30 Best Ciders

Frederick Goussin Heritage 1900 Cuvee Tradition
Photo: Courtesy of Shiverick Imports

Often dismissed as a fruit-forward alternative to beer, cider has the capacity to stun those who dig past the yellow and fizzy mainstream sugar bombs. In process, cider is actually far more akin to wine: Much as fine wine is simply fermented grapes, traditional cider is made entirely from apple (or pear) juice—and when produced this way, the results can be equally complex. So where to start? Here are 30 incredible artisan ciders—including several forward-thinking choices—from major apple regions across the U.S., as well as the three best known international cider countries: England, Spain, and France.

01 of 30

Oyster River Winegrowers Wildman Cider

Oyster River Wild Man Cider
Joanna Spinks

Great cider is made like wine, respecting the fruit and the process. Maine's Oyster River Winegrowers prove that fact with their wild fermented Wildman Cider that's bursting with an unexpected mix of citrusy and spicy flavors.

02 of 30

Farnum Hill Farmhouse

Best Hard Ciders

Don't call it a comeback—Farnum Hill's been here for years. A grandfather of cider's resurgence, this New Hampshire brand has been producing its traditional American takes since the 1980s. Sure, they've updated a bit by finally canning their signature Farmhouse Cider in 2018, but the flavors are still classic: acidic and tannic with earthy flourishes.

03 of 30

Shacksbury Dry

Best Hard Ciders

Vermont's Shacksbury Cider has been a leader in the modern American cider revolution, and anything they produce is worth a try—whether it's their juniper berry-accentuated Vermonter or a hip collaboration with tastemakers like Other Half Brewing or Momofuku. But if you want to start simple, grab a can of their classic Shacksbury Dry: You'll be hard-pressed to find a more complex-yet-refined farmhouse-style cider in a can.

04 of 30

Windfall Orchard Ice Cider

Windfall Orchard Ice Cider
Jack Duncan

Vermont's Windfall Orchards is an incredible place—its mere 3-acres of land somehow feature over 80 apple varieties. More than 30 of those are used to make this luscious, stone fruit-tinged ice cider that works as the perfect finish to any meal.

05 of 30

Blackduck Crabby Pip

Best Hard Ciders

Establishing the gold standard in quaffable yet unbelievably textured American farmhouse ciders, Blackduck's John Reynolds is a master of using long delicate fermentations to coax an unprecedented level of New York terroir into every sip. Everything this cidery releases is world-class, but the depth of flavor in their Perry—which is made with 24 different pear varieties, both from the orchard and foraged—can feel life-changing on first taste.

06 of 30

Hudson Valley Farmhouse Esopus Spitzenburg

Best Hard Ciders

Hudson Valley Farmhouse has perfected the art of delightfully dirty ciders, like digging into a piece of unwashed fruit you've picked right off the tree: juicy, citrusy, seedy, awesome. Their single varietal Esopus Spitzenburg—the namesake apple dating back to the 1700s—is especially revelatory, opening with delicate celery notes before transitioning to a lightly tart and dry finish. A unique winner!

07 of 30

Embark Craft Ciderworks Crab Series Vol #1

Embark Crab Series Vol #1
Courtesy of Embark Craft Ciderworks

With a substantial contribution from multiple varieties of crabapple, this New York cider has great tannic structure balancing out its subtle sweetness before finishing like a dry white wine.

08 of 30

Eve's Northern Spy

Eve's Northern Spy
Evan Sachs

This sparkling cider made exclusively from Northern Spy apples from Eve's Cidery in New York thrives in its understated glory, crisp, dry and nearly champagne-like.

09 of 30

Redbyrd Workman's Dry

Redbyrd Workman’s Dry
Jason W. Koski

When Redbyrd says "dry," this New York cidery means it. Their Workman's Dry has no residual sugar whatsoever. The result is a bright, tart cider that coaxes out plenty of fruit flavors without any apple sweetness.

