Author: Keith McCanna

August 2013: The Gärtnerei

Out of the basement and into my Father-in-Laws Gärtnerei.

Now this was a huge step in the right direction. A place I could call my own in some ways. It was my secret lab, my wine cellar, my playground and it was beautiful on the cold clear nights pressing outside with the stars above as it was all still hand-pressed, still hand milled, but I had more space for more shelves, more carboys, and a lab for analysis and testing of the cider and must.

This gave me greater freedom to experiment to run more batches and try new things like malolactic fermentations, and experiment with specific apple varieties and the ability to make larger batches.

But like anything else now I needed more supplies, more apples, more time so I stole those hours late at night and early in the morning sometimes working straight through to the mornings – but the results were worth the effort – other varieties, new creations and even better ciders with more controlled results. I craved even more learning.

Welcome to Sachsen Cider


Thanks for visiting our site. I hope you find it easy to navigate and full of the types of information about us and our ciders that you are looking for. Surf around there’s videos from our crowd funding platform and on how we make cider here. There’s photo galleries with images from the harvesting in the Fall of 2014, the pressing, bottling and tasting and of our ciders and what’s important to us. There a section about cider itself, and Eoin’s corner a literary column from an Irish friend and fellow cider enthusiast.

Please let us know what you think about our site and what additional information we can provide. Otherwise enjoy the site and hopefully we will have you over enjoying one of our ciders once we are open for business.

Drink Up Thy Zider (a.k.a. What is Cider?)

Before going all technical and scientific, let me first give a personal answer. Cider is a deliciously, refreshing and fruity beverage; a perfect thirst-quencher on dusty, hot summer’s days when chilled and a perfect heart warmer on long, frosty winter’s evenings when mulled. It is lighter and more invigorating than beer, less potent but just as subtle and varied as wine. In fact, cider has all you could want from a drink.

So what is it? Simply, cider is the juice of pressed apples in varying stages of fermentation; from little or no fermentation (Soft Cider, non-alcoholic) to partially or fully fermented dry (Hard Cider, alcoholic). Soft Cider is an American term – it is, in fact, apple juice, though freshly pressed and untreated apple juice is quite different to the insipid, cloying, treated stuff most of us know from the supermarkets, with all their added sugars and flavourings and chemicals. This stuff is so far removed from real cider that it’s barely related and barely tolerated by the other members of the cider family, except perhaps by some of the mass produced hard ciders which are equally full of additives and equally insipid and deserve no further mention on these pages. Here we are talking about real cider.


Fermentation is the bio-chemical process in which yeasts gobble up sugars and produce alcohol. Apples have their own wild yeasts and their own natural sugars, so fermentation can happen entirely naturally without any prodding by the maker and you can produce a relatively low alcoholic cider (2-4%) simply by pressing the juice and letting it sit in the right temperatures and the right kind of container – one that protects it from bacterial contamination. The final level of alcohol depends on the type and blend of apples used and whether the juice is allowed to fully ferment or is stopped before all the sugar is eaten up. How much sugar remains after fermentation is stopped decides the sweetness of the cider, which, like wines can range from very sweet to very dry covering all points in between. Unlike most wines though, cider can also have natural degrees of effervescence caused by the carbon dioxide released during fermentation after bottling.

“Drink up the cider, drink up the cider
For tonight we’ll merry be
We’ll knock the milk maids over and roll them in the clover
The corn’s half cut and so are we.”
From “Drink up thy Zider” by Adge Cutler

To boost fermentation and the strength of the cider, most makers don’t just rely on the natural process, but add cultured yeasts and/or extra sugar. The amount and type of sugar added affects the taste and strength of the finished cider. A cider produced like this will have a strength of between 5-8%. Anything stronger than that is moving from the realm of cider into apple wine.


What affects the taste of cider then, is all the combined factors mentioned above. First, the apples used are usually specifically bred for this purpose, so there is a good balance between sweetness and bitterness. Various species of apples are usually mixed in the press to create the desired blend. The type of yeast used also has a considerable effect on the final taste affecting primarily the degree of muskiness and clarity. The amount of residual sugar that remains when fermentation has ended and also the control of other chemical reactions during fermentation primarily affect the acidity and acerbity and sweetness. Finally, other ingredients are often added, like herbs, spices, honey or other fruits to create a range of flavours and tastes that make drinking cider as unique and special as any wine drinking experience.

So what are you waiting for? Drink up your cider.

Executive Summary

Executive Summary:

Saxon Cider, Dresden’s original and only Cider House was established in the Baroque City of Dresden in the State of Saxony in 2014. This Artisanal Cider House is located in Reick and is the proud maker of McCanna’s Hard and Heavy and The Artisanal Series Ciders.

It was founded by Keith McCanna: the current owner-operator and chief cider maker and his wife Katharina. Mr. McCanna was first a chemist & hobby cider maker, who then honed his cider making skills at the Cider and Perry Academy in the UK. The initial investments to create this Cider House came from his personal savings, family investments, contributions from membership fees & from crowd funding through Dresden Durchstarter / Startnext.

Our ciders are hand-pressed and hand-crafted in small batches using organic fruit and 100% organic juices from small orchards and press houses all over Saxony and along the Elbe River Valley. We offer a healthy alternative,  a 100 %  apple and fruit juice-based, gluten free, cider without any artificial flavourings or colours, unfiltered, unpasteurized: a product from this land, created with care and quality by our family for the people of Saxony. A new tradition with an old heritage: one to be proud enough of to put in your glass.

Our ciders like our family are a blend of the old world and new. We combine old world heirloom fruit with traditional German varieties and recipes to create our unique blends and tastes, using both traditional methods and modern German technology, with only the best ending up in the bottles. At present we have two lines and six separate varieties to appease the palate. The Hard & Heavy is sure to be a hit with traditional cider drinkers and the Artisanal Ciders with their new-age blends are sure to be popular among the younger generation, and women looking for something other than beer. This line we hope to expand by several varieties by next year, with many new types presently under taste trials. Our first years production is estimated to be approximately 1o 000 Liters.

In the near future these ciders will be available in bottles or on tap at selected pubs, restaurants, and wine stores within Dresden and in our own private Tasting Room. You can also find us within our own authentic Cider Wagon  at local fairs, festivals and events throughout the year.

Our goal within the next 3 years is to double our production, incorporate other organic fruits into our ciders and expand our distribution by hooking up with local distributors so that you can find us on store shelves within Dresden. Adding a Marketing and PR Rep. to our staff will be essential for this. Future plans also include a small family run restaurant & patio connected to the taproom and the opening an internet shop and workshop within our Cider House. There, individuals interested in learning the art of home brewing can come and create their very own high quality homemade wine and cider using our expertise, equipment and space. Further into the future we hope to be able to grow and source all of our craft cider apples and fruits from our own organic orchards.

Our success is dependent upon the Elbe River Valley. Here in Dresden we are surrounded by apple orchards, apple storehouses, family run orchards & juicing houses. As well as having some of the world’s leading apple experts from the Dresden-Pilnitz Fruit Institute nearby, creators of the Pinova apple. We also have access to state of the art German apple processing technology from the likes of Speidel & Voran. In the Elbe Valley microclimate, we can cultivate apple varieties from all over the globe to create unique and special blends for our musts. The people of Dresden are seeking a healthy alternative to beer and this we can offer in a refreshing new format. Cider is growing and reviving all over the globe, and we are the first to bring it to Dresden. It’s all in the apples and all we do is simply assist them in becoming great apple cider with great flavours and Dresden knows apples.

Keith R. McCanna Geschäftsführer Sachsen Cider