I love me some cider, Fangirls. Other than a strong Tom Collins, hard cider is my drink of choice. However, when I’m thirsty, I don’t reach for those sugary and weak brands discreetly produced by big name companies. I live in Upstate New York, the land of craft brewing. Little do people know, that goes for a whole more than beer. The craft cider revolution is upon us, Fangirls. To my pleasure, it’s beginning to really boom in the northeast, and I’ve got a few favorite ciders to share with the world.
A lot of people hate on hard cider. I can certainly understand why. Most people see it as a sweet substitute to beer, something that doesn’t taste strong but that will hit you in the same way. That is certainly not the case when you take the time to find the good stuff. Smith & Forge, Angry Orchard, you can find them everywhere and it’s easy to think that they are your only options. But a trip to a beverage center, tasting room, or even a cidery can prove otherwise very quickly. I can’t speak for the other parts of the country, but in the last year or so I’ve seen multiple cideries pop up around New York and it’s neighbors that are pumping out some truly delicious, hand crafted shit. Most of them are using locally grown apples, crafting & bottling everything by hand, and are sure to add a heaping spoonful of love & passion.
Downeast Cider House – From what I have tasted so far, Downeast Cider House is the best cider company coming out of New England. They use locally grown ingredients, freshly press their fruit, and never use anything from concentrate. The ingredients label on the can actually just list the fruit that is in it, and sorbate which they list as being for preserving. That’s it. It tastes like delicious fruit juice with a perfect bite.
Downeast Hard Honey – This was certainly a yummy cider. It was best really, really cold. Drinking it on a hot beach was a dream. It’s a very simple blend, all you taste is crisp apples and a hefty honey punch, and that’s really all you need.
Downeast Cranberry Blend – This is by far my favorite cider from this company. It is so damn tasty. It’s outrageously refreshing, so crisp and perfectly tart. I can suck it down much too easily. Luckily, it only comes in a four pack, so when I’m drinking it along side a friend, I can pace myself a bit. This cider is really almost too good.
Nine Pin Ciderworks – Nine Pin is by far my favorite cider. Maybe the fact that it’s made 25 minutes from me makes me a little bias; I’m a real sucker for that pride in local goods. Maybe it’s because I believe New York apples are the simply the best. But it also could be that they just make incredible cider. These guys again use all locally grown ingredients, and take so much pride in the produce they can find in New York. They’ve got a number of ciders that you can find in stores all over the New York capital region, all deliciously bottled up in large bottles or their new cans. In addition to the 5 or so varieties they’ve got out in the world, they’ve got a tasting room that is a lot more like a wonderland. There you can taste many of the experimental varieties they’ve been cooking up. They’ve come up with more than 30 different kinds of ciders, some of which I’m hoping reach the shelves soon enough. When it comes to cider, these guys are the best of the best.
Nine Pin Signature Blend – Being plain Jane of the bunch doesn’t mean that this is anything short of amazing. This is an incredibly delectable cider that tastes like crisp, tart apples with notes of white wine. Most days, no other cider even crosses my mind, this is what I want to be drinking.
Nine Pin Ginger – This is a slightly sweet, smooth tasting cider that has a real bite from the alcohol and the spice of the ginger. It comes right at the end, cutting through the sweetness of the apple with a lingering spice. Yum. Nine Pin Belgian – The Belgian blend is a delightful, fruity cider that is up their as one of my favorites. It’s very light, very drinkable, it has just enough of everything. It’s very refreshing, and has a bit less of a bite than it’s other friends at Nine Pin. It’s smooth, yet vibrant, and oh so tasty.
So there you have it, Fangirls. A taste of what cider really has to offer from the northeast. There are plenty of cideries out their in the north that I have yet to get my hands on, but mark my words I will try them all. The promise of tasty cider is much to exciting to leave any stone unturned. Outside of the northeast, I also recommend B.Nektar, a craft brand out of the midwest that also makes a lot of tasty mead. Though, that about completes my knowledge of cider makers outside of the area. I know they’re out there, though, Fangirls, and if cider is or might be something you enjoy, get out there and find the good stuff. Most importantly, drink responsibly, and drink well.
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