Home Cider Spicy ciders are our summer jam

Spicy ciders are our summer jam

Low-frequency heat marries perfectly with juicy, sweet hard cider.

Photo by Adrian Baird for DRAFT

Photo by Adrian Baird for DRAFT

Producers of hard cider, one of the fastest growing alcoholic beverages on the market, toy with all sorts of ingredients besides apples: other fruits, herbs, even hops. One of the more successful flavors we’ve tried recently is the spicy-sweet combo of pepper ciders. Think about it: Mango salsa perfectly marries a juicy fruit with low-key heat—why not apply that balance to cider? We’ve tried two versions: Seattle Cider’s Three Pepper and Blake’s Hard Cider’s El Chavo; we’ll gladly take your recommendations for others.

Why do they work? That balance. A fruity cider benefits from the peppers’ vegetal, green aromas as well as the added complexity of heat and pepper flavor. Seattle Cider’s limited-release Three Pepper cider is almost all fresh-cut bell and jalapeño pepper on the nose; you have to really work to get the fruit underneath. On the sip, though, apple sweetness leads the charge, only transitioning into low-frequency jalapeño heat midway through. Juicy apple keeps the cider in focus, ending in a cohesive, fresh swallow. Blake’s Hard Cider’s El Chavo rests in the mid-sweet part of the cider scale, and hums with a habanero warmth and tropical mango flavors. Either of these ciders ease effortlessly into fall, if we don’t drink them all before then.


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


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