It’s cider season, and the classic sweet apple sipper is suddenly everywhere, with brewing giants bottling renditions that all seem to hit the same note. (Bonus: It’s a boon for the gluten-free crowd!) But we’re loving wild, whimsical apple brews that bend the very notion of cider; here are eight you should sip:
1. Woody and still (no bubbles!), you’d swear Argus Malus Cuvee was wine, but sip again: Musty, sweet apples and barnyardy yeast make this one curious cider.
2. Seattle Cider Washington Heirloom eschews syrpupy sweetness for fleshy apple flavor, Champagnelike bubbles and a wonderfully effortless swallow.
3. Don’t let the twee bottle fool you: Maeloc Blackberry’s not for beginners. The 4%-ABV cider’s loaded with the vinegary sourness and smoky-funky must that are hallmarks of Spanish cider; blackberry doesn’t push it’s own agenda, but rather grounds all that complexity with dark fruit flavor.
4. Angry Orchard Cinnful is cider’s answer to pumpkin spice: Big, bright cinnamon is at once delicate and feisty in a sip that’s light, brisk and utterly seasonal.
5. You’ll immediately recognize the earthy, tart crabapples in Tandem The Crabster, which uses the fruit to round off brighter apple varieites for a deep, sweet profile.
6. Sparkling and spunky, Ciderboys Magic Apple shows off tart, juicy strawberry before apple-skin flavor swoops in to clinch the finish.
7. Hops don’t always equal mega-bitterness: Square Mile Hopped Cider‘s cold-conditioned with Galaxy hops, and because the hops never see the heat, the cider gets none of the hops’ bitterness but all of their honeydew and peachy flavor for a profile that’s wonderfully akin to sparkling grape juice.
8. Champagnelike and wonderfully woody, you’d swear Tieton Blossom Nectar was aged in oak; still, it’s sweet, but in a gorgeously floral, fruity and fleshy way that never becomes cloying. Oh, and its 7% ABV? Sneaky!