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Hard cider – the sweet upgrade from beer

Posted by Nikki Erpelding, wines and spirits manager at Byerly’s St. Louis Park
Friday, November 2, 2012

What’s all the buzz about hard cider? Isn’t it just fermented apple juice? Technically it is, but there’s so much more to it than that. There’s a hard cider movement going on right now that rivals the craft beer phenomenon.

For those who just can’t swallow another beer, there’s a sweet upgrade in hard cider. Ciders range in style from dry to dessert “Ice wine” styles. They vary in alcohol content, ranging from 2 to 8.5 percent, depending on the fermentation process. Ciders pair great with most foods and are Celiac friendly (no gluten). Hard ciders are also being made with different fruits (pears, limes, raspberry) and other unique ingredients, like sake yeasts, to make super premium craft ciders.

While hard cider is slowly gaining popularity in the United States, it’s a staple drink in Europe. Traveling to places like Sweden, you’ll see Rekorderlig and Kopparbergs, Ireland is home to Bulmers and Kelly’s, and in England you’ll find Strongbow and Magners.

Imported favorites you’ll find in the states:

  • Strongbow
  • Magners
  • Blackthorn

Some of the top brands in the Midwest market include:

  • Samuel Smith’s – they make an organic cider that is light in body, medium dry with a clean apple flavor and gentle apple blossom finish. I would pair this cider with a pork loin or roast.
  • Angry Orchard’s Crisp – has a slightly sweet, ripe apple flavor; great with sushi or spicy foods.
  • Crispin – it’s a super-premium brand with 10 different limited release ciders. Crispin also makes classic style hard ciders and they now have a 3-liter box of cider made from fresh pressed apples, fermented with classic white wine yeasts. Try pairing Crispin Honey Crisp Hard cider with Vermont Cheddar on a graham cracker with a drizzle of honey.

Enjoy the exciting tastes of hard cider this fall! Instead of bobbing for apples, try this recipe from the Angry Orchard!


  • 1 oz Amaretto
  • 1 oz Orange Juice
  • Splash of Cinnamon Schnapps
  • Fill with Angry Orchard Crisp Apple

In a pint glass over ice combine 1 oz. amaretto, 1 oz. orange juice, fill with Angry Orchard Crisp Apple and top with a splash of cinnamon schnapps. If you're feeling really adventures you can rim the glass with cinnamon sugar before adding the ingredients.

Tags: hard cidercider

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