggles to put words to. “Because we can’t advertise alcohol in Norway, winning that title did so much for our little cidery. It gave us an incredible start to our journey.”

With keen eyes watching and the confidence to keep going, Aga Sideri’s cider adventure took off. Today, the farm produces 200,000 litres of cider per year, and the brimming orchard is unable to keep up with the demand as it continues to introduce more bestsellers.

“It’s truly been an adventure,” says Joar. “I’m grateful for all the help from other farmers and producers in the area. We all work together to create a community where high-quality cider production can thrive, and I’m proud that Aga Sideri gets to represent Hardanger with all these other amazing cideries.”

Aga Sideri: Enjoy the best sips of summer with Aga Sideri

Community, history, and identity in a bottle

Aga Sideri’s drinks are much more than just fun, fruity, and delicious; they are an homage to the history and people from the area. Joar explains that when making these drinks, each one tells a story. “Our cider Lagmann, for example, was named after the powerful Sigurd Brynjulfsson who lived on the Aga farm 800 years ago,” he says. “Similarly, Bøddel was named after Samson Isberg, Norway’s second-last executioner, who grew up near Aga. Despite his job title, he was described as a kind-hearted man.”

The most interesting cider, however, might be Humlepung, which happens to be the beverage telling the story of the cidery’s founder. Humplepung, which also happens to be the country’s bestselling cider, is a traditional Hardanger cider that gets its unique flavour from the common hops plant. “The word humlepung means an insult used towards someone who does something stupid,” Joar explains with a grin. “Traditionally, ciders should be made from 100% apples, and if my grandfather had seen how I add hops in this cider, he would definitely have called me a humlepung.”

Humlepung is not the only beverage that sees old traditions and new impulses come together. Humlepung Rosé offers a delicate and floral twist to the original Humlepung and is a great alternative to white wine. “We want people to see that cider is Hardanger’s answer to wine, and that it offers just as much, if not more, to any culinary experience,” adds Joar.

If you’re not too fond of alcoholic drinks, don’t fret. Aga Sideri’s non-alcoholic beverages range from Humlesus, a non-alcoholic variant of the bestseller, to delicious and flavourful juices that pair local apples with the best berries and plants nature has to offer.

No matter what you’re eating this summer, pair it with a drink from Aga Sideri for a bit of history, fun, and of course, an incomparable flavour. In addition to producing ciders and other alcohol-free drinks, Aga Sideri offers tours around the orchard and a range of other gastronomical experiences incorporating the Aga Cider.

Aga Sideri: Enjoy the best sips of summer with Aga Sideri

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