Top Five Hard Ciders You Should Drink

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We’re celebrating Autostraddle’s Fifth Birthday all month long by publishing a bunch of Top Fives. This is one of them!


I get a lot of shit for not liking beer, which doesn’t make sense to me because cider exists in the world and we should all drink that instead. If you drink cider and expect it to be like beer, YOU ARE MISSING THE POINT. Disagree all you want but I get to have my opinion and much like all of my opinions, I consider it to be superior to everyone else’s. I’m an everyone-elseist. That’s like a racist but towards everyone but myself. I just made it up and it’s not true but I enjoyed saying it anyway.

Now this list could be a bunch of obscure ciders that are hard to find or expensive or weird flavors like molasses but I don’t drink those. I mostly drink the ciders they sell at Ralph’s and BevMo so if you’re expecting me to talk really pretentiously about cider, you’re in the wrong place. Unless that’s what the comments section turns into, then I guess you’re in the right place.

stellacidre

5. Stella Cidre

It’s spelled cidre so you know it’s classy as fuck like when people spell it theatre. I never would have tried it if it weren’t for Carmen because it’s more expensive than most ciders. It’s good though. It’s probably the driest cider I like but I don’t fully understand the term dry so I could be wrong. I’m extremely qualified to write this list!


 

 

hornsbys

4. Hornsby’s Crisp

Hornsyby’s is simple and straightforward. To me, it’s a classic and probably how I would introduce any skeptic to the joy that is cider. Hornsby’s advertising is always talking about how it’s for “young adults” which is funny because people always call me a baby for drinking cider anyway, I don’t think they need to young it up.


 

strongbow

3. Strongbow

Strongbow reminds me of my college rugby team because they were obsessed with it. I didn’t drink until after college so I missed out on enjoying it with them but they were right–it’s stupid delicious. I don’t know whether it’s being associated with a bunch of queer women that like to throw each other around or the design of the cans and bottles but drinking Strongbow always makes you look like a badass.


 

grannysmith

2. Woodchuck Granny Smith

It’s like drinking a Granny Smith apple. Who doesn’t want that? The perfect balance of bite and sweetness. I feel like this could be the exact copy on their website but I’m not going to check because then I’ll feel corny if I’m right.


 

This is the best quality picture available on the internet. It's so small to signify your chances of ever finding this cider.

This is the best quality picture available on the internet. It’s so small to signify your chances of ever finding this cider.

1. Wyder’s Peach Cider

I BET YOU DIDN’T EVEN KNOW WYDER’S MADE PEACH CIDER. That’s because the shit is nowhere to be found. They don’t even list it on their website. I’ve had it once and it was probably top five moments of my life if I’d only been alive that one week it happened. I see Pear Wyder’s everywhere but for whatever reason this janky liquor store in the same lot as some BYOB restaurant I went to was selling peach as singles. I don’t even think that’s legal. If you come across Peach Wyder’s in your life, buy all of them and bring them to Camp and we’ll get married on the mountain. Maybe that liquor store was making and packing their own peach cider. Maybe it was all just a fever dream. There’s no real way to know. All I know it it’s the best cider in the world.

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Brittani Nichols is a Los Angeles based comedy person. When she's not tweeting about white people or watching television, she's probably eating pizza. Actually, she's probably doing all three of those things concurrently and when she's not doing THAT, she's sleeping. Brittani also went to Yale and feels weird about mentioning it but wants you to know.

Brittani has written 296 articles for us.

107 Comments

  1. Thumb up 5

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    I FUCKING LOVE THIS POST! Strongbow and Woodchuck are my go-to ciders when I’m at a new bar and the bartender is just staring at me like “wtf do you want to drink, i’m gonna judge your drink order anyways” and I want to try new things but I hate those 10 seconds they stare at me so I just order a cider or a dos xx’s.

    Anyways, ciders all the way.

  2. Thumb up 2

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    I also don’t like beer, and can’t have gluten anyway (which is why cider is so awesome!).

    My favorites are Michelob Ultra Light Cider and Crispin (Crispin has quite a few flavors, but I can usually only find one or two around me).

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      Then paint me pretentious, Woodchuck is all delicious!!! Something I loved that is a bit hard to get your hands on, is their seasonal Private Reserve: Pumpkin. I can’t even exactly put it into words, but it really is like drinking a pumpkin and it’s fucking delicious! It’s got a strong, smooth squash taste with just a hit of cinnamon/nutmeg in the background. I find that other people who try and produce a similar product tend to go HEAVY on the spices which end up just coating your mouth and overpowering everything else.

