Life

These Ciders Are Definitely Worth Chasing Down This Fall

There’s just something about a crisp and velvety cider that feels like the end of summer and beginning of fall in a glass. It is apple picking season after all. The sweeter ciders over ice in a pint glass under the shade of willow tree is the perfect late summer refresher. The drier and funkier ciders play right into the smell of damp bales of straw stacked high in a musty old barn as the leaves fall.

So what is cider exactly? Well, it’s not beer even though it usually sits on the shelf next to the beer. In reality, it should be next to the wine. Technically speaking, ciders are wines made with apples. It’s fermented apple juice that is sometimes lightly carbonated or even aged in oak. Case in point, the Germans still call this stuff “apfelwein” in some regions — that’s literally “apple wine.” But this is all just the base of what cider is.

As with most things in the booze world, ciders can vary greatly in style, execution, and innovation. Some ciders get hopped while others are spiked with seasonal fruits, fresh herbs, or various spices. So to help you parse which ciders you should be stocking in your fridge as the seasons turn, we decided to name ten of our favorite ciders at the moment. – Zach Johnston, Deputy Editor UPROXX Life

Zach’s Picks:

Finnriver Dry Hopped Cider

ABV: 6.5%
Average Price: $10 — 16.9-oz bottle

The Cider:

Washington state is one of the world’s biggest producers of apples. So, it should come as no surprise that some of the best ciders are from that region. This bottle is produced with 100 percent organic Washington apples. It’s fermented to be dry. It’s then dry-hopped for three days with locally sourced Cascade Hops. The result is a cider for beer fans.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a sense of a West Coast IPA with piney resin, flowers, and grapefruit imbued from the hops. There’s a nice dry grassy nature to the sip that melds wonderfully with those resin and floral notes. In the end, it’s equal parts refreshing and interesting.

Bottom Line:

I tend to drink a lot of this stuff when I’m downing oysters in the fall. The cidery is also just outside my hometown, so I’m partial.

Magners Original Irish Cider

ABV: 4.5%
Average Price: $12 — 6-pack

The Cider:

This is a classic pub order. Magners prides itself on using 17 varieties of apples, all grown in Ireland. They also wait until the apples are ripe enough to fall of the trees, so they’re ever-so-slightly overripe. The juice is then injected with a proprietary yeast strain via vats the cidery has used since 1935. Finally, the cider ages almost two years after filtration to clear it up.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a clear sweetness to the cider that feels a bit more like a Martinelli’s Sparkling Cider you’d get in America. The dryness leans into an orchard after the leaves fall. There’s a very slight floral nature that supports the bold apple presence. Overall, this is a very quaffable, classic cider.

Bottom Line:

This is the second-best thing to order at an Irish pub — after Guinness of course.

Seattle Cider Dry

ABV: 6.5%
Average Price: $11 — 4-pack

The Cider:

Back up in my old stomping grounds, Seattle Cider Company is doing great work in creating ciders that are just plain well-crafted. This cider is made with a mix of Granny Smith, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious, and Gala apples. While a lot of the ciders made at this cidery aim to blend the worlds of beer and cider, this one is laser-focused on creating a classic dry cider that lets the apples shine.

Tasting Notes:

Big notes of sweet apples play with blood orange and nectarine. There’s a flourish of lilac underneath all that fruit that leads to a sharply dry finish. The fruit loses its sweetness and brings a nice counterpoint of tartness to help the dry end shine.

Bottom Line:

This is a good 4-pack to bring to a backyard BBQ or out fishing or just to sip after a long week of work.

Crispin Browns Lane

ABV: 5.8%
Average Price: $10 — 4-pack

The Cider:

This is a marrying of California craft cider-making and classic English cider. Crispin imports bittersweet Cider apples from England to create this cider. That variety of apple is specifically grown for cider making and lends a drier/less sweet edge to the juice. The final product is blended and canned in California.

Tasting Notes:

Farmhouse funk and tart apples mingle up front. The apples sweeten a bit as a sense of honey peeks in with a very mild nutty underbelly as the farmhouse must really take hold. The sip ends dry, musty, slightly woody, and full of apple.

Bottom Line:

Since a lot of English ciders aren’t imported to the U.S., this is your chance to scratch that English cider itch. Grab a chunk of Stilton cheese and crack one of these open.

Pere Jules Cidre

ABV: 5%
Average Price: $14 — 750ml bottle

The Cider:

The French know what they’re doing when it comes to cider. Pere Jules Cidre sticks with France’s strict guidelines to only use 100 percent apple juice when making cider. The Norman juice uses apples sourced from protected apple orchards in the region and takes its time fermenting and aging the cider until it’s both light and deeply apple-y.

