"The Best Hard Cider Brands: Our Taste Test Results"


#1

I came across this while Googling taste of hard cider, do all your experts agree with the taste test result? This was published 2012.

By the way, I gave some of my hard cider to the owner of the apple tree. She likes it; her daughter also likes it and thinks it tastes like champagne.
I should not have complained (in my previous post ) the first cider I tried tasted like flat champagne.:grinning:


#2

I have not drank any good ciders this fall but this past weekend drank some Shock Top Honeycrisp Apple Wheat beer that I thoroughly enjoyed. The honeycrisp flavor definitely came out.


#3

I’ve had some cider named Sonoma that is very good to my taste.


#4

My cider partner and good friend Ben came to stay over with us last Saturday with his wife, and brought a bottle of Shacksbury still, dry, wild yeast fermented Basque cider for us to sample, reviewed here:
http://www.saveur.com/article/wine-and-drink/basque-ciders-to-drink-right-now .

I really only like fully dry cider, so I enjoyed this stuff much better than some sweetened and spiced offerings I’ve recently had from Bantam (which is just down the street from my house in Somerville). It had a great, bright apple flavor, and was quite tart. Very yeasty and slightly funky; I’m usually not a great fan of the funk in cider but in this case it was at a low enough level that it added to the overall experience for me. I drink my own cider cold and pretty full of bubbles, but I could appreciate this cider at room temp and fairly still. I could not taste any amount of tannin, which I think of as one of the crucial pillars of cider flavor. But it did hold together for me even without a defined tannin element. Anyway, if you haven’t tried a cider in this class it is a worthwhile taste to seek out.

With four of us, the 750ml bottle didn’t last long, so we followed up with a glass of our own 2014 homebrew vintage. 2014 was excellent for us, and comparing side to side with something considered good enough to send across the ocean made me feel this more strongly. I often feel like I wish we could get our cider a little more tart, and drinking the Basque cider gave me an example of something with far greater endowment in this element. Probably the best way for us to get more tart is to prefer bittersharps over bittersweets, and put in more wild apples when we can get them.

I also ordered a few bottles of the unadulterated dry selections from Eve’s, taking advantage of a free shipping coupon I got from Cummins nursery, who apparently is in the same area and supplied the cider apple trees for Eve’s a number of years ago. Looking forward to tasting them! They do methode champenoise, which as a hobby scale brewer seems to me like a tremendous pain in the ass, but it must have some compelling benefits to justify the trouble…


#5

Somerville with all of its bars must have some good cider offerings from other areas. My first attemp at hard cider came out pretty good and very drinkable. I look forward to making more and better as my cider trees come into production.


#6

I’ve got a looong list of favorites, but I’ll try to narrow it down.

Anything from Starcut Ciders is good.
Cider Dayze, Flannelmouth- Blake’s
Dancing Elephants- not sure
Le Pere Jules (both perry and cider)
Jk Scrumpy is good for a farmhouse type


#7

Our local store has been selling a good collection of Basque ciders. I can’t get enough of them, the flavor grows on you. Unfortunately the working-class Spanish version they used to import and sell for $6 (and costs $2 in Spain) was recently replaced by the same stuff in the same bottle but with a fancy label and a $12 price.

If you want to try to make a Spanish style cider here, the apple Fuero Rous is a Basque bittersharp and it had great flavor to it. Unfortunately it rotted badly in my heat (as did all the other Euro cider apples, assuming fireblight had not already killed them).


#8

I didn’t even know what really good hard cider could taste like until I tried Eve’s Cidery in upstate NY.


#9

Would I sound really ignorant if I say I don’t know what ‘taste funky’ is like?:stuck_out_tongue:


#10

Ha! I recognize one name here: JK Scrumpy. I bought one a couple of weeks ago, haven’t open it yet.

By the way, what is ‘farmhouse’ type? How is it different?


#11

Scott, both you and Hollygate mentioned basque cider, I definitely will look for them.


#12

Thank you everyone for your recommendations! From now on, I will be looking for ciders whenever and wherever :smiley:


#13

Sara, no reason you should know what Funky tastes like unless you’ve tasted it!

