Aspall Cyder - Cider and Vinegar

5 favourite ciders from US Cider Week

02nd November 2013

Henry's Travels

I have been sampling US craft ciders for over 10 years now, and in those early years, many I tasted were not that well-made, lacked identity and were generally too much of a challenge to drink. Whilst that is undoubtedly still true for some of the products out there now, the really good US craft ciders are simply stunning.

These are not volume producers – they leave that to the mainstream makers – these are true artisans who make small but epic.  Here are my 5 favourites  from US Cider Week... 

  • No.01

    Hidden Star – Slyboro

    Based in Granville New York, I hadn’t tried a Slyboro Cider in all the time I’ve been coming over; to my shame. I found this cider for the first time in Cooper’s Beer Bar in the East Village. Bar manager David Clarke kindly popped a bottle for me and I was hooked from the first sniff. Hidden Star is a wonderful semi-sweet cider made from apples grown at Hicks Orchard where the business is based. It is clean, crisp, richly aromatic and delightfully smooth with a good balancing acidity. It does not taste like an 8% cider.

  • No.02

    Dooryard – Farnum Hill

    Farnum Hill was established by Steve Wood in Lebanon New Hampshire; Steve is now one of the most venerated cider makers in the US. He produces an array of fabulous ciders with traditional English Bittersweet varieties out of the wonderfully named Poverty Lane Orchards. I came across Door Yard in a bar called Alder whilst chatting to the delightful manager Kevin Denton. It’s a batch by batch product – literally what they have in the yard at the time of calling. The liquid I sampled was still, robustly dry but with a good astringency. It matched beautifully with the tapas we were eating. I don’t know the alcohol strength but it was a good night…..

  • No.03

    Percheron – Virtue Cider

    Anyone familiar with the craft beer scene in America will know Goose Island of Chicago. A long time pioneer and leader of the craft beer movement when Anheuser Busch came knocking in 2011. With the resulting swag, master brewer Greg Hall shifted his attentions to cider making out of Fennville Michigan under the name Virtue Cider. He has since been experimenting with different styles of cider, taking much influence from makers in England, France and Spain. Percheron is a “cidre fermier”, literally Farm Cider. This is a pleasantly dry and well balanced cider with an attractive farmyard aroma and strong hints of vanilla oak. It weighs in with a solid 9% abv. I was lucky enough to see Greg doing a cheese and cider matching session when I tasted this. Wonderful on its own and a fabulous match to the cheese.

  • No.04

    Northern Spy – Eden Ice Cider

    Eden are part of a growing segment of the cider market, namely ice cider. On a similar principle to Eiswein, apples and or juice are frozen in the harsh winters of North America and Canada to remove much of the water before fermentation. Eden’s version is a single-varietal ice cider aged in French oak barrels. Northern Spy is an ancient variety of apple from America and was hugely popular at the end of the 19th century. This Ice Cider has a sweet tart flavour and subtle hints of oak and is wonderfully delicate and spiced. It has an abv of 10%. If you haven’t tried an ice cider, I strongly recommend you do soon; and if you can’t get out to the States or Canada to purchase, try Blenheim Superb from Once Upon a Tree. 

  • No.05

    Eve’s Cidery – Autumn’s Gold

    Eve’s Cidery is a small family run orchard and cidery located in Van Etten, in the Finger Lakes region of New York State. Autumn’s Gold is an off dry cider and naturally sparkling, its bubbles coming from an in bottle fermentation. Autumn’s Gold is a blend of English, French and American cider apples. It has a distinctive fruity nose and a rich, warm texture and lingering finish. Like the rest on my list, alcohol is wine like at 10%.