It’s a good time to be a cider drinker. Between the craft ciders coming out of the Northeast and Pacific Northwest and the funky, tart bottles finding their way here from Spain, there’s a wide variety to choose from. One of the newer trends is hopped cider, which is flavored with the same types of hops used in beer.
Before I.P.A. haters go running for the hop-less hills, it should be noted that since ciders aren’t brewed in the same way that beers are, the hops aren’t being boiled, which means they don’t release their signature bitterness. Instead, the hops add beautiful floral notes and a background of warm hay and fresh grass. Home brewing forums suggest that amateur brewers have been experimenting with hopped cider for years (particularly in the Pacific Northwest where hops and apples are both thriving crops), but the practice is still just now gaining popularity for commercial brewers.
Here, five hopped ciders to try now. The combination of hoppy complexity plus the crisp fruitiness of apples makes them terrific with food—especially rich Thanksgiving dishes.
Square Mile Spur & Vine: One of the newest hopped ciders on the market, this light bottling from Portland, OR is flavored with Galaxy hops, a favorite of I.P.A. makers. Made with Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious and Johnny Gold apples, it is an easy-drinking introduction to the genre. squaremilecider.com
Finnriver Dry Hopped Hard Cider: Made with spicy Cascade hops, the most popular hop used in the U.S., this Washington cider is floral with a bright citrusy tang. finnriver.com
Wood Chuck Cellar Series Dry Hop: This year, the Vermont brewery launched a line of limited edition experimental ciders. The first release was the dry hopped cider, made with Cascade hops. While the pine-scented cider’s seasonal run technically lasted through October, bottles can still be found in certain shops and online. woodchuck.com
Doc’s Draft Wet- & Dry-Hopped Ciders: Made in New York’s Hudson Valley, Doc’s dry-hopped cider is flavored with citrusy Centennial and pine-y Chinook hops, which balance the sweet cider with some light tanginess. This October, Doc’s partnered with the Tour de France restaurant group to create a wet-hopped cider made with ultra-aromatic, freshly picked Nugget hops instead of dry ones. The wet-hopped cider, which is labeled as Tour de France Cider, is available on draft at Tour de France restaurants and bottled at Doc’s tasting room. wvwinery.com
Teiton Yakima Valley Dry Hopped Cider: The Washington cidery uses a signature blend of locally grown hops to add a citrusy kick to their clean and crisp cider. tietonciderworks.com