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Simply Cider

Simply Cider Hard ciders, the perfect Fall choice STORY and photo by Jeff Stites Hard cider is probably as old as beer and wine. It’s simply fermented apples, which isn’t hard to achieve even by accident. Apples are much less finicky than grapes and fermenting them doesn’t require to boiling of wort that beer needs. Basically, anyone with apples can make hard cider.

The Motherland of hard ciders is England, where cider-specific orchards are recorded as far back as the Norman invasion in 1066. Cider is traditionally made from apples that wouldn’t be good to eat with your lunch or bake into a pie. Cider apples are bitter, sour and contain much higher levels of tannins than the apples we eat. That’s not to say you can’t make hard cider from the apples at Lowes (see below), but it won’t give you the acidic, tart flavors ciders are known for. I love hard ciders as a break from beer and wine, as a refresher on a nice autumn day, or as a mixer half-and-half with a lager. They are similar in style and look to beer, but are really a form of wine (as they are fermented fruit juice). Hard cider really holds a place of its own in the adult beverage world, and I think it is worth a closer look. Rhize Up! Ginger Cider 6% ABV The Label Says: Take to the streets with the bull! This ginger rhizome infused hard cider will rhize up against the ordinary. My Take: It certainly is different. The ginger is very forward making this cider a bit too spicy to be truly refreshing. The liquid is a nice, sort of bright yellow and the carbonation is just right. The cider is dry to the

point of almost tart, though I’m having a hard time sorting out if that is attributable to the ginger or the cider. I feel like without the ginger, this would be delicious and not just interesting. And don’t get too confused by the “rhizome” thing, it’s just the name for the ginger root you’re used to seeing in the grocery store produce section. Ginger is purported to have health benefits, to those who put stock in such things, supposedly helping with gastro-intestinal problems and fighting inflammation. If you needed a medical excuse to have a nice cider drink, this might be for you. Bold Rock Hard Cider, Granny Smith Cider 4.7% ABV The Label Says: Nothing much, really. My Take: This is like training wheels hard cider. It’s heavily carbonated and fairly sweet with no real cider-y punch to it at all. It’s more like hard apple juice now that I think about it. The cider is so pale as to be almost clear, so it looks as non-descript as it tastes. As the name suggests, this is made from granny smith apples, not apples bred specifically for cider, so that’s probably why it tastes so…..blah. I hate to be unpatriotic, but this stuff is way too Americanized. But if you’re new to hard ciders and want a gateway beverage, this might be the ticket. But I have to warn you, this is the Natural Light of hard ciders. Angry Orchard Rosé Hard Cider 5.5% ABV The Label Says: Made with rare French red flesh apples My Take: Those apples can’t be too awfully rare, everyone and their brother has a rosé cider out now. I have to admit, when I saw these come out I assumed it was gimmick to get the rosé wine crowd (young women, demographically, though it made my wife make a face) to try hard ciders. It may be just that, if not a gimmick then at least a marketing ploy, but the cider isn’t bad at all. The smell when you open the bottle is very rosé wine-like, and the taste is a bit of a twist on traditional ciders without going so far off the reservation as to not give you what you want when you reach for a cider. This cider is dry but still somehow very fruity. It’s not quite as dry as I prefer, but it’s a middle of the road that will make lots of people happy, I think. I would pair this with cheese as part of a nice snack. If you are a fan of rosé wine, I think you’ll really like this. Stella Artois Cidre 4.5% ABV The Label Says: European Style Cider My Take: Look, I’m all for American and all but when it comes to ciders the Europeans just really know how to do it right. Maybe it’s the orchards of apples grown just for the purpose of cider-making. Maybe it’s the tradition of cider drinking that goes back hundreds and hundreds of years. I don’t know what exactly they do differently, but Stella Cidre is spectacular. Stella Cidre is a nice dark yellow with just the right amount of tiny bubble carbonation. Its perfectly balanced between fruity and tart and it just feels a bit thicker on the tongue than any of the other ciders I’ve sampled tonight. This one feels, and tastes, much more apple cider-like than apple juice-like, and that is precisely what I’m looking for in a hard cider.

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