Cider: An apple a day keeps the doctor away!
I used to be a bit of a beer connoisseur and while I liked beer, it didn't like me. So I switched to hard cider and have sampled over 250 ciders to date, including most local ciders (of which there are many tasty choices). I like supporting orchardists and encouraging more diversity in apple varieties.
The cider industry is growing faster than the craft beer industry ever grew! What kind of cider do you like: dry, medium, or sweet? Apple-y, fruity, herby, or spiced? Need help choosing for yourself or maybe your bar/restaurant? See below and/or just ask!
Here are a few cider resources:
Two similar cider websites with maps of cideries and tasting rooms, events, and more:
Attend the Chicago Cider Summit (in February) or one of the other three around the country. 40 cideries, 130 ciders, and 6 meaderies!
Cider Craft magazine, news from the world of cider
Malus, a cider zine with a philosophical bent
The USDA Pomological Watercolor Collection documents fruit and nut varieties around the turn of the 20th century.
Special Ciders (imho)
Many people have asked me to list my favorite ciders -- ciders that I think are really special -- so I'm finally doing so! When I started drinking cider, I tended towards traditional "apple-y" dry ciders, since I thought they were somehow better... sophisticated, more pure. But there are so many of these ciders that after a while I burned out on them. I've never liked super-sweet ciders, so I've landed in the sometimes dry (but interesting) to semi-sweet range. I especially like complex ciders. Here's a list of what I think are special ciders, highlighting those available in the upper-midwest. Note that I have not tried any Brix Cider yet, but hope to recitify that as soon as Omicron passes.
Semi-dry (a few are dry) to semi-sweet
Herb: Hidden Cave Cidery (WI) Lemongrass Lavendar, Duluth Cider (MN) South Island Tea (raspberries, black tea, hopped), Seattle Cider (WA) Basil Mint, Cider House of Wisconsin Zoso Mojo (like a Mojito, but better! Sadly, they closed their doors in 2020 because covid; this was one of my all-time favorite ciders. Meowee Wowee [ginger/lemon] was also delish).
Wood aged: Stem Ciders (CO) Banjo.
Hot: Blake’s Hard Cider (MI) El Chavo.
ACE Cider (CA) Blood Orange (I dilute it with a dry cider or fizzy water to cut the sweetness).
If this was helpful, please drop me a line!