      Also, if you can find their Cellar Series: Chocolate, I’d recommend that as well! It’s infused with chrushed cacao nibs and has a really smooth and rich chocolate flavor to it without being bitter at all!

  3. Thumb up 8

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    This is great! Cider is great! Let’s all drink more cider!

    But where’s the craft cider love? As an established beer geek & budding cider geek, I’m gonna submit to you my own personal top five–

    1. Wandering Aengus Bloom. Fruity and just shy of sweet; each apple is hand-picked from one of two Oregon orchards and irt

    2. Vander Mill Totally Roasted. Cider made from Michigan apples and steeped with candied pecans, making this a tart cider with a uniquely creamy mouthfeel and notes of vanilla and cinnamon. Plus, it’s available in cans!

    3. Aspall Cuvee Chevallier. Fermented from a recipe dating to the 1700′s; dry, earthy, funky, and drinks like champagne.

    4. Sonoma Cider The Anvil. Organic apples with “bourbon flavor” added; normally I’m leery of anything with “flavor”, but this cider is so delicious–rounded and smoky–that I don’t even care.

    5. Anthem Cherry. Washington-grown apples and cherries combine to make a tart and slightly sweet cider with dark woodsy undertones.

  4. Thumb up 0

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    I just tried Downeast Cider for the first time last week and it was SO GOOD. Just the right amount of sweet with actual apple stuff floating around in it, so you know it’s legit.

    I do love Strongbow. And Harpoon’s Cider. Hell, I just love anything Harpoon makes.

  5. Thumb up 9

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    i hate beer. LOATHE BEER. refuse to drink beer. i just found out this past summer that i do not hate cider! thank you for all of these suggestions; you are doing important work.

  6. Thumb up 0

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    This Post! Yes!
    Hard cider is definitely my favourite drink. New Zealand has the most amazing cider. It is so cheap and you can get it in big bottles with a lot of brand/flavour varieties. It seems like cider is catching on in Canada now, and I regularly see more variety than the usual Strongbow and Growers (which is THE WORST EVER) in liquor stores, even in small towns.

  7. Thumb up 1

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    I’ll start off by saying I cannot handle cloyingly sweet ciders.

    The Stella “cidre” is your best bet for a dryer, easy to find go-to cider. This is my preferred cider at work happy hours.

    I just discovered the Crispin pear cider, which is oh so light and refreshing. I prefer it to Crispin original cider (blue can), which just tastes like apple juice to me…

    Getting a bit pretentious:
    If you happen to live in Austin, we’ve got a decent local cidery – Austin Eastciders (Eastsiders, get it?). They have a dry hopped cider that is quite dry. So dry you could drink more than a few!

    My favorite specialty cider I’ve tasted as of late is Crispin’s Bourbon Cask Aged Georgia. It’s quite sweet, but I allow it because anything aged in a bourbon cask is worth tasting, and there is also peach and mint! It’s akin to a cider cocktail in a bottle. It also costs something like $7 for a single, so save it and pop it open on a dreary day. I’ve been able to find this at Central Market.

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      Oops, forgot to mention Anthem- yum.

      For those of you who also drink cider because you’re gluten-free, try mead! It’s a legitimate drink these days, there are craft meaderies around the US. It’s not just something you might order at a renfest (sp?).

  8. Thumb up 1

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    Every time I try a new cider, I love the first 3-4 sips, and then that’s enough sugar for me. I love cider in theory, not so much in practice.

    Though I am looking forward to trying this new peach cider that just came out here. It says peach iced tea on the can; not sure how that works, but…

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      Cider is great but I agree with you many of them (especially the ones made in the US) tend to be way too sugary. I know it’s harder to find, but French ciders tend to have a lot less sugar in them and be dryer. The best I’ve ever had was one from Normandy called “duche de longueville.” They import it into the US but it’s not at BevMo. Very dry with wonderful aftertaste and not overly sweet. Heh, for people who are used to more potent English ciders, it might not provide enough of a kick for some people but I love it.

  9. Thumb up 0

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    I’m pretty particular about what I drink, I hate anything that’s tannic or bitter in the slightest (why I DESPISE beer), so my range is limited largely to hard ciders and occasional hard liquor.

    I’ve been meaning to track down Strongbow for a while now, I just haven’t gotten around to it and have largely stuck with the pride of Vermont, aka WOODCHUCK! Out of woodchuck’s varieties, I’ve found that my personal favorite the 802 (named for the Vermont’s area code) which is dry cider with some carmelized sugar added to it that I find adds some nice complexity to it!

    Another producer I’d like to throw out there is Citizen Cider which makes some delicious varieties and is based in Essex Vermont! (GREEN MOUNTAIN PRIDE!!!)