Tasting Notes:

Tart apples dance with plenty of straw and a slight barnyard funk. The sip edges into a vinous territory as mild musty barn notes lead back to a bold apple with a distant hint of vanilla.

Bottom Line:

This is the good stuff. Order it with a cheese plate with a nice side of charcuterie.

Chris’s Picks:

Virtue The Mitten

ABV: 6.8%
Average Price: $15.99 for a 750ml bottle

The Cider:

We all love bourbon barrel-aged beer. So why wouldn’t we enjoy bourbon barrel-aged cider, right? Well, Michigan-based cidery Virtue did just that. This cider — a 2020 Good Food Award Winner — is made from pressed Michigan apples. The fermented juice is then aged for up to a year in ex-bourbon barrels.

Tasting Notes:

The high acid-level of the apples works perfectly with the rich, toasted nature of the former bourbon barrels. The first sip, while fairly dry, imparts hints of toasted oak, vanilla, and rich caramel. But, it’s also full of the crisp, dry apple flavor cider fans expect.

Bottom Line:

This complex cider is perfect for fans of bourbon who are new to the cider world. It’s a perfect balance between dry cider and mellow, sweet bourbon.

Rootstock Belgian

ABV: 6.1%
Average Price: $12.10 for a six-pack

The Cider:

Rootstock, located in Williamson, New York, makes its all-natural cider using heritage and modern apples. All of the apples come directly from DeFisher Fruit Farms in the same town. While many cider brands load their products up with random flavors and ingredients, Rootstock only makes their cider with New York State apples and various cider yeasts. That’s it. Their Belgian was fermented with traditional Belgian beer yeast to create a unique flavor experience.

Tasting Notes:

This limited release was dropped in the spring and it might not be super easy to find right now. But, if you can get your hands on some, you’ll be met with the slightly yeasty flavor you’ve grown to expect from beers like Saison Dupont or Orval. But, since it’s a cider there are crisp apple, tropical fruit, and just a hint of banana all wrapped up in a semi-dry package.

Bottom Line:

This is the perfect cider for fans of Belgian beers who’ve been meaning to branch out into the world of apple-based hard beverages.

Austin Eastciders Cranberry

ABV: 5%
Average Price: $6 for a 16-ounce can

The Cider:

While we’re inundated with pumpkin-flavored items during the fall, some of the other seasonal flavors seem to get lost in the shuffle. One of the flavors the deserves more hype is cranberry. The folks at Austin Eastciders agree and that’s why they relaunched their limited-edition Cranberry Cider just in time for autumnal drinking. Made from a blend of bittersweet apples and real cranberry juice, this is what fall should taste like.

Tasting Notes:

When you think of a cranberry cider, you might assume its overly sweet. We assure you this light, refreshing, dry cider is full of tart cranberry flavor that works seamlessly with the crisp, subtly bitter apple cider. But, that’s not all, there’s also a hint of fresh raspberries and a nice crushable finish.

Bottom Line:

While the holidays are a few months off, this is the perfect cider to get you excited for turkey day and all of the mouth-watering side dishes.

Shacksbury Dry

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ABV: 5.5%
Average Price: $8.99 for a 4-pack

The Cider:

When it comes to putting everything on the table, Shacksbury Dry pulls no punches. This cider isn’t overly sweet like some of the mass-produced brands on the market. It’s dry. That’s why it says so in the name. It’s nuanced, complex, and made from a blend of apples that are shipped in from Dragon Orchard in Herefordshire, England as well as Dabinett apples grown in the cidery’s New England home.

Tasting Notes:

The result of this collaboration between England and the U.S. is noticeable from the first sip. This classic dry cider is tart, almost salty, and perfect for fans of gose beers. It’s a great cider to enjoy while you take a break from the darker beers of the season.

Bottom Line:

It’s definitely an acquired taste for those new to cider, but an experience you won’t soon forget.

Embark Old Marauder

ABV: 7%
Average Price: $12.99 for a 4-pack

The Cider:

Old Marauder is a complicated cider. This award-winning hard cider is made at Embark Ciderworks in Western New York using locally grown Jonagold, McIntosh, Cortland, and Ida Red apples. The name and the included apples were selected to pay homage to the decades-old tradition of growing apples in the region.

Tasting Notes:

Old Marauder is exactly what you hope for in a fall hard cider. It’s crisp, clean, dry, and perfectly tart. It has a subtle pear, sour apple flavor, and tastes more like a white wine than a hard cider.

Bottom Line:

Instead of grabbing a glass of white wine, opt for a pint of Old Marauder instead. It’s the crisp, refreshing way to end a long fall day.

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