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The Cider Quest

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Somehow, Jenni and I decided to start trying hard ciders over the Christmas break.

Jenni likes sweeter drinks and foods, and I’m not a big fan of a lot of beer, and yet, there’s this common desire to drink more alcohol. Yes, I realize how that sounded…We’ll just go with it for now.

So hard cider became an option.

Here are some reviews and thoughts. (Dad, just go sit in the corner…I’m still experimenting with some dry ciders and haven’t found one I really like yet. So shush…) Let it be known here and now, though, that so far, I’ve just been playing in the shallow end of the domestic cider pool…No foreign stuff yet.

First: I bought a sampler pack of Angry Orchard and we tried that.

angry orchard bottlesThe sampler actually had four varieties, including the three here (Apple ginger, crisp apple, and traditional dry), and then a fourth “seasonal” option of apple cinnamon.

The crisp apple is the sweetest of the bunch. It’s refreshing, almost too easily drinkable, and one of those things that you don’t realize was alcoholic until after you’ve downed the bottle.

I liked the traditional dry as it’s sweet but also drier. Pour it over ice, and I really liked that as a nice dinner beverage. And the ginger was a good taste, too: sweet and dry, with that edge that’s almost like a good ginger ale.

crispin-cidersI’ve tried the original flavor of Crispin hard cider: it’s good, with a sweetness somewhere between the Angry Orchard traditional dry and crisp apple. But there’s something there that isn’t quite as smooth.

I want to try some of their other flavors, but their pricing is a bit higher than some others I’ve seen…Plus they only come in 4 packs at my local liquor store.

I just picked up another couple brands to try, and these are smaller producers, which so far has reflected well:


woodchuck ciderFirst is Woodchuck hard cider. Unlike Crispin and Angry Orchard which are owned by huge beer manufacturers, they’re a medium-sized operation based in Vermont. They produce a handful of varieties, though I started with their original flavor, dubbed, unoriginally, “Amber.”

I really liked this one. It’s sweet and dry, but without a noticeable edge, so it’s very smooth and easily drinkable.

Then there’s Ciderboys. This small producer, based in Wisconsin, has only been on the market for a couple of years. They offer only one pure cider: called First Press. The rest are fruit blends–cranberry, strawberry, peach and the like.

Ciderboys-First-PressBut they’ve gotten good reviews, and I agree. It’s a more apple flavored cider, so it’s sweeter than most, but you notice the zip of the alcohol, and you don’t get that with either Crispin or Angry Orchard.

I’m thinking I need to try the cranberry, but I don’t know about the others yet…

All in all, I’m addicted. I really like the flavors and the range of types of ciders there are. And hunting down options is kind of getting fun. So stay tuned for more reviews as I go.

See you tomorrow.