3 Dry Ciders That Won’t Make You Feel Awful
Many ciders suck. These ones don’t.
There are some weeks when there simply isn’t any un-reviewed beers on deck. So…let’s talk ciders for a moment…and let’s be blunt. There is a lot of terrible ciders out there. Many of them are too sweet to stomach, and most of them give me a headache and a hangover before the buzz even sets in.
We don’t often discuss cider on this blog. After all, it is a beer blog. However, it does deserve mention from time to time as a safe gluten free alternative to beer. But we’re not just going to talk about them…
I’m going to cut straight through the chase and just share with you the best tasting ciders I’ve found here on the west coast that won’t make you feel like death. Perhaps they are also distributed in your region. It’s worth checking out.
1. Red Tank Cider
My Favorite: Rough Neck Cider
Let’s start with my most local favorite, Red Tank Cider whose based in Oregon. It was Red Tank that made me realize that I actually do like some ciders. They also educated me on why it is that so many ciders make me feel like I just downed a full bottle of champagne without the buzz. (Headache, stomach pains, deep desire to go to bed in the middle of the day)
My favorite of their ciders is Rough Neck Cider. This is their driest offering, which is why it has my heart. I can drink several of them, and get a bubbly happy buzz on. In fact, their other slightly-sweeter year-round offering is actually called Happy Cider.
It turns out…it’s all about the sugars. Here’s Drew Wilson, co-founder of Red Tank Cider Co. to explain further:
“Most people experiences with cider these days are with one of the mass produced offerings made by large beverage conglomerates like Angry Orchard. Those ciders are generally made from apple juice concentrate. When you make cider form concentrate, you have to build it back up.” (He’s referring to the body and the flavor of the cider.)
“To do that, they add chemical apple flavoring. You will see it on ingredient lists, listed as “natural flavors”. They also add a lot of sugar. Whether it be cane sugar, dextrose, sucrose…any one of the mass produced sugars. Some will even add high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener. They also add fungicides (such as sulfates) to avoid refermentation of their product. This kills the yeast and makes it more shelf stable.”
All these processed sugars added to the cider make it much more difficult for the body to process. This is where the cider-hangover comes in—for some of us, almost instantly. If you’ve experienced this before, know that it is not you…it’s the cider. It’s not that your body can’t handle all ciders, it’s that it can’t handle crappy poor-quality ciders that are difficult to digest.
Cider makers DO have a choice. Here’s Drew with Red Tank Cider again:
“At Red Tank Cider, we only use the natural sugars of the apple and then add yeast to speed up the fermentation process. But that’s it. There are no added sugars, because the yeast ferments the apple perfectly. We don’t need to cover it up with sugar. We also don’t use any fungicides or chemicals whatsoever. We don’t need them. And you don’t want them. We mechanically filter our product. As long as our cider is kept cold, it doesn’t have an issue with re-fermentation.”
“It’s a lot more work, but we prefer to have a product that we are proud of and can stand by. It’s a harder process, but it’s superior. Without adding extra chemicals and sugars, your body can process it more easily, avoiding the cider-hangover. So everybody that’s heard that a glass of wine a day is healthy…well, we just use apples instead of grapes.”
– Drew Wilson
Red Tank Cider Co-Founder
Check out the Red Tank Cider website for more information about their year-round and seasonal offerings.
2. Rivercider by Riverside Farms
My Favorite: Crazy Crow Blackberry Infused Dry Cider
Rivercider currently produces three options for dry cider lovers. There’s the Screech Owl Barrel Aged Cider, the Crazy Crow Blackberry Infused Cider, and the Stellar Jay Plum Infused Cider. Every one of them is a dry cider, and the entire production process from growing the apples, to bottling the cider happens on their farm in Hood River. (Whaaaat?! That’s rare these days.) My current favorite is their Crazy Crow.
“There’s no hiding it — our ciders aren’t sweet and they aren’t your everyday supermarket cider; they are extraordinary, dry, old world ciders with a new world twist! Each flavor has been influenced by our local flora and fauna, and is an ode to the beauty of the nature that thrives on our farm.”
Their ciders are all made in small batches. They use heirloom, Newtown apples grown on our their very own farm. Rivercider ferments their product with a two-step process. The first step utilizes European fermentation tanks for a period of 30 to 40 days. The second round of fermentation requires white oak barrels, and then they roll it into an aging process that takes 6+ months in oak. The ciders get a splash of local honey for bottle conditioning.
You can find out more about Rivercider by Riverside Farms at their website.
3. Ace Cider
My Favorite: Joker Cider
“No sugar is added to our beverages, the only sugar occurs naturally from fresh fruit, making our ciders crisp in taste and flavor. Our award winning ACE ciders are pure, clean and refreshing because we use only the best eating apples for our juice and the best ingredients we can buy. We use champagne yeast in all of our cider and ferment them 10 -14 days. We then cold – filter 4 times and add the perfect amount of spritz to quench your thirst.”
Ace Cider – Full List of Craft Ciders
- ACE Apple
- ACE Apple Honey
- ACE Berry
- ACE BlackJack 21
- ACE Joker
- ACE Perry
- ACE Pineapple
- ACE Pumpkin
- ACE SPACE
Craft Ciders Across The USA
What are your experiences with ciders in your area? Do you have access to some high-quality craft ciders like we do on the west coast? As you may have noticed, all three of my suggestions are in the Pacific Northwest. This wasn’t intentional. I think it’s just about what I have access to in this region. Which is why I’m so curious to hear from YOU. Do you struggle with added-sugar ciders the way I do? If so, what are your go-tos?
Hope this helps! And I hope to be back next week with a brand spankin’ new beer review.