The fruity concoction known as cider has experienced a revival in recent years. We like these artisanal ciders, often made by smaller breweries, for their creative flavors and high quality.
Everyone likes to party up when the temperature goes down, but we don’t all like lagers and ales. There’s no need for a signature cocktail or the “nostalgic” wine cooler to get your adult beverage refreshment on.
These artisanal ciders will let you celebrate without the bitter flavor of beer.
Whetstone Ciderworks in Marlboro, Vermont, has released its yearly lineup, and the Whetstone Reserve is the leader of this pack. Similar in flavor to a sauvignon blanc, this cider has a crisp, clean, fruity flavor that pairs well with lean pork, seafood and chicken. Since it doesn’t have to be well chilled to be at optimal flavor, you can keep the bottles in ice at a party for easy access.
Smackintosh from Tandem Ciders in Michigan is exactly what it sounds like — a sweet and tart apple-flavored jewel of a cider brewed from the apples of local growers in small batches to preserve the best each apple has to offer.
Crispin brews a refined cider that isn’t as styled as the traditional sweet beer alternative. The Saint is no exception to their “not sweet and sticky” rule. If you’re a cider skeptic, Crispin challenges you to prepare to be converted. Fermented with Belgian Trappist beer yeasts and a blend of fresh-pressed apple juice, The Saint has a naturally sweet, floral (and very beer-like) bouquet with hints of yeast and herbal complexity on the back end.
Fox Barrel Black Label
Move over Granny Smith! Fox Barrel prepares its ciders with real California pears. The Black Label series comes in three varieties to suit your mood.
- Pacific Pear Cider — A clean flavor with a natural pear finish and a subtle woody complexity.
- Blackberry Pear Cider — Blackberry adds a tangy sass to this perplexingly sweet and sharp brew.
- Apricot Pear Cider — Velvety and slightly tart, this sweet and musky cider may be our favorite.
Bushwacker knows that the barrel is the key to a great cider. The newest addition to their barrel collection is the Sequoia, which is aged in barrels with a Big Bottom history. They held white port for over a year, were then filled with Big Bottom Whiskey, then emptied and filled with Sequoia to age for five months.
Woodchuck Private Reserve Ginger Cider
Woodchuck asked cinnamon to take a hike and opted instead for another spicy complement for their private reserve cider — ginger! As strange as it may sound, ginger works well with apple. This unique cider is easy to drink with a slight kick.
Thistly Cross Scottish Cider
Gotta love the Scottish and their wonderfully playful use of language! This aptly named cider is immediately flavorful, but finishes with the sweetness you’d expect of an apple cider.
Cinnamon Girl Hard Cider
Left Food Charley in Traverse City, Michigan, is an urban winery with one eye on the orchard and the other on the latest trends. That trend includes artisanal ciders, and their Cinnamon Girl Hard Cider couldn’t be more on point. It’s aged with Korjinte and Vietnamese cinnamon with just a hint of carbonation to give it a flavor reminiscent of Grandma’s apple pie.
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider brings us a Belgian wit-style cider made with American apples. With coriander, bitter orange peel and paradise grains, this cider is fermented with French saison ale yeast, pure apricot juice and Oregon-grown Cascade (and sometimes Amarillo) hops.