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10 out-of-the-box American ciders

You’ll find more than just alcoholic apple juice on shelves these days. Dry, barrel-aged and hopped versions offer a spin on what cider can be.
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Photo by Ed Rudolph for DRAFT

Photo by Ed Rudolph for DRAFT

You’ll find more than just alcoholic apple juice on shelves these days. Dry, barrel-aged and hopped versions offer a spin on what cider can be: tannic, herbal, spicy, but not cloyingly sweet. Cider skeptics, just try a glass.

Virtue Lapinette
Fennville, Mich.’s Virtue was founded by former Goose Island brewmaster Greg Hall, but his brut cider has more in common with champagne than beer: White-wine-like tannins and big, zippy bubbles make it an ideal pairing for briny oysters or creamy cheese.

EZ Orchards Hawk Haus
Named for the Kestrel hawks that nest among the Jonathan and Yarlington Mill apple trees in the Willamette Valley orchard, this musty, effervescent cider remains refreshing with an apple skin quality that doesn’t read sweet.

Nine Pin Willsie Dry Hop
Hopped ciders aren’t always balanced, but the Albany, N.Y., ciderhouse nails it: Minty, grassy hops in the aroma emerge as green tea flavor on the sip. An undercurrent of green apple crispness brings the fruit back into focus.

Tieton Dry
If you’re uneasy with the tartness of most dry ciders, give this Yakima Valley-made version a try. It opens with tempting baking spices and pie crust aromas, then eases into a minerally—but not acidic—sip.

Prima Barrique
Chardonnay drinkers, keep an eye out for this barrel-aged cider: New oak flavor balances the apples’ light sweetness and lends round woodiness to the sip. Look for the southern Illinois cidery’s European-style offerings, too.

Seattle Cider Three Pepper
Low-frequency jalapeño flavor and heat hum in the background of this stunningly balanced cider. Like a good mango salsa, spice and fruit synch up evenly.

Devoto 1976
This barely sweet cider’s clear, screw-capped bottle could be mistaken for a wine bottle, but that’s not its only vinous quality: Grape notes and a soft mouthfeel make this a Riesling drinker’s dream.

Snowdrift Dry
Not ready to let go of a touch of sweetness? This Washington state cider balances its sugar content with red apple skin tannins that mop up in a clean, bubbly finish that doesn’t linger on the tongue.

Farnum Hill Dooryard
Each batch of Dooryard is numbered on its back label; log on to the cidery’s website to find out the flavors in your specific vintage blend. All will be on the dry end of the spectrum; ours was lightly funky and faintly citrusy with cola-sized bubbles.

Argus Perennial 2013
The Texas apples that create Argus’ ciders don’t get much natural rainfall, which helps concentrate and intensify flavor. This vintage is made with five varieties and aged on French and American oak, resulting in a musty, wood aroma. Huge bubbles perk up the dry, tannic sip.

 

Author
Kate Bernot is DRAFT’s beer editor. Reach her at kate.bernot[at]draftmag.com.

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2 Comments

  • […] spotlight. And why not? Cider is rapidly growing in popularity; American cidermakers are crafting more flavorful ciders than ever; and it’s an excellent beverage to pair with food. Here are four coast-to-coast […]

  • Lori Tauer says:

    Cheers to the diversity of this elegant beverage! But please, please do not compare cider to beer (“…Greg Hall’s brut cider has more in common with champagne than beer…”) Consumers often share an erroneous perception that hard cider is “that beer made from apples”. This perception was made worse when the big guns in the industry started packaging and pricing hard cider as if it were competing with the beer market. Would you ever consider drinking a lovely, complex sparkling wine from 16 oz can? Cider is an adult beverage, like wine, made from fermented fruit. It has a long, international tradition and has been reinvented in the New World in many unique adaptations, as your article highlights. Swirl, sniff, sip, cheers!

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