  10. Thumb up 0

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    ‘Hard’ cider? I don’t even know what that means. Personally drink quite a lot of Strongbow, don’t think it’s the best cider really but it’s cheap and so sweet and drinkable and acidic you can’t really taste the metal when you drink it from a can. Do find it a bit amusing that Strongbow might be regarded as some sort of sought after cider in the US… Possibly the best type of cider in my opinion is a still cloudy cider, most of those are English and Addlestones would be a prime example. They taste great both in their original form and also mulled. Also tried an amazing native Scottish cider recently called Thistly Cross. It tasted amazingly sweet and appley and was also approx 7% abv…dangerous stuff…

  11. Thumb up 0

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    you guys, I love cider so this post is all I could ever want and more, but let me just say that the best cider by far is Cider Boys magic apple. It’s an apple strawberry cider that’s the perfect combination between sweet and tart and, let’s not forget, alcohol. Cider Boys also makes cinnamon apple cider, peach cider, cranberry cider and raspberry cider. They know what the people want.

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    Oh man, I started drinking hard cider when I studied abroad in London in 2009 and it’s been my favorite since. In London every single pub has cider ON TAP and it’s so much better that way than in a bottle. My favorites are Magners Irish Cider, which lots of Irish pubs in the US have! Also Bulmers, which I’ve never seen in the US and miss it so much. Strongbow was the first one I tried and the one I get bottles of here. But again, I miss getting cider on tap, all foamy at the top, omg. I should move to the UK just for alcoholic reasons, I think that’s the moral of this comment.

  13. Thumb up 0

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    Love this! I haven’t had any of these except the Woodchuck Granny Smith (and it *is* just like drinking a Granny Smith apple), but I love hard cider. I might head to the liquor store and buy a bunch right now.

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    I can’t really drink cider without Guinness on top, but I definitely enjoy Foxbarrel blackberry, Original Sin Elderberry, and very most importantly Cigar City Brewing’s Cider… Unfortunately I’ve not seen CCB cider in bottles, and I don’t know where they distribute kegs outside of FL… but if you see it, drink it (and any beer that you can find of theirs as well.)

  15. Thumb up 0

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    This is an important list. Also, there is a VERY real possibility I may have found the Wyder’s Peach cider but it only comes in 1/2 kegs. WTF. Someone told me. I’ve tried the Stella Cidre lately, it’s good. I like it like I like regular Stella. There’s also Magner’s Apple cider which is really good.

    Banana bread beer anyone? =p

  16. Thumb up 0

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    Some other people have already called out the awesome craft ciders that exist, so I’m not going to repeat them. I just have a piece of advice for you, Brittani: if you like peach cider, you will almost certainly like Lindemans Peche Lambic. If you haven’t already tried it, I know, I know, it is technically a beer, but it tastes NOTHING like a beer. I know a lot of hardcore beer-haters who can’t stand beer and love the Lindemans fruit lambic, they basically taste like magic and happiness and the kind of thing you imagine characters in books drinking when they talk about drinking the best thing they ever tried. Really, I think you’d like it.
    http://www.merchantduvin.com/brew-lindemans-peche-lambic.php

  17. Thumb up 0

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    The first time I ever drank hard cider was during the “Fall Into Fall Picnic” that happened on Autostraddle Meet-Up Week a couple of years ago and it changed my life forever. Cider is my favorite thing to drink now and this post is just perfect! <3

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    Ace is my current favorite, by a lot, its drier and not as sweet as some of these (you have to look out though b/c some of them have a high alcohol content).

    Woodchuck reminds me of college, not in the best way.

  19. Thumb up 0

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    Any Aussie Straddlers want to recommend any good ciders – I’ve been in Melbourne about a month and my current strategy is to try all the things! So far I’ve really liked Pipsqueak and Dirty Granny, Monteiths on tap is okay and that’s about it.

    Also they have Rekorderlig and Kopparberg out here,both of which are good, but a bit too sweet to stick with all day.

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      There is a rooftop cider bar at Young & Jacksons (cnr Flinders and Swanston Sts), check it out! If you haven’t already) So much variety on tap and they also do cider right from the barrel. I know there is a cloudy apple cider on tap there which is very nice and not too sweet.

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      Napoleone Cider is just gorgeous, and comes from the Yarra Valley so nice and local for you.

      And if you can find it Adelaide Hills Cider is my favourite, and seems to be getting better distro outside of South Australia.

