While you may be disappointed that Summer is over, jacket season is in full swing, and you must put away the rosé, there is one positive aspect: it’s finally hard cider season! While it’s true that you can drink hard cider any time of year, Fall is the prime season for such a beverage.
Things have really taken off for hard cider and now you can find many brands and types on the market. Not only are there the popular, mass-produced brands you can find in any supermarket, but there are also now heritage ciders. Heritage Ciders are produced like fine wines: specific apples are grown, harvested at their peak, and pressed immediately. This is in contrast to mass-produced ciders that use dessert apple varietals that are pressed after being in cold storage. Heritage Ciders are fermented and matured in a process similar to that of wine, but no sugars or tannins are added.
Beyond the Heritage Ciders, one must also consider the level of sweetness of dryness of a given cider. Yes, much like a wine, there are now many flavor profiles in the hard cider industry; I’m sure we will soon see cider sommeliers and cider snobs.
So, if you find beer too filling and bourbons too harsh, you may want to join the growing wave of cider enthusiasts. Below are a range of brands that will start you on your journey and expand your palate.
When you search through the many options on the market, Shacksbury is one brand that makes everyone’s list. Their most popular draft seems to be the semi-dry, which you can purchase in packs of 4 cans or 12. It is described as “robust and fruity”, but not too sweet with 6.5% ABV. This cider is made with a mixture of apples that are grown in both Cornwall, Vermont and Herefordshire, England. A safe bet and a great place to begin your journey into the world of craft cider.
Farnum Hill Farmhouse Cider
Though it is described as their “most casual cider”, you will find that Farnum Hill Farmhouse Cider has more bite than your average, sweet cider. It is bubbly, fruity, and tart with a hint of sweetness. Not for everyone, but drinking this will certainly give you an air of sophistication. Available in a 750 ML bottle, this New Hampshire born brand is 6.5% ABV.
BlackDuck Cidery Crabby Pip
An interesting blend of crab apples, some hybrids, and heirloom apples. The company says that by bottling this cider before the fermentation process was complete, they achieved an in-bottle secondary fermentation for carbonation. It comes in a 750 ML bottle, is yellow in color and is 6.9% ABV. This is a complex crowd-pleaser and will make you look like a cider pro.
If you’re attending a Fall dinner party, but don’t want to be the eighth person to bring a bottle of wine, reach for Famille Dupont’s Cidre Bouché. Fruity and fresh, this is a quality cider that actually gets better with age (when stored properly). The name literally means “cider under cork”, so you will have to pop the bottle, making it ultimately more appealing than showing up with a six-pack. Fermented in stainless steel vats, gold in color, sweet smelling, with a not overly sweet or tart fresh taste: This is the cider you use to impress your friends.
Wölffer No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider
Don’t let the name fool you: this cider is made in Bridgehampton, New York. What sets this blend apart is not only the color but the flavor. It’s a great dry cider with a splash of grape juice for flavor and color. This is a family business, but that doesn’t mean that this cider lacks flair; in fact, it has plenty to spare. Everything from the color to the packaging is eye-catching. Great for those who are mourning the end of rosé season, but want to try something new and fun. It’s an easy-to-drink flavor with 6.9% ABV.
Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry
For the more adventurous out there, Reverend Nat’s Sour Cherry is a must-try. This brand claims to be the real deal for their specific fruit blend and flavor profile. Unlike other brands, they exclusively use sour Granny Smith apples for their unique brand of tartness. They also use two different types of sour cherries and a splash of pear juice. A truly fascinating blend, all the ingredients come together to make a distinctive cider. This cider comes in a 500 ML bottle and is 6% ABV. While it has the lowest ABV on this list, it more than makes up for it with awesome flavor. This is the cider you whip out when you want to show off your deep-cut cider knowledge and singular taste in beverages. Delicious, but not for the faint of heart and mild of the tongue.
This list is by no means an exhaustive one, but rather an infinitesimally small amount of ciders on the market today. The sheer number of brands and types is overwhelming. The aforementioned ciders are a great jumping-off point for your foray into the world of hard ciders. Once you have tried these, you can use them as a yardstick by which to determine your tastes and guide future purchases. So, whether you’re watching a football game, enjoying a picnic, or attending a dinner with friends, there is a perfect cider for the occasion. Enjoy Fall, the perfect Season for hard cider!