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Hard Cider preferences?

I'm a fan of dry English ciders like Blackthorn, Strongbow and J.K. Scrumpy, when I can find them. I think ACE and Wyder's are just too sweet. I know the selection has been getting wider lately and the last thread I could find on hard cider brands was from 2001.

Anyone have a favorite press? (It would be a bonus if it was produced in CA, but I'm interested in anything you've enjoyed.)

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  1. I like Blackthorn and Strongbow, but find the Scrumpy way too sweet. Woodchuck from Vermont is good and crisp - granny smith being the tartest formulation, and Spire Mountain from Washington is also very nice.

    1. Another Woodchuck fan here. I would also point out that hard cider is possibly the world's most perfect beverage pairing with spicy curries like vindaloo - the low alcohol content (compared to wine) and slight sweetness (compared to beer) make it nicely complementary to chili heat.

      1. I love cider but am very picky. I like Scrumpy Jack but not Strongbow. I am a diehard Woodchuck fan...if you don't like supersweet I think the Dark and Dry is the best variety. I like the Amber as well but it is a little sweeter. They have been putting out seasonal brews lately. I want to try the most recent one.

        1. Love the ciders... Crispin (I believe with a C, not a K) makes a quite nice one as well.

          If I come upon a sweeter cider, I usually just make a snakebite out of it and the bitterness of the beer will largely offset that extra sweetness of the cider.

          1. Dunno if this thred will get moved off the wine board to the beer board or somewhere else, but...

            +1 for Crispin. I need to confess, though, that it is a local product for me (headquarters in Minneapolis). So that makes it a sentimental choice. They do have distribution outside of Minnesota, however.

            1. Hi, galeforcewind:

              I consider Blackthorn, Strongbow and Scrumpy sweet, not dry ciders.

              You might try Wild Angus from Oregon, Red Barn from Washington, or Okanogan Cider Co. from British Columbia. Otherwise, there are excellent and very inexpensive French ciders that one can find in co-op markets and at larger wine merchants.

              Hope This Helps,

              4 Replies
              1. re: kaleokahu

                Blackthorn, Strongbow and Scrumpy Jack are technically dry ciders even though they taste sweet (and on a side note, in the US "sweet" cider tends to mean unfermented).

                I like the real ciders (http://www.camra.org.uk/page.aspx?o=1...) you can get in the UK, but when I'm in the US, I often go for Original Sin.

                FYI, Strongbow and Scrumpy Jack are owned by the same company (H.P. Bulmer, which is owned by Heineken).

                1. re: sfumato

                  Hi, sfumato:

                  "[T]echnically dry..." Do you happen to know the residual sugar numbers for these "dry" ciders?

                  My own cider usually starts with juice at about 12 Brix, and I let it go bone dry before the charge. Even with near-Champagne charges (15g/L), most yeasts will eat up everything you put in.

                  The Bulmer ciders are all carbonated after the fact in pressure vessels. So they can make it as "dry" as they like.


                  1. re: kaleokahu

                    I should have said "labeled and sold as" rather than "technically." This is what I've found in the states and the UK (just came back from a 5 month stint living there). I'm not sure what the government/official food policies are behind those decisions.

                    I've never seen information published by Bulmers on initial Brix- not sure if a company that big is giving out that info. But I haven't looked too hard for it, either. Bulmer's has said they use very sweet dessert apples like Red Katy along with bittersweet ones, and on top of that, I do believe that chaptalization is allowed in the UK for ciders. But even if all those sugars are eaten up by the yeasts, post-fermentation, pre-bottling residual sugar levels are not necessarily the best guide, I'd suspect, because some of these brands (most notably Strongbow) add natural and artificial sweeteners right before bottling.

                    ETA: Not that it's the most reliable source, but the wikipedia entry for Scrumpy Jack starts off with "Scrumpy Jack is a brand of dry cider..." and Strongbow is labeled and marketed in the US as "England's Dry Cider"

                    I didn't say it made sense! ;)

                    1. re: sfumato

                      Hi, sfumato:

                      Thanks for the info. I was most interested in what the *residual* sugars were for the Bulmer's trio, because there is obviously some sugar there. In industrial cider, they're either adding at bottling and pasteurizing, or hitting it with sorbate. Highly unlikely that they use a yeast that dies out at 5% ABV.

                      I think the American cider dichotomy is Sweet v. Hard.


                      The classic English composition includes sweet, bittersweet, bittersharp and some crabs

              2. Another vote for Crispin - it's very good
                They also make a pear version which is fabulous.

                1. We like Aspall Dry, which is a dry English cider. Can't always find it, though...also like some of the small artisan ciders from Vermont and New Hampshire, but they have only limited distribution.

                  1. Count me a Strongbow fan too. Other than cooking with them, I do not consume many ciders, but with fish-n-chips, whether in the US, or Soho, that is my go-to cider. I pass on wines, and most brews for a Strongbow.



                    1. Another vote for Woodchuck. Tried a lot of others, but I keep coming back to Woodchuck.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: al b. darned

                        Just tried a few newer flavors of Woodchuck. While Dark and Dry is still my favorite flavor the Crisp and the 802, in addition to the original Amber are nice. I really dislike the Granny Smith, Pear and Raspberry types.

                      2. Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouché Brut de Normandie

                        1. Here in New England, Samuel Smith's is good, as is Harpoon (I like ciders that are very dry, and generally dislike Woodchuck.) I used to like Strongbow when I could get it, but can't find it here.

                          I was very glad to find this thread, though, to ask if anyone had tried the Newton's Folly cider from Trader Joe's. Anyone know what this is, or is like?