In our current issue, we spotlight six ciders bound to change your mind about the apple-laced drink. One of the trends we noticed while putting the list together is the beer-minded method of mixing a variety of fruit or other ingredients (spices, herbs, etc.) into the fermenter for something wildly out-of-the-box. Since we went to print, I’ve sipped a few more untraditional ciders (plus a pineapple wine) that grabbed my attention. They’re all worth seeking out.
2 Towns ‘Cot in the Act: Based in Corvallis, Ore., with an orchard that butts up against the Willamette River, 2 Towns Ciderhouse sources only Pacific Northwest apples for its ciders, though other fruits sneak into the fermenter from time to time. For ‘Cot in the Act, the team tosses 50 pounds of apricots per barrel on top of locally sourced apples. The result is a slightly musty, semi-sweet cider with a fleshy, tart apricot note that accentuates the apple’s drying acidity. Others to try: The tangy Rhubarb & Apple Cider out now, and September’s Marionberry Cider, made with apples and Oregon marionberries.
Seattle PNW Berry: It’s the sister company of Two Beers Brewing—the ciderhouse actually shares space with the brewery—and maker of one of my favorite dry ciders (its Dry Hard Cider), but I also love Seattle Cider’s more unusual creations. Made with locally grown raspberries, blueberries and blackberries (and apples!), PNW Berry’s an incredibly approachable, effervescent twist on cider, and it works in a flute, on ice, or all by itself in a pint. This summer spritzer shoots earthy, sweet berry notes across the tongue, while acidic apple undertones and crisp carbonation end each refreshing, colorful sip with an invigorating snap. Others to try: Spring’s spirit-minded Gin Botanical, crafted with lemon, orange rind, juniper, cucumber and verbena; or the fall release Pumpkin Spice, made with cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and cloves.
Maeloc Strawberry Hard Cider: This one comes all the way from Maeloc, a ciderhouse located in Galacia, Spain, just north of Portugal. It’s my first taste of the ciderhouse’s 100-percent Galacian-sourced apple ciders, and so far I’m pretty intrigued. This strawberry cider—a really, really intense strawberry cider—is perfectly fine alone, but it would be a killer addition to any mixologist’s arsenal. Assertive, candied strawberry flavors rush back with subtle musty apple accents. Sweet berry fruitiness dominates the swallow, before a late drying finish takes over. Others to try: If the Blackberry Hard Cider is just as intense, it’s worth a try.
Argus Tepache Especial: Armed with barrels, wild yeast and apples, Texas’s Argus Cidery crafts mind-blowing, deliciously weird ciders. But its Tepache Especial is possibly the most interesting drink I’ve sampled this year. Modeled after the Mexican cooler tepache, a fermented sipper traditionally made with pineapple, brown sugar and cinnamon, Argus created a wild sparkling pineapple wine. A woody, slightly spicy oak flavor accents a big wash of tart, acidic and sweet tropical pineapple notes. Just before the finish, a subtle brininess pops out, lending a slight savory flash to the tropical swallow. Others to try: Occasional releases like Bandera Brut, an oak-aged cider fermented with wild yeast, and Malus Cuvée, an oak-aged apple wine modeled after German apfelweins.