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Favorite Hard Cider

A board post on "What is Hard Cider" came at the same time I had three different hard cider varieties in my fridge for an at home tasting. I'm in love with Woodchuck Amber. What is your favorite hard cider?

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  1. Cidre Bouche du Normande, from Etienne Dupont. Though if you're in love with Woodchuck it might not be to your liking.

    1. Magners and Cider Jack are my two favorites.

      1. Cidre Bouche du Normande is a good one. Woodchuck is too sweet for me. I like Strongbow, Aspall and Blackthorne. Wandering Aengus Ciderworks makes three nice ones ranging in dryness. Fox Barrel is good.

        All time favorite for both my wife and myself has to be Strongbow.

        1. i enjoy the woodchuck amber and the woodchuck 802 dark and dry.
          i brought a couple bottles of FANTASTIC cider from market in England and I can't remember what the brand was.
          I enjoy strongbow if i can find it on draft - which is not very often. :(

          1. J. K. Scrumpy's organic cider is deeeelicious. And a great sauce base to deglaze a pan after pan roasting pork. Much more what I look for in a cider than the champagne-y Etienne DuPont stuff (which, admittedly, is the best of that ilk - just not my cup of... errr... cider).

            Has anyone seen the Calvados/cider blend that DuPont put out? I've been waiting to see bottles but it hasn't happened yet.

            There's also a cider from Basque whose name escapes me that is unbelievable. Very different. It's spontaneously fermented which lends an earthy funkiness to it and it's nearly still and supposed to be poured into a cup a few feet away to work some more air into it. Isastega maybe? It actually reminds me of a geuze blended with a funky, apply white wine.

            4 Replies
              1. re: lmg

                Second. Probably my favorite right now.

              2. re: mrgrotto

                The Basque cider is likely Sarasola Sagardoa. A B. United import.

                You might be thinking of the Dupont reserve cider that is aged in Calvados barrels. I still remember drinking a '98 vintage in 2005. Funky! Apples, socks and cheese rinds in a really soulful and delicious way. The newest vintage shouldn't be too hard to find. Ask your local that carries the regular Dupont.

                We recently did a tasting with Dupont Reserve and Farnum Hill farmhouse blend. Both were top notch ciders.

                J.K. Scrumpy's is good stuff though a little too sweet for my tastes. I agree that it makes a killer pan sauce.

                1. re: Tabrams

                  Nope, mostly:

                  The Basque cider is distributed through Ideal. Purveyors of all the excellent throwback spirits from Austria (Rothman and Winter, et al.) and couple few dozen great wines. I think I was actually close regarding the name. I will have to track down the one you mentioned, though. I'm intrigued.

                  Dupont does make a blend called Pommeau which is actually a blend of apple juice and Calvados. (My mistake. I thought it was a blend of cider and calvados.) Although a cider aged in Calvados barrels sounds equally delicious.

                1. My own. I know it sounds snarky, but I like mine very dry, which precludes cider jack and woodchuck. Unfortunatetly, no one else likes it so dry, so serving it to others is a hard sell. I also like my local cider mill's hard cider, especially the one they make with russet apples: Clyde's Lucky Lion in Mystic CT

                  1. The stuff I got in the UK was fantastic! But here in the US, I usually drink Hardcore

                    1. Wandering Aengus Heirloom Blend. Unfortunately, my local beverage shop in LA hasn't carried it for about six months now.

                      5 Replies
                      1. re: bulavinaka

                        Link

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                        Wandering Aengus Ciderworks
                        6130 Bethel Heights Rd NW, Salem, OR

                        1. re: BeanBoy

                          Thanks for linking them up! BTW, my local go-to place (Beverage Warehouse) is carrying the Wandering Aengus Heirloom blend again. I didn't get a chance to ask the guys there if it's a seasonal thing, but that's my assumption. I remember it being available at this store around late spring-early summer. Hope you get a chance to try any of their products.

                          1. re: bulavinaka

                            They have some amazing stuff, I can only seem to get it at Whole Foods here in the Bay Area. Any place that uses apples and no carbonation or sweeteners for their cider is bound to be good!!

                            Have you ever had Farnum Hill?? It looks like Farnum Hill is starting to get some distribution out West. I'd be psyched if I could get my hands on a bottle of that stuff without having to fly back East for a change. . .

