Just as complex as wine and as drinkable as beer, ciders are the best-kept secret in the alcohol world. But, they are becoming increasingly popular thanks to local cider houses and breweries and the bold new flavors and interesting blends available, plus they are also gluten-free (usually).
Ciders are sweet and bubbly, and they are starting to take over the alcohol industry. According to industry analysis, the global cider market should reach nearly $14 billion by 2024.
With this year's apple crop hitting store shelves, fall is the perfect time of year for hard cider (even though it is available all year long). So, the next time you are at your local grocery or liquor store, try one of these twelve popular ciders so you can enjoy an amazing, crisp beverage while the air gets colder and the leaves change.
This seasonal cider from Seattle Cider Company has a semi-sweet taste and copper color that makes it perfect for fall. Using Granny Smith, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Gala apples, it is fermented with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, and cloves. There are also hints of other fall spices and a touch of pumpkin.
Perfect with food like carrot cake, sharp cheddar cheese, or pork loin, this cider is available through November. And, the company follows it up with a seasonal Oaked Maple cider.
The dry-hopped classic hard apple cider from Square Mile is a 9-time award winner that is crafted in Portland, Oregon. It is flavorful and aromatic, and Square Mile dry-hopped this cider to bring out the flavor, while leaving out the bitterness.
Square Mile has a fun company culture. And, if their Instagram is any indication, their ciders love to travel, and they really enjoy the outdoors, and that's where you should enjoy it.
Blackduck Cidery is a family-owned business in upstate New York, and John Reynolds is their master cider maker who established the gold standard in textured, yet easy to drink American farmhouse ciders. Reynolds uses long fermentations, and makes his crabby pip with 38 percent crab apples, giving it a taste that is tart and extra dry.
You can find Crabby Pip in the Finger Lakes region of New York, as well as other parts of the state. If you don't live in New York, you can request a shipment on their website.
Made from Vermont cranberries and apples, this cranberry-infused cider from Citizen Cider has a tart and crisp flavor. The Citizen Cider brand is very new, and it comes from three friends who have different backgrounds --- chemistry, farming, and wine sales. They came together to make their hard cider brand in 2012 and have been going strong ever since.
The AmeriCran pairs well with poultry, roasted veggies, and hard cheese. And, if you live in any of the New England states, New York, New Jersey, North or South Carolina, or Illinois, you will easily be able to find it.
Angry Orchard is America's largest cider producer. Their 60-acre Hudson Valley, New York orchard has been making cider for over two-hundred years. So, they have had time to perfect the process. They do offer a green apple cider with a blend of Granny Smith, Braeburn, Fuji, Gala, and Pink Lady apples that has a fresh, delicious taste.
However, if you want to be more adventurous, try something from the second release of their Understood in Motion series, which is a collaboration with EZ Orchards. For this cider, the cider makers use Bittersweet Muscadet de Lense and Marie Menard from Oregon, and heirloom, acid-forward Gold Rush and Northern Spy apples from New York.
Strongbow is a popular brand with cider drinkers, and they have taken things to a new level with their Gold Hard Apple Cider. Made from Golden Delicious and Honeycrisp apples, this cider is a sweet take on their classic offering.
It features a transparent gold color, a rich aroma, and a texture that has a balance between acidity, sharpness, sourness, and sweetness. It pairs well with sushi, sashimi, fried fish, white meat, or ribs. Or, if you just want to enjoy a snack, Strongbow's Gold Apple Hard Cider is perfect with crackers, pistachios, cashews, almonds, or salt and vinegar chips.
Three college friends started Harpoon over thirty years ago, and during that time they have made dozens of beers and ciders. Their original craft cider has no artificial colors, flavors, or preservatives. They use locally pressed apples which gives their cider a clean, crisp, and refreshing taste.
Harpoon Craft Cider is gluten-free and has a taste of fresh apples with a light acidity. The aroma is fresh apples and apple skins, and it has a straw-golden appearance.
Woodchuck considers themselves to be the "original American hard cider," and their Raspberry Cider is a light, sweet, and refreshing twist on their original hard cider. Woodchuck Raspberry Cider is well-balanced and delicate in body. And, the sweet raspberry finish kicks things up a notch and gives it extra zip.
A Scrumpy is a simple farmhouse cider made from the apples on hand, and for over 150 years, JK's --- a Michigan cidery --- has made its Scrumpy with organic apples from their orchard, plus naturally occurring wild yeast.
With a fresh and juicy apple aroma and a crisp, clean finish, JK's Scrumpy Hard Cider is gluten free and certified Kosher. And, it is available on tap, in bottles, and in cans.
Crispin Cider Co. has a mantra of "orchard to bottle," and The Saint is their unfiltered hard cider made from apple-wine and pure maple syrup. That results in a hearty, sweet artisanal cider that anyone can enjoy.
It has a cloudy, deep orange appearance and a fruity aroma that has hints of maple and molasses. Some of the flavor notes include rich, overripe apples, maple and baking spices, plus a slight taste of banana and pear.
Available year-round, this award-winning cherry cider begins with sour Granny Smith apples, Montmorency sour cherry, and Morello sour cherry all fermented with English Ale yeast. They also add a touch of Bartlett pear juice and some secret spices.
There is even a hint of ghost chili pepper that gives this refined, cherry-forward cider an extra kick.
Pippin is an old word for apple, and Eric West --- the founder of Cider Guide --- is a big fan of this blended cider that has a dry, classic style. Made from Michigan heirloom apples, Left Foot Charley's Henry's Pippen blends different vintages, a technique known as the Solera Method, and makes a complex cider that is still very drinkable.
These twelve ciders are just the tip of the cider iceberg. There are so many different brands and flavors to try. But, these are definitely among the most popular, and a good place to start your cider journey. We are sure that after trying these options, you will easily find the perfect hard cider to add to your beverage rotation.