I’m not great at the art of cider tasting: identifying flavor components and giving them names. To me the Funk tastes sort of like a stinky cheese or a dirty sock, though this is probably a slew of different flavors a more skilled taster than myself could pick apart. A little bit creates a welcome sublevel of complexity, but when it gets stronger I don’t find it appealing. I’m not totally clear where the funk flavor comes in, but it seems to me to be much more prevalent in ciders which have been natural yeast fermented (i.e. not cleared of existing microbes then pitched with selected strain brewing yeast). I think some professionals call this flavor “Barnyard” which is a romantic way of saying “poo”.

At least around here liquor stores have started bringing in some imported and craft ciders (in addition to the mass market stuff like woodchuck, etc), so it’s not as hard to find as it used to be. Not cheap either though. Good stuff runs around $20/bottle.


#14

HollyGates, thank you for the detailed explanation! This is a whole new world to me, I didn’t even know there is such thing called hard cider until I read it here.:smile:

By the way, do you know wether Apple juice can be frozen and make cider later? Will the flavor change? There are lots of Apple left on the tree, I am wondering whether I should get them before a deep freeze does.


#15

I don’t actually know, but I’ve thought of freezing whole apples then taking them out later to make cider with. This could allow you to match up varieties that are not ready at the same time in the season, only dragging all your cider equipment out once.

Never actually done it though. On the one hand, the freezing would rupture cell walls and make the juice come out a lot easier; I bet you wouldn’t even have to shred the apples before pressing them. On the other hand, that same effect would lead to starting fermentation as soon as it thawed even if it hadn’t been pressed yet. If you actually froze them in your freezer, space could be an issue fairly quickly. But if you left them on the tree through cold weather they might start to when sun shined on them or a warmer day came around. Might be an interesting effect to experiment with. I think I’ve heard of leaving apples on the tree and letting water evaporate from them while frozen in order to concentrate sugar and get a higher alcohol % like for apple wine. Not sure what other effects would come up or how the flavor would change.

Another approach would be to juice the apples and freeze the juice, then thaw and ferment later. Or juice and ferment, then let the hard cider sit around until you are ready to use it or blend it with cider from other varieties. This is what commercial cider makers do, like Farnum Hill. One advantage of storing hard cider is it can last a long time at room temp.


#16

I was thinking of freezing the Apple juice. With my table top juicer, I need 12 lb to get a gallon of juice. I don’t have big enough freezer to freeze all the apples😄

But the idea of letting Apple on the tree to concentrate sugar is really interesting. I am sure there will be plenty of Apple left on the tree, I can go any time pick some frozen Apple and try to make cider during winter time! I will let you know how it turn out.

Thank you very much for all your help!


#17

I’ve heard of that too, but it must be specific types of apples and/or special weather conditions. I have apples that will hang through winter, but they are brown sacks of yucky mush after a couple daily freeze-thaw cycles in late autumn. I think you might have to make sure the apples don’t actually freeze even though the temps are below the freezing point of water. It would be risky where I’m at. The temperature ranges fluctuate too much from day to day and week to week.

I have had apples in cellar storage dehydrate to the point of wrinkly skin without rotting. I’ve pressed them at weekly stages through the process. The juice evolves into a thicker oily substance. It gets to the point that I can’t press them because the syrup is too thick to expel. The apples don’t grind well either. It has a greasy texture like high fat ground beef.


#18

Has anyone had commercial applejack or made their own? It’s made by freezing hard cider to remove water. I’ve never had any. My high school biology teacher talked about making it.


#19

I’ve done some freeze concentration of cider, but for making aftershave not for drinking. Here is a writeup I did the first time:

I just made another batch over the summer since I ran out, and I ditched putting in the aloe, so it’s just straight cider. I don’t care for liquor or spirits, but this stuff is not bad. Probably fairly low proof, but enough to make it shelf stable.

I’ve certainly read that actually drinking freeze concentrated spirits is hard on the drinker. With distilling you throw out the tops and tails, which eliminates a lot of non-ethanol compounds. With freeze concentrating that stuff is still all in there, but stronger.

I saved the numerous rounds of icy flakes I scooped out of the container of cider I was working on, letting them thaw in the fridge and drinking them later on. They still tasted plenty cidery, but were lower on alcohol content.


#20

Good point. I’m not sure how far it is taken with traditional homemade applejack. It seems the methanol isn’t high enough to cause immediate danger, but it isn’t something you would want to drink regularly. I wouldn’t doubt that modern commercial applejack is distilled to ensure safety.