10 of 30

Angry Orchard Walden Hollow

Best Hard Ciders

Yes, America's largest cider producer also dabbles in more serious upmarket offerings thanks to their Ciderhouse Collection. So if lack of familiarity is a barrier to entry, skip Angry Orchard's capped bottles, and grab one of their 750-milliliter corked quaffs. Walden Hollow is a tart and slightly tannic counterpoint to the brand's more apple juice-like mainstream products. Utilizing New York-grown heirloom apples, it's a solid introduction to traditional styles.

11 of 30

Graft Farm Flor

Best Hard Ciders

A favorite of the experimental craft beer crowd, cidermaking wunderkind Kyle Sherrer's Graft Cider may be the most innovative producer on the market. The brand's ever-expanding lineup includes far-out creations inspired by the likes of Moscow mules and plum sake. But you can't go wrong sticking to Graft's signature dry farmhouse cider, Farm Flor, between testing their more kitchen-sink concepts.

12 of 30

ANXO Cidre Blanc

Best Hard Ciders

As the name implies, this cider is fermented with wine yeast, resulting in a drinkable, vinous cider that still offers complex flourishes of acidity and funk—a great rustic alternative to a bright white like Sauvignon Blanc. Plus it's sold in cans, so Cidre Blanc travels better than many wines.

13 of 30

Sapwood Cellars Golden Empire of York

Best Hard Ciders

Cider shouldn't always be compared to beer, but that doesn't mean the drinks can't get along. After opening in 2018, Maryland's Sapwood Cellars immediately emerged as one of the best producers of sour beers in the country. Sours and naturally-fermented ciders can offer similar flavor profiles, so it's fitting that, in 2020, Sapwood finally made good the breadth of its "Cellars" and released this cider made from Virginia apples and fermented with their house saison yeast.

14 of 30

Left Food Charley Henry's Pippin

Left Foot Charley's Henry's Pippin
Beryl Striewski

Eric West, founder of Cider Guide, highly recommends this blended cider made from Michigan heirloom apples by the state's Left Food Charley winery and cidery. "Henry's Pippin is a complex yet approachable cider made by blending different vintages," a technique known as the Solera Method, West explains.

15 of 30

Virtue Lapinette

Virtue Lapinette
Courtesy of Virtue Cider

Former Goose Island brewmaster Gregory Hall started Virtue after a trip to an English cider festival left him thinking he could make equally great ciders in Michigan. With Lapinette, a French-style cidre with flashes of farmhouse, he proved he was right.

16 of 30

JK's Scrumpy

JK’s Scrumpy
Courtesy of JK'S Farmhouse Ciders

No cider list is complete without a proper Scrumpy, a simple farmhouse cider typically made from whatever apples are on hand, and Michigan's JK's Farmhouse Ciders is an institution, that has been churning out bold but drinkable organic cider for over 150 years.

17 of 30

Austin Eastciders Texas Honey

Austin Eastciders Texas Honey
Gillian Shewaga

Though great ciders can be delightfully delicate or tantalizingly funky, sometimes you just want a cider that can be tossed back on a warm day. Austin Eastciders Texas Honey is perfectly built for its home state's summer weather but has the mouthfeel and backbone to remind you this cider has substance.

18 of 30

Trowbridge Apple Cider

Best Hard Ciders

Winemaker Darek Trowbridge fell into cidermaking at the request of a friend, yet still managed to knock it out of the park with his first product: Troy MMXIII. The Troy brand eventually faltered, but Trowbridge Apple Cider is Darek's lasting tribute to his original 2013 creation: Built around apples of both known and unknown varieties, this cider from California's Russian River Valley is then spiked with a bit of quince juice and barrel fermented on the lees for 10 month, resulting in drink as complex and delicate as the region's great wines.

19 of 30

Tilted Shed Lost Orchard

Best Hard Ciders

Massively tannic and intensely bitter, Lost Orchard from California's Tilted Shed uses apples sourced from abandoned cider orchards in Sonoma County and manages to conjure up flavors that many cideries have been neglecting.

20 of 30

EZ Orchards Poire

E.Z. Orchards Cidre Poire
Courtesy of E.Z. Orchards Cidre

Oregon's EZ Orchards' ciders are similar in character to the man behind them, Kevin Zielenski: approachably humble, but bursting with complexity beneath the surface. His Poire, a French-style perry, balances flourishes of fruity sweetness with a delightful minerality.

