Hard Cider Rules

| July 4, 2015

hard ciderFor those of us who love a cold drink at cookouts and the beach, but not necessarily beer, hard cider is a wonderful alternative.

In fact, since my palate definitely prefers sweet rather than savory flavors, finding hard ciders has added a delicious compliment to burgers and BBQ’s this summer.

Hard Cider was one of the drinks of choice in the infancy of the U.S. The wide variety of apple trees in New England, the American heartland and the Northwest, yielded the openings of many breweries.

Cider continued its popularity until 1920, when the Volstead Act made prohibition a reality. Although the 18th amendment was repealed 13 years later in 1933, hard cider vanished from the American landscape for the next 60 years.

In the mid 1990’s craft beers started to emerge and some of the cider houses started to produce craft hard cider. Hard Cider is now the fastest growing alcoholic beverage category in the US and has a multitude of producers and varieties all over the country.

Each region and provider crafts their own unique combination of seasonal fruits and flavors to enhance their cider and personalize their brand.

We have picked out some favorites for you to try this summer that we think you will like as well as craft beer.

Woodchuck Cidery is located in Vermont and has a variety of gluten free ciders that pair well with many of our favorite summer foods and cheeses.

 Woodchuck’s latest year round cider is “Gumption” which is named in honor of PT Barnum and celebrates people who follow their own path. This cider has a bold flavor made from dry cider apples that is a perfect pairing with spicy, highly seasoned foods such as barbeque  or tapas.

The most delicious of Woodchuck’s seasonal cider is their “Summer time”, which is a little fruitier since it is crafted with blueberry juice and is a great pairing with creamy cheeses.

Woodchuck has a dozen year round and seasonal varieties and now has an app that give you an overview of their cider choices and the  events held at their cider house.

JK Scrumpy’s is another of our favorites, which is grown and fermented in the heartland of Michigan. The producer, Jim Koen takes great pride in the fact that his artisanal organic farmhouse style cider is truly one of a kind.

After the apples are harvested, they are pressed and allowed to slowly ferment for up to six months, then they are bottled and aged for several weeks in proper conditions. There are only two ingredients in JK Scrumpy’s Orchard Gate Gold: juice and yeast.  The quality of the cider and the unique fermentation process creates a crisp, clean cider with a creamy finish.

The Julian Cider Mill is a small family owned brewery in historic Julian, California and their light, crisp ciders are a must at any BBQ, picnic or beach party.  They are truly refreshing on a warm summer day. The biggest problem is deciding on a favorite; Is it the Apple Pie Cider with its combination of sweet and tart apples, the Cherry Bomb Cider or the Yummy “Knockout” Black and Blue Cider enhanced with the juice of sustainably grown blackberries and blueberries?

Once you try hard cider, you are sure to become a fan.  Enjoy!

Charlotte Goldblatt

cgoldblatt@dailyfoodandwine.com

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