My Favorite Ciders of 2017

Happy New Year!  Now that it is 2018, it is time for a list of some of my favorite ciders of 2017.  This is becoming a tradition; see here for my list from 2016 and here for my list from 2015.  To make it a bit different and easier, I put them into categories instead of trying to do a top ten list or similar.

Note that I wouldn’t try to make a list of the best ciders, just those I enjoy, as it would be an impossible task to try every cider out there and be impartial.  The cider world is very regional, so likely only readers in the NW would have a similar selection.  My only criteria for this list is that I drank the cider in 2017.  Some of the categories overlap.  Truth be told, for the most part, I made the list first, then determined categories to put them in!

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Budget-Friendly French Cidre:  Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut (Brittany) or L’Hermitiére Cidre Brut (Normandy) – These selections retail for $4.99 and $7.99 respectively.  The Dan Armor is only sold at Trader Joe’s.  Both are on the sweeter side of semi-dry and are true to their respective styles (although the Normandy one is more beginner friendly than many others, as it lacks sourness and only has minimal funk).  The Dan Armor is one of my top picks to introduce folks to good cider with, as it is different from sweet commercial selections, but not so out there as to turn folks off to it.  Its also a nice gauge on sweetness, as it is in the middle of the range.

 

Fancy French Cidre:  Domaine de la Minotiere Cidre Fermier Bio Doux or Pierre Huet AOC Pays D’Auge Cidre – I tried so many amazing French cidres this year that I had to include more than one!  These selections cost a tad more than the previous two, $12 and $19.99 respectively, but also have more complexity.  Both of these are low ABV selections, and the Doux was significantly sweeter, as expected for the classification.

 

English Cidre:  Newton Court Gasping Goose (330ml bottles) or Henney’s Vintage (500ml bottles) – Both of these English imports are very budget friendly and tasty.  A bit sweeter than some English ciders (on the sweeter side of semi-dry), rich, and tannic, but not bitter.  Newton Court is available in Seattle, but I’ve only seen the Henney’s in Portland (and only tried the one bottle).

 

Swiss cider:  Cidrerie du Vulcain Premiers Emois – This cider from Switzerland reminds me of French cidre, but has a style all its own.  It was made from Organic native heirloom apples, and wild yeast fermented using traditional methods.  The result was a semi-sweet cider with an awesome fluffy texture and complex fruitiness (but with less apple and yeast forward flavor as most French cidres).

European-Style U.S. cider:  2 Towns Traditions Cidre Bouche – This cider is by far the closest to a French cidre than any other U.S. cider I’ve tried.  It was a noticeable improvement from last year’s vintage as well.  Lots of rich ripe bittersweet apple flavor.  Unfortunately it costs more than most French cidres, as even with the import cost, their production costs are lower, as cider apple varieties aren’t rare like they are here.

 

Perry:  Ramborn Perry – I tried two selections from Ramborn Cider in Luxembourg.  This perry was complex and amazing, with notes of canned pear, dried pear, mango, pineapple, and guava.  Like most perries, as pears have unfermentable sugars, it was a bit sweeter, semi-sweet to semi-dry.

New England style:  Cockrell Colonial Winter – This cider is of true New England style, a high ABV cider with the addition to raisins and brown sugar.  Rich, complex, and perfect for winter.  It is my favorite version of this style so far.

 

Food-Friendly Cider:  Eden Semi-Dry or Eden Guineveres Pearls – Of these, the Semi-Dry is drier, much easier to find, and less expensive.  Both however are excellent selections, quite flavorful, but without anything that would overwhelm or clash with most meals.  They are also some of the most tannic on this list, same as the English selections.

 

Rosé:  Alpenfire Glow – This sweet cider is made from rare red fleshed apples, and similar to Eve’s Rustica (listed below), is amazingly fruity, with a high flavor intensity.  Here the flavor notes were watermelon, strawberry, and rhubarb.  It was a perfect Valentine’s Day cider (a gift from my husband – he knows me well)!

Barrel Aged:  Finnriver Fire Barrel – Note that this pertains to the previous releases of this cider.  I haven’t been nearly as big of a fan of Fire Barrel once they moved to 750ml bottles, as it was not nearly as flavorful (plus the price increased significantly).  In the older version, I love the complexity, intense barrel aged flavor (which is rarely found in cider), and high tannins.