21 of 30

Art+Science Humble Cider

Best Hard Ciders

The best ciders often have a vinous quality, but for wine fans not fully sold on cider, here's a chance to cheat: With Symbiosis, the incredible Oregon cidery Art + Science co-ferments foraged apples and Gruner Veltliner grapes to create this 50-50 cider-wine hybrid. The lightly-sparkling, wild-fermented result offers the best of both worlds: the heft of white wine lifted by cider's lighter character.

22 of 30

Reverend Nat's Sacrilege Sour Cherry

Reverend Nat’s Sacrilege Sour Cherry
Courtesy of Reverend Nat's Hard Cider

World-class ciders don't need any additional fruit accompaniment, but that's not to say interesting additions can't coalesce into something wonderful. Refined cider diehards may consider Sacrilege Sour Cherry from Oregon's Reverend Nat's so sour cherry-forward that it's worthy of its descriptor; however, some palates will find its subtle kick of spicy ghost chili pepper undeniable.

23 of 30

Snowdrift Cider Company Red

Best Hard Ciders

This rosé cider—made entirely from red-fleshed apples—has a distinct flavor like few others and crossover appeal as natural as its pink hue: 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.

24 of 30

Dunkertons Organic Dry

Best Hard Ciders

The United Kingdom's appreciation for traditional, slightly funky ciders significantly predates the trend in America. Dunkertons is a classic British brand, now available on U.S. shores, but just the nose on this balanced, earthy cider will transport you back across the Atlantic.

25 of 30

Oliver's At the Hop

Best Hard Ciders

Herefordshire, England's Oliver's Cider and Perry has garnered acclaim for its small batch, native fermented ciders with incredible balance and restraint. And yet, as good as these are, Tom Oliver's most attention-grabbing work is his hopped ciders which rest a flowery, herbal layer atop his always flawless British cider base.

26 of 30

Little Pomona Disco Nouveau

Little Pomona Disco Nouveau
Christian Stolte / Sidear

The most exciting modern cidermakers operate at the intersection of tradition and innovation. Little Pomona—launched from a 120-tree cider apple orchard in Herefordshire in 2017—understands the importance of respecting fruit while catering to current sensibilities, and their first product to be sold in America speaks to that larger ethos: Disco Nouveau uses pink-fleshed Discovery (aka "Disco") apples bottled in the trendy "pét-nat" style.

27 of 30

Zapiain Sidra Natural

bottle of Zapiain Sidra Natural
Courtesy of Zapiain

Basque County in northern Spain is home to one of the world's most distinctive cider traditions, featuring intensely wild and acetic cider that is best enjoyed "txotx" style (aka, shooting right out of the side of the barrel). A classic example of the region, Zapiain's beauty is in the taste buds of the beholder, offering light citrus notes for sidra beginners, but with enough edge to please an expert palate.

28 of 30

Gurutzeta Sagardo Sidra Natural

Gurutzeta Sagardo Sidra Natural
Courtesy of Gurutzeta Cider

Most Basque-style sidras have a similar flavor profile: lemon/citrus acidity and a touch of funk. But if you're looking for one that's really willing to walk on the wild side, give Gurutzeta a try: This barnyard-y yet tannic cider can feel like it's almost out of control, but that might just be what you're looking for.

29 of 30

Famille Dupont Cidre Bouché

Best Hard Ciders

Mainland Europe's two most legendary regional ciders are the Basque-style "sidras" of Spain and the Norman-style "cidres" of France. Domaine Dupont's classic take on a brut cidre captures the latter Normandy style to a tee: bubbly, juicy, tannic, bright and just a touch of farmhouse funk.

30 of 30

Domaine de la Galotiere Poire de Glace

Best Hard Ciders

Beyond apple cider, France also has a long history of working with pears. Poire de Glace from La Galotiere distills—or more literally, freezes—this tradition down to its essence, leaving behind what may be the world's best ice perry. This 9.5-pecent sipper has the sweetness to pair with dessert but attacks the palate sharply before transitioning into a long sour finish that will leave you tearing through this traditionally thin 375-mililiter bottle at an alarming speed.

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