No matter how you feel about cider, this article is for you.
If you think you don’t like cider, I encourage you to try as many of these as you can. They cover a broad spectrum of modern cidermaking (which is actually very similar to traditional cidermaking) featuring a wide range of flavors from acidic to tannic, fruity to funky – things you may not have realized a cider can be
If you are already as passionate about cider as I am, I stand by this list even more steadfastly. These ciders are the ones I have been reaching for again and again over the past few years – often discovering something new and intriguing with each revisit.
And if you don’t know how you feel about cider, well what are you waiting for? I’ve specifically chosen cideries from across the country, including the best cider regions the United States has to offer. No matter where you live, hopefully you can hunt down at least a few of these bottles.
Oyster River Winegrowers Wildman Cider (ME)
A winemaker’s pedigree and native (or as some say, “wild”) fermentation provide the depth of unexpected flavors in this awesomely funky and tart cider that somehow invokes the scents and taste of clove, anise, kumquat, citrus and lemon peel, but still manages to finish clean.
Shacksbury Semi-Dry (VT)
Shacksbury finally created a canned cider for people who love complex and engaging ciders earlier this year. Though the “Dry” is light and delightfully acidic, the “Semi-Dry” boasts enough balance to have crossover appeal to those who usually favor sweeter drinks. As I described back in May, “The nose has just enough farmhouse to make you feel like you’re strolling through an orchard, and the taste has enough acidity and tannins to help those residual sugars coalesce into delicate fruitiness, all while drifting into an earthy finish.”
Blackduck Cidery Spanish Style Sidra (NY)
No one in the country is producing better cider than John Reynolds at Blackduck in New York’s Finger Lakes region. His long, cool native fermentations create luscious and complex ciders. His Spanish Style Sidra especially shows off the beauty of his process, developing on the palate from minerality into huge funk, acid and grapefruit before finishing enticingly dry.
Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider Black Label Still and Dry Farmhouse Cider (NY)
The Finger Lakes isn’t the only area of New York producing amazing cider. Hudson Valley Farmhouse has mastered the art of delightfully dirty, fruity ciders, like digging into a piece of unwashed fruit you’ve picked right off the tree: juicy, citrusy, seedy, awesome.
Millstone Farmgate (MD)
Few ciders are as enjoyably abrasive as Millstone’s. But if you don’t mind cheek-puckering tartness, sometimes to the point of being almost vinegary (like a sour beer, not like a balsamic), ciders like the Maryland cidery’s flagship Farmgate could be your new best friend.
Virtue Lapinette (MI)
Former Goose Island brewmaster Gregory Hall, the man who created Bourbon County Stout, has found a second act with the hope of proving his cider can be as complex as his beers. Offerings like his delicious French Brut-style Lapinette, which is equal parts farmhouse and refreshing, prove he may already be there.
Troy MMXIII (CA)
This California cidery weaves quince into its intense mix of apples culled from wild, once forgotten local orchards, natively ferments these juices, and then ages the results in oak barrels for nearly a year. The final product is amazing: an interplay of striking tannins and light tropical acidity which presents as a wide array of flavors – pineapple, stone fruit, even cactus.
EZ Orchards Poire (OR)
EZ Orchards makes plenty of enjoyable ciders, but its Poire is a standout: simultaneously subtle and engaging with tantalizing fresh pear flavors dancing among a funky, dry minerality that quickly leads you to the bottom of one of the best bottles of cider you’ve ever tried.
Art & Science West Valley Cider (OR)
Proving that interesting cider can still have big fruit flavors, West Valley Cider conjures up huge flavors like fruit cup, lemon drop, even maybe a bit of Mountain Dew. But it balances these big notes with an enjoyable, nearly celery-like vegetableness and whisks you away with a grapefruit-y finish – an interesting journey to say the least.
Snowdrift Cider Company Red (WA)
If after reading through my list, you’re thinking, This sounds like a bunch of pretentious crap, go grab yourself a Snowdrift Red. One of the easiest drinking ciders I’ve ever had, mainstream or otherwise, Snowdrift Red bursts with notes of watermelon and sweet strawberry, but thanks to its acidity and tannins, this light, bright, fruity cider doesn’t drag you down with a sugary finish.