Know your hard cider

The number of licensed cidermakers operating in the US has doubled since 2013, but the supply of American apples suitable for classic cidermaking remains lean. How can you size up a hard cider before the first sip?

Ask about the name.

By law, only beverages that have been fermented from 100% apple juice may carry the straightforward label of cider or hard cider. Beverages that have been flavored with additives will bear a longer name that is descriptive or fanciful, like blueberry cider or hopricot.

Absolutely true! And amended.

Ask about the orchard.

If the cidermaker names one or more orchard on the label then, by law, at least 95% of the fruit in the bottle must come from those orchards. Knowing the orchard is one of the best ways to know if you’re drinking a true American heritage cider.

Orchardist Steve Wood of Poverty Lane Orchards

Ask about the apples.

The right kind of apple creates remarkable cider the same way the right kind of grape creates remarkable wine. Classic cider apples—bittersharps, bittersweets and some crabs—contribute complexity and structure to cider and enhance the color, aroma, flavor and mouthfeel of the beverage in your glass.

Ask about the bubbles.

Is the cider carbonated? This legal label must be used when the bubbles are produced through the forced injection of carbon dioxide. Is the cider described as sparkling? Also a legal label and highly prized, the bubbles in sparkling ciders are often created using the same secondary fermentation method used to create champagne. This méthode champenoise produces a more delicate bubble that is lively in the glass.

Eden’s endless Sparkling Dry Cider

Cidrbox.com connects people seeking orchard-driven cider with the artisans who make it. Each month we visit a single, distinctive American heritage orchard — where small producers grow, harvest, press, ferment and refine their cider — and we ship their cider to our subscribers. We also sit down for a tasting with the maker, and we share that tasting with you at cidersessions.com.

p.s. When we say cider, we mean hard cider: Artful fermentations of heirloom apples by master cidermakers. You must be at least 21 to drink what we deliver, and you will be asked for your ID and signature at the door.

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