Apples to Apples

6 ciders that will change your mind


Traditional hard apple cider is the spirit world's safe zone, a Switzerland of sorts where wine, beer, and liquor enthusiasts can lay down their arms and split a killer lamb burger. The best, most authentic versions give a wide berth to their deeply sweet, non-alcoholic brethren (the sort best served fireside), and don't recall apple juice so much as apple orchards; hiding behind the brilliant, tangy acidity, you'll find soil and peels, pine crates and autumn air.

If you've steered clear of hard cider because you fear it's too sweet or simple, swap your usual bottle of choice with some of our favorite producers from around the world.
1.) Doc's Draft Hard Apple Cider
Hudson Valley, New York

A terrific introduction to the world of hard cider, this semi-dry and fully effervescent entry from Warwick Valley Winery & Distillery has tons of fresh red apple off the top, and makes as much sense in summer as it does in winter. Drinkers who want the same richness of aromatics without any sweetness can graduate to the Doc's Draft Hard Pear.

2.) Bereziartua Cider
Basque Country, Spain

A traditional Basque cider with a fierce cult following, Bereziatrua is lightly fizzed and shot through with a tart, green-apple tang.

3.) Cyril Zangs Sparkling Cider

Normandy, France

This is 201-level: There's no sense here that cider is even a close cousin of apple juice. The dense, complex flavor profile showcases the tang and bitter-edge of apple peel, the damp, funky earth of orchard soil, and a nod to sweetness that shows up like a last minute suggestion. Brilliant with savory or salty dishes.

4.) Farnum Hill Sem-dry Sparkling Apple Cider
Lebanon, New Hampshire

Made with actual cider apples (as opposed to a blend of ciders and larger apple cultivars), Farnum Hill's semi-dry sparkling cider is gorgeously complex and aromatic, a true traditional cider with an purposeful hint of sweetness that makes it welcoming to hard cider newcomers.

5.) Trabanco Poma Aurea Sidra de Asturias
Gijón, Spain

This perfectly dry, twice-fermented (once in chestnut, once in bottle) cider is made using the méthode champenoise; there's a tang and bite of peel here before a sense of striking, juicy flesh. The cider's mouth-watering, fat-slicing acidity that makes this an option to replace astringent sparkling white wines.

6.) Harpoon
Windsor, Vermont

An easy sell to craft beer fanatics, Harpoon cider is made from a blend of apples (including McIntoshes), and gives off a gently yeasty, extraordinarily ripe and fruity character throughout.

Mentioned in this article


  • Snooth User: glheca
    179914 6

    You really should include West County ciders from Colrain, MA.

    Dec 07, 2010 at 4:48 PM

  • Hello everyone,

    Although these suggestions seems very appealing, I can encourage all of you to try some of the appel cider created in the province of Quebec, Canada. As you discover the depth and various tastes of these ciders, keep in mind that, as in Ontario with Ice Wines, Quebec is the largest Canadian producer of apple cider and ice apple cider... here are a few suggestions: (the Quebec license board), Pinnacle, Cidredie du Minot, Cidredie Michel Jodoin, La Face Cachée de la Pomme (served at Toqué, one of Montreal's best restaurant), and tons of others... Have fune!

    Dec 07, 2010 at 8:01 PM

  • Snooth User: louis1
    Hand of Snooth
    87525 24

    Crispin is another that should have been included:

    Dec 07, 2010 at 9:59 PM

  • Snooth User: artfusion
    346644 1

    Amazing you don't mention an british ciders, land of hundreds of ciders, though I am glad to hear what is good from america.
    I would recommend Mr. Whitehead's here in the UK:

    Dec 08, 2010 at 12:22 AM

  • It´s really nice you mention Gijon, from cider región Asturia (This region have the biggest cider consum in Europe close to 50L per person/year and with just 1mill people they produce 45 mill L hard cider, and 40 million champanoise cider). I was there last year and it´s amanzing you mention Poma Aurea....That´s one of the worst ciders i tasted in my live. As this cidermaker (Trabanco) has really good tradicional hard cider, this champanoise cider fail in nose as in mouth.

    Dec 08, 2010 at 3:05 AM

  • Hi all, we have listed North American cider producers at the Real Cider website - Cheers!

    Dec 08, 2010 at 4:14 AM

  • Snooth User: chriscage
    Hand of Snooth
    481309 1,045

    +1 to louie1 & artfusion......I especially like ice cider....Pinnacle makes an excellent one! As for UK/Irish, I've had the privilage of having Bulmer's of course, but I've tried Devil's Bit (very nice dry cider!) and Blackthorn, which I think is better than the readily available Strongbow. Anyways next time I'm in the States I will look for some of the ciders mentioned in the article!

    Dec 08, 2010 at 12:58 PM

  • For the best artisanal real apple flavor cocktail with flair try this "Baked Golden Apple" recipe from Simon Pearce, Vermont -

    Dec 08, 2010 at 8:24 PM

  • Snooth User: riredbird
    440209 128

    Vermont's Woodchuck Granny Smith, it's like Champagne it's so delicious!

    Dec 09, 2010 at 7:11 PM

  • If you live in the New York area and you've never had a chance to try Doc's Draft, I strongly suggest you do. You can get it at the Westchester Wine Warehouse -

    Dec 09, 2010 at 8:20 PM

  • Next time be sure to sample more artisan hard ciders from the US, like Farnum Hill, made by folks who grow cider apples chosen for cider making qualities. And check out hard cider below the Mason Dixon line at Virginia cidermakers Foggy Ridge Cider and Albemarle Ciderworks.

    Jan 20, 2011 at 6:17 PM

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