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      Folks…strongbow is awful, if it’s the same as the one we have…come to Britain and let us take you on a cider drinking experience of a lifetime… we have loads. LOADS. Ciders to look out for,some of which are mentioned in other comments: Magners, Gaymers- yes it’s real. Katie’s, Rekoderlig…it has an umlaut somewhere in the spelling, Kopparberg Pear cider or Berry cider. Oh how I long to lead a gaggle of queermos down the cider aisle of a Sainsbury’s.

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      YES! All of this…are you British? This was my first thought. Because Strongbow is so the bottom of the pole over here…with Stella Cidre just above. Did you try the Winter Rekoderlig with cinnamon?

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    I always hated beer and felt very resentful of this fact for years. I didn’t know hard cider was really even an option until I moved to Seattle and discovered the joys of a different type of cider every week at a nearby pub… God I love cider. Finally something to drink that doesn’t cost twice as much as everyone else’s drinks just to avoid drinking beer!

  21. Thumb up 1

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    Utah’s hottest cider is Stinger: a locally-brewed cider (hive winery, available at many state liquor stores). i’m pretty sure it’s the only commercially available utah cider and i couldn’t be happier!

    i also really enjoy wandering aengus (when i can find it): it’s a west-coast their cider is:
    1. made with heirloom varietals/witchcraft
    2. is out of salem, OR
    3. transcendent.

    every time i drink it, i cry b/c it’s so good.

    i love cider and yes, that’s all i have to say.

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      Utah’s hottest cider is STINGER. Brewed in the charred remnants of a downed wasp’s nest, this cider has everything: apples, bees, witchcraft, transcendence, and “heirloom varietals,” which is that thing where when you take a sip a ghost of the salem witch trials comes back and puts a surprise curse on your family for generations to come.

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    Maybe I’m biased because Boston and Vermont hold a special place in my heart, but harpoon cider is my favorite. It’s pure, fermented, New England apples (Harvard, MA!) No champagne yeast, no other sweeteners, and always the best ‘hair of the dog’ if y’all feel me….

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    Folks…strongbow is awful, if it’s the same as the one we have…come to Britain and let us take you on a cider drinking experience of a lifetime… we have loads. LOADS. Ciders to look out for,some of which are mentioned in other comments: Magners, Gaymers- yes it’s real. Katie’s, Rekoderlig…it has an umlaut somewhere in the spelling, Kopparberg Pear cider or Berry cider. Oh how I long to lead a gaggle of queermos down the cider aisle of a Sainsbury’s.

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    Strongbow is awful I’m afraid. Once remember drinking a large quantity of it at Uni in London, then waking up in Oxford feeling very very sick with no recollection of how I got there. Bad times.

    Anyway as someone who used to work in and is still a regular in a Pub that won East of England Cider Pub of the year, I feel I should set the record straight. There is (like with English Ale) a big difference between mass produced cider and ‘real’ cider and the latter is far superior. Real cider is normally stronger, never sparkling and uses all sorts of different processes. My favourite is the cider matured in Rum casks!

    Anyway good producers are:
    Crones
    Whin Hill
    Gwatkins
    Olivers
    Mr Whiteheads
    Hecks
    Glebe Farm
    Barnards
    Ans Tricky Cider Co,

    Oh and here is a picture from the pub! some_text

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    I don’t love beer very much myself since for some reason it gives me a headache after a glass or so… But I’ve recently discovered taiwan’s lychee beer which I can drink just fine and it does’t taste like normal beer; it resembles cider or a dessert white wine~

    (Warning: It can be a tad sweet for folks… But they have different flavours too~)

  26. Thumb up 0

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    Love this post and the comments! Angry Orchard is my go-to, and I’m starting to see it on tap at a few places. I just scrawled a list of kinds to try that folks have suggested and will look for them this weekend.

    Must go to England someday.

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    I have gotten shit for not drinking beer since I was 21. Everyone always thinks they’ve got the beer that will change my mind. Turns out, maybe I just don’t like beer? Then I moved to the PNW and got introduced to the incredible world of cider.

    There are a lot of great local cider’s if you are in WA ( but honestly my favourite is J.K. Scrumpy’s Hard Cider from an orchard in Michigan.

    Also, bonus: “Scrumpy” is an incredible word.

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    PRAISE THIS POST. I love all kinds of cider, peach is definitely a favourite though. Up here in Canada, we have Growers which makes flavours like saskatoon berry and black cherry and mango! It’s the only bubbly drink I’ll have!

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    If you ever want to drink a slice of apple pie, find some Vander Mill Totally Roasted. It’s got cinnamon roasted pecans in it, which somehow produces a magical dessert flavor without being too sweet. Add a shot of Jameson for an extra special treat.

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