                            1. re: BeanBoy

                              No I haven't but I will keep my eyes open for it - thanks for the rec...

                        2. re: bulavinaka

                          Silver Lake wine in, you know.... Has it in stock. I just but a bottle.

                        3. If any of you Northeasterners haven't tried Farnum Hill Cider yet, you're missing out.

                          They grow cider apples, and make the bet dry apple cider I have ever had.

                          I am not a huge fan of Woodchuck or Fox, they taste too much like alcoholic Juicy-Juice. :( Farnum Hill is hard to find, but I go out of my way to find it whenever I am back east. Hope a few bottles start finding their way out to California soon...

                          http://www.farnumhillciders.com/

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                          Farnum Hill Ciders
                          98 Poverty Ln, Lebanon, NH

                          1. Ace Cider is my favorite... The Joker is one of their best and has 8% alcohol content. The Apple Honey is nice as well. They even have a pub called Ace In The Hole located in Sebastopol. I always stop there on my way to the Russian River.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: margareteragram

                              Not a huge fan of Ace. It is way too sweet. If you ever get a chance to try some Normandy cider, cider from smaller producers in England or Farnum Hill, GET SOME!!

                            2. I like Blackthorn the best. I don't like Magners, and find that Strongbow isn't 'apple-y' enough. Gaymers is just terrible [but i don't think it's a true cider].

                              1. Doc's Draft Hard Apple Cider, from the Warwick Valley Winery in Warwick, NY**
                                http://www.wvwinery.com/cider_02.html

                                Magner's - 'cause I can't always gets Doc's

                                ** they make an interesting framboise, too...

                                1 Reply
                                1. Woodchuck Granny Smith, which is less sweet than their other varieties.

                                  I'm 99% sure that's what Trader Joe's Newton's Folly cider is same stuff with a different label. The town of origin matches and the taste, as much as I can remember from last having Woodchuck about five years previous, also matches.

                                  1. Can't forget about Samuel Smith Cider!

                                    1. Just tried Original Sin Cider. Thought it was good. Nice, clean and dry without the sweetness. More Champagne in style.

                                      3 Replies
                                      1. re: triggs73

                                        Yeah me too with Original Sin and it was kind of therapeutic after having the flu. Since then I've tried Woodpecker which could be a bit stronger and Kopparberg Pear Cider which is too sweet for me but very refined. This has all brought back fond memories of drinking cider down around Glastonbury in Southwest England... oh youth is wasted on the young!

                                        I guess I'm looking for the driest, cleanest bottled cider that carries a kick... any suggestions?

                                        1. re: Flaco

                                          Driest one in my experience was a British import. Narrow black bottle with a red "K": produced by Gaymer Cider. Alcohol content: 6.9%.

                                          Had it at Virgil's Real BBQ in NYC some years back; I don't think they have it anymore, though.

                                        1. B.F. Clyde's, Hogan's, Bishops, Farnum Hill, and Flag Hill are all great. If you live near where apples are grown, check for local cider mills. I've never had commercially distributed cider that even came close to the stuff at small, locally distributed cider mills.

                                          3 Replies
                                          1. re: danieljdwyer

                                            Am I correct to assume that the stronger ciders are only available at wine & liquor stores due to licensing laws? I saw that some of your above choices are available at wine merchants here in NYC.

                                            I had some Doc's and Ace (both very good) but am looking for the 8 percent stuff. Unlike many beers, I got a hunch that cider benefits from some extra kick. True?

                                            1. re: Flaco

                                              I have no idea where cider fits in to New York's liquor laws. In Connecticut, liquor stores sell all categories of booze.

                                              1. re: Flaco

                                                There is a ceiling on alcohol in ciders, after which it is taxed as wine at a higher rate instead of at the beer rate. I expect that affects the selection of higher-alcohol ciders.

                                            2. Enjoying a Trabanco right now here in BCN. Dry, tart... little if any carbonation. Delicious. Viva sidra!

                                              1. My recs are the Aspall ciders from Jolly Olde.

                                                1. That's a tough question because there are several styles of hard cider, and they are very different. You have the French country ciders, English, traditional American, and new American (which are sweet.) Personally I like the first vintage of Winterport Winery Back Porch hard cider. But I'm biased, I helped create it when I was a partner at the winery and brewery. It's a dry, traditional style American cider.