It wasn't long ago that options for hard cider were generally limited to toothe-achingly-sweet or sourly bitter. This year, though, cider took off in a big way, with a wide variety of new labels and expressions widening options such that there's something for everyone. In case you missed the rush this fall, here are just a handful of the labels on shelves and at farmer's markets:
Angry Orchard Cinnful Apple: Angry Orchard has been knocking it out of the gates for awhile now, and people are paying attention to the brand. This latest seasonal release combines Angry Orchard's tangy, effervescent cider with spicy notes of cinnamon. It's also the company's first foray into using American apples, rather than European varieties. FYI, cidermaker David Sipes is a big fan of pairing hard cider with a variety of cheeses, from sharp cheddars to earthy bries and exotics like Robiola Rochetta. A perfect wintertime mini-escape. (also check out AO's new tart and earthy Strawman Cider, launched earlier this year). 5% ABV.
Stella Artois Cidre: The cider, from Anheuser-Busch-backed Belgian producer Stella Artois, launched last May and continues to roll into bars and stores all around the country. Designed to pair with food (or drink on its own), some cider purists find the cider (made with apples found in popular wine-growing regions of Europe and the U.S.) a little mild for their tastes. But for the casual cider fan seeking a serious dry cider, that moves them away from candy-sweet offerings, Cidre is an excellent option. 4.5% ABV.
Rekorderlig Fruit Ciders: The Nordic countries have seen a big boost in popularity whether in restaurants, bars or products not from IKEA. Out of Sweden and launched in the U.S. this fall come this group of invigorating fruit ciders. If you're seeking something beyond apple, it behooves you to explore this innovative range, including Strawberry-Lime, Pear, Wild Berries and more. 4.5% ABV
Jack Daniel's Winter Jack Tennessee Cider: As the flavored whiskey market continues to expand, the creators of the very popular Tennessee Honey have offered up a new seasonal blend, Tennesee Cider. The combination of JD's classic Tennesssee-style whiskey with hard cider in an easygoing low-alcohol expression. The company recommends drinking it warm (perfect for winter), which brings out the orange, apple and cinnamon spice notes. 15% ABV, $18
Hudson Valley Farmhouse Cider: Bottled "fresh, local and in small batches" by Breezy Hill Orchard in Staatsburg NY, the large-format bottle has an almost Colonial feel to it. The juice inside tastes fresh, and is bright, apple-ly and mild. Easy drinking for fireside nights spent planning overthrowing the British or authoring the next Rip Van Winkle. This one is found at Amsterdam Market and farmer's markets throughout NYC (also in growlers and pony kegs), or online. 6.8% ABV
Thirsty for more? Check out National Spirits Examiner or NY Drinks Examiner.
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FTC Disclaimer: The author sometimes receives product samples for review, which carry no cash value and cannot be re-sold, and sometimes attends press events such as lunches or cocktail parties, designed to promote a given product. The author is not paid by any alcohol manufacturer, retailer or distributor, or provided compensation apart from revenue from an assigning publishing company for editorial publication. Opinions are the author's own. By the way, you should be 21 or older to read this page. Author has received sample bottles of some of these products, been invited to launches of others, and reached deep into his own pockets to drink the happily old-fashioned Hudson Valley Hard Cider. Huzzah!