 

Fruity:  2 Towns Prickle Me Pink ^2 – This cider was made using prickly pear cactus fruit, plus, new for this year, watermelon.  The result is a fluorescent pink fruity cider which is surprisingly complex and flavorful, yet fairly dry.

Rich:  Angry Orchard Maple Wooden Sleeper – This cider was made from bittersweet apples, with Crown maple syrup, then bourbon barrel aged for 12 months.  It resulted in a 12% ABV cider, super rich and complex, with a flavor profile including caramel, brown sugar, maple, oak, vanilla, bourbon, and molasses.  This was a truly artisan small batch cider, worlds away from their typical commercial releases.

 

Spicy:  2 Towns Man Gogh – I’ve never been a fan of spicy ciders, but I finally found one I could enjoy!  Here the hint of spice (from habaneros) was balanced by the fruitiness, sweetness, and acidity of the cider with mango.  This was an imperial cider, but way too easy to drink.

Commercial:  Spire Mountain Dark & Dry – I typically drink craft ciders, but I still drink commercial ciders from time to time.  This one is far from dry (more like semi-sweet), but is dark, and has some great molasses flavor.  It pairs really well with greasy food, like a burger or fish & chips.

 

Unique:  Eve’s Rustica – This is Eve’s sweetest cider (besides their ice cider), and my favorite.  I loved all the flavor they were able to showcase without any additions (just apples & yeast), with notes of honey, cream, vanilla, melon, strawberry, watermelon, pineapple, and peach.

Unexpected:  Snowdrift Cidermaker’s Reserve – This cider was made from heirloom & cider apples, but in contrast had a very unique unexpected flavor profile, with pomegranate, white grape, stone fruit, leather, butterscotch, and citrus notes.  It is unique, complex, and bubbly.  My husband is also an especially big fan of this cider.

 

Value:  Schilling King’s Shilling – I’ve picked up a 22oz bottle of this for as low as $4 (at Total Wine, actually cheaper than at the Cider House), which is a steal for a tasty barrel aged brandy infused cider.  This is more sessionable than you’d expect too.  Semi-dry and semi-sweet, with notes of honey and citrus, plus hints of maple syrup, oak, and spice.

Unexpected & Value:  Finnegan Cider Harvest Blend – This was another unexpectedly awesome cider which was also a great value.  I picked this up in Portland, for just over $7 for 500ml of cider from cider apples.  Semi-dry, with richness, high carbonation, and notes of rich ripe apples, caramel, leather, orange, stone fruit, honey, oak, and apple brandy.

 

Favorite from a New-to-Me cidery:  Woodbox Double Barrel Whiskey Barrel Ice Cider – This was the first (and only) cider I have tried from Woodbox, at Cider Rite of Spring in Portland.  I bought a bottle, but haven’t wanted to open it yet.  Lots of whiskey flavor in addition to caramel, vanilla, oak, and more.  It was rather budget-friendly for an ice cider too, at $17 / 375ml.

Pommeau:  2 Towns Pommeau – This remains my favorite Pommeau.  Super flavorful, rich, and complex, with notes of ripe apples, oak, dried fruit, leather, brown sugar, caramel, burnt sugar, vanilla, tropical fruit, and peaches.

 

Ice Cider:  Eden Cellar Series The Falstaff – This year I was spoiled with an amazing treat, a bottle of Eden’s 7! year barrel aged ice cider.  This ties with Alpenfire Smoke for the most complex cider I’ve ever drank.  The flavor was all over the place, from molasses, caramel, and brown sugar, to tart green apple and lemon, to raisin, to pie spices.

Overall:  Alpenfire Smoke – This 16% ABV sipping cider has an amazing complexity, with rich oaky smokey flavor.  If I had to name just one favorite cider, this would be it.  However, it is not an everyday sort of cider.  They recently released a new batch of it, but I haven’t tried it yet (I’m still working on my stockpile of the old version).

Other:  Also, while I’m at it, my favorite cider event in 2017 was Cider Summit Seattle, my favorite (and only) class was by Rev Nat, and my favorite bottle shop & bar was Schilling Cider House.

Well, there you have it, a list of 26 of my favorite ciders from 2017.  They have a lot in common–most are rich and full-flavored.  What are some of your favorite ciders?

