Need something sublime to sip with a burger and fries, or craving a cold beverage that will put a little pep in your step? Author Erin James says there’s a cider for that.

The rise of hard cider today in North America isn’t because our forefathers chugged it or the beverage market needed more gluten-free options to quench the thirst of conscientious CrossFit fanatics. Cider has stepped into the limelight because the consumer demanded it. An educated, eager craft drinker has asked for something beyond the hard lemonades and spiked root beer. The craft drinker requests a drink as complex as she is, and cider combines fruit, history, and flavor in one intricate, storied tipple.

What else is great about cider? No matter what the need or occasion, there’s one (or more) to suit your taste.

cider for every occasion

Photo by Mars Vilaubi, excerpted from Tasting Cider

Need a refreshing cold one after a long day?

There’s a cider for that — like The Hatchet from Sonoma Cider (Healdsburg, CA). This father-son-run operation uses organic Northwest apples to make their Sonoma-based ciders, with sleek, self-explanatory packaging and amiable flavors. The Hatchet is off-dry, uncomplicated in its fruit, finishing crisp and true. 6% ABV

Or, try the still Gravity from Castle Hill Cider (Keswick, VA). A blend of Virginian cultivars like Golden Grimes and English bittersweets like Dabinett, this still cider from the centuries-old property shows aromas of peach, white flowers, and citrus rind, with an off-dry palate that melds stone fruit with grapefruit flavors and acid. 7.1% ABV

Want to pop some bubbles to celebrate?

There’s a cider for that — such as Rosé Sparkling from Cidrerie Michel Jodoin (Rougemont, QC). A signature style for the Montérégie cider house, the rosy-tinted Geneva apple is fermented in the traditional Champagne method for sparkling wine and aged on the lees for 15 months. Fresh apple, peach, and red berry aromas transfer to the palate, which is medium bodied but light and bright. 7% ABV

Or try Farnum Hill’s Extra Dry (Poverty Lane Orchards and Farnum Hill Ciders, Lebanon, NH). Bubbly and radiant in its bone-dry quality, this is maker Stephen Wood’s top choice for sipping. In a complex balancing act, fruit, earth, acid, and tannin join forces to make a cider that could take the place of red wine at a meal. 8.5% ABV

rose cider

Growing feral worldwide, red-fleshed apples lend their color and startling flavors to rosé ciders. Photo by Mars Vilaubi, excerpted from Tasting Cider.

Craving something to sip along with a cheeseburger and fries?

Grab some Uncle John’s Apple Pear (Uncle John’s Hard Cider, St. John’s, MI). A recent year-round addition to the grower’s cider portfolio, farm-fresh Michigan Bartlett pear juice is added to the ferment for a delightful fruit-basket flavor that finishes fresh, semisweet, and approachable. A recipient of multiple awards and many good times. 6.5% ABV

Or, try the hop-and-lemongrass-infused Grasshopp-Ah from Colorado Cider Company (Denver, CO). Tenured brewmaster Brad Page found his calling in cider and took a little beer influence with him in this hopped cider that also receives a dose of lemongrass. Citrus and apple aromas and flavors are married in this affable easy drinker. 6.5% ABV

hopped ciders

Grasshopp-Ah (Colorado Cider Company, Denver, CO) receives a dose of lemongrass along with hops, and it’s just one of the many hopped ciders on the North American market. Photo by Mars Vilaubi, excerpted from Tasting Cider.

How about a picnic in the park?

The easy-packing cider of choice could be cans of Seattle Cider Company’s (Seattle, WA) Dry. One of the first truly dry ciders to hit a large-scale commercial market, this unfiltered cider is canned in a tallboy in four-packs and highlights pure, clean Washington dessert fruit. Flower, orange, and green apple aromatics supply the bouquet while stone fruit and red apple fill the dry palate. 6.5% ABV

Or try Argus Fermentables Ciderkin (Argus Cidery Fermentables, Austin, TX). A segue from the more traditional ciders of the Argus Cidery, this line of cans delivers straightforward cider sipping. Made from reconstituted apple pomace and fermented naturally, this low-alcohol cider is dry, fruit-forward, and incredibly refreshing. 4.5% ABV

Want to snuggle up around the campfire?

Try Liberty Ciderworks’s (Spokane, WA) barrel-aged Stonewall. General “Stonewall” Jackson, alleged lover of mixing bourbon and cider, receives a nod with this limited-release tipple from the eastern Washington maker. Borrowing whiskey barrels from a neighboring distillery, Liberty’s oak-soaked cider is approachably dry with wood, vanilla, and baked apple flavors, finishing with a nourishing, heady zing. 8.5% ABV

Or try the chai-infused Ember from Far from the Tree Cider (Salem, MA). What was once a winery dream became a cider reality when the couple behind this urban maker began fermenting apples instead. A fall release, the semisweet Ember is infused with toasted chai, smoked vanilla and burnt sugar to complement and add a spiced spark to the ripe apple base. 6.9% ABV

Want to add some pep to your step?

There’s even a cider for that, with Vander Mill’s Totally Roasted. With two locations in Spring Lake and Grand Rapids, this Michigan cidery ramps up their cider line with orchard-driven sippers alongside unique blends and infusions like this cider spiked with cinnamon, pecans, and vanilla. Spicy, nutty, and juicy with fruit, this cider could easily replace a morning coffee. 6.8% ABV

Or try Reverend Nat’s Deliverance Ginger Tonic (Reverent Nat’s Hard Cider, Portland, OR). This sipper compiles the spice from gallons of pure squeezed gingerroot juice with hand-cut lemongrass, hand-extracted quinine from Peruvian cinchona tree bark and fresh citrus juice to an off-dry dessert apple blend. The result has been a cider cult-classic, promoting the natural health benefits of all ingredients involved. 6.1% ABV

Photo of apples © Colin Bishop, Northwest Cider Association. Cider descriptions excerpted from Tasting Cider © 2017 by Sip Publishing. All rights reserved.

Erin James

Erin James is the author of Tasting Cider and the editor-in-chief of CIDERCRAFT® and Sip Northwest magazines. A tenured food, beverage, and travel writer, her work… See Bio

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Tasting Cider

by Erin James and CIDERCRAFT Magazine

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