As the leaves turn and the colors change, as each dining hall presents its assortment of apples with varying quality, as the temperature begins to drop (well, maybe), you will inevitably find yourself answering the question of “what should we drink?” with one word: cider.
This leaves you with the burden of figuring out exactly which cider to drink, and if your answer is “Angry Orchard,” then this is precisely the article for you. We did the research, and suffered many a mediocre cider so you won’t have to. Drop all your preconceived notions about apples and alcohol and pay attention to the Record’s “In-Cider Scoop.”
Best signature cider:
If you’re new to the wide world of cider, the number of choices can be overwhelming. Nine Pin’s Signature Cider is a perfect starter to transition you gently into that world. The Albany-based company’s signature blend is sweet, but not as sugary as a bottle of Angry Orchard. The taste is soft, and the apple flavor rises through the gentle fizz of bubbles.
Best dry cider:
After Nine Pin, take any of Citizen Cider’s numerous blends for a whirl — if you’re looking for something dry, give Wit’s Up a try. According to the bottle, it’s the “cider maker’s cider.” We’re not really sure what that means, but clearly people who know a lot about this are pretty convinced by it.
Wit’s Up is an intense dry cider experience, with an organic, earthy taste. The loamy flavor arises among intense bubbles. As far as ciders go, it’s fairly bare-bones, but bare-bones in a rustic sense, like an unheated cabin in Hopkins forest.
Citizen Cider is based out of Burlington, Vt., and also produces one of the best flavored ciders, the ginger-infused Dirty Mayor, as well as a delicious traditional cider.
Best flavored cider:
Champlain Orchards Cidery’s McIntosh & Maple combines two of Vermont’s favorite things: apples and grade-A maple syrup. The Shoreham, Vt., orchard produces seasonal ciders like the Vermont Peach and the Honey Plum, but the McIntosh & Maple is a year-round staple, and a bronze medalist in the 2015 Great International Beer & Cider Competition. Simultaneously sweet and refreshing, with a little tartness, the cider taste is buoyed but not overwhelmed by the woody maple taste. This cider is an easy choice if you’re trying to impress someone or give a gift — you really can’t go wrong.
Best hoppy cider:
This cider hails from well outside the northeast bubble, to a place where fall looks much different: Texas. Austin Eastciders produces one of the most interesting taste experiences that we tried with its Hopped Cider. This cider is a combination of bittersweet apples and hopped tea, and falls on the drier side of the cider spectrum. The hops are surprisingly mellow and pleasant, and the flavors work smoothly together.
You’re not going to want to chug this one (or any of them, come on), but it’s a fascinating blend of tastes, just like some of the other ciders from Austin Eastciders, including Texas Honey and Blood Orange.
We can’t end this article without talking about the Pumpkin Blend from Downeast’s Cider House. Does fall make you feel like putting on your fuzzy socks and warm flannel, jumping in leaf piles and ordering a pumpkin spice flavored anything? This may be the one for you.
It’s not particularly appetizing at first glance: This cider looks similar to Mountain Dew, and you can’t open the can without getting a strong waft of pumpkin. But close your eyes and drink up because the tones of cinnamon and nutmeg blend perfectly with the bitter pumpkin for an experience that takes fall out of the air and into your mouth. The taste is significantly milder than the smell, and the pumpkin aftertaste made for a surprise crowd favorite here at the Record.
What is your favorite cider? Say goodbye to your mediocre cider days, give these a try and let us know.