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Angry Orchard Pear Cider

Review of Angry Orchard’s Pear Cider.  This is a new release.  See the press release here.  Note that this isn’t perry as it is made from both pears and apples.  I’ve previously sampled their Crisp AppleTraditional Dry, Elderflower, Summer HoneyThe MuseIcemanStone DryThe Old Fashioned, Knotty Pear, Walden HollowEasy AppleUnderstood in Motion 01, Tapped Maple, Spiced Apple, Maple Wooden Sleeper, and Understood in Motion 02.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Angry Orchard.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Pear Cider
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY (their R&D facility)
Cider Production Locations:  Cincinnati OH & Breingsville PA
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial pear cider made from dessert apples & pears

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Availability:  wide release, year round, since October 2017 (they have a Cider Finder)

Cider Description:  Angry Orchard Pear Cider is delicately crafted to highlight the mellow sweetness of pears. Using apples and pears grown in the US, this hard cider blends ripe pear taste with crisp apple notes for a well-rounded and smooth drink.

Made from pear varieties including Bartlett, D’Anjou, and Bosc, and apple varieties including Gala, Fuji, Golden Delicious, and Granny Smith.

Ingredients:  hard cider, water, cane sugar, malic acid, pear juice from concentrate, natural flavor, carbon dioxide, and sulfites

Price:  n/a (retails for $7.99-9.99 / six pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  a cidery rep contacted me

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First Impression:  Medium straw yellow.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of pear juice and apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Moderate tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of pear, pineapple, green apple, and mango.  Long tart finish.  Low to moderate pear flavor and complexity.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  The finish was really surprising though, as the tartness lingered much more than I’d expect (maybe the malic acid?).  It was easy to drink and it didn’t bore me, although tasted a bit commercial.

Most Similar to:  Crispin Pacific Pear.  Or, for a craft choice, Longdrop Tanager Pear Cider.  Or in between, Flatbed Pear Cider.

Closing Notes:  I was told that they will also still continue to make their Orchard’s Edge Knotty Pear (a pear cider with cardamom and oak barrel aging).

Have you tried any pear ciders?  What did you think?

Understood in Motion 02 (Angry Orchard & EZ Orchards Collaboration)

Review of Understood in Motion 02, Angry Orchard’s second release in the collaboration series, this time with EZ Orchards.  The first was with Eden Specialty Ciders and released nearly a year ago (see my review of Understood in Motion 01 here).

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Angry Orchard.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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Cider:  Understood in Motion 02
Cidery:  Angry Orchard & EZ Orchards
Cidery Location:  Walden NY & Salem OR
ABV:  7.2%
How Supplied:  750ml corked & caged bottles
Style:  American craft cider from bittersweet & heirloom apple varieties, wild yeast fermented, partially Cognac barrel aged, dry & still

 

Availability:  Angry Orchard’s facility in Walden NY and at select locations in Oregon, released August 2017

Cider Description:  The east meets west coast with Understood in Motion 02, a collaboration between Angry Orchard Hard Cider and E.Z. Orchards Cidre.  The cider is a homage to style, tradition, and a shared respect for the integrity of the fruit.  Apples used are Bittersweet Muscadet de Lense and Marie Menard from Oregon, and heirloom, acid-forward Gold Rush and Northern Spy from New York.  The fruit was naturally fermented in a process that requires very little intervention but lots of careful attention.

Angry Orchard’s Ryan Burk and EZ Orchards’ Kevin Zielinski worked together on this cider over the last year.  This article has more information.

Price:  n/a (retails for $25)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I read about it online.

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First Impression:  Still (no carbonation).  Light pumpkin yellow hue.  Smells mild, of citrus and must.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry to dry.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Hints of bitterness, sourness, and funk.  Notes of lemon, grapefruit, straw, cork, honey, must, and wood.  Moderate length warming finish, which is when a slight Congac flavor shines through.  Low apple flavor.  Moderate to high complexity.  Low to moderate sessionability.  Low to moderate flavor intensity.  Low barrel influence.  Low to moderate spirit influence.

My Opinion:  I liked it, but didn’t love it.  I was hoping for more bittersweet apple flavor.  Although this definitely wasn’t a fully heirloom apple cider (as the acidity was muted), the bittersweets didn’t get to shine through, as it was lacking their richness.  The flavor notes I got from this were really interesting and unique.

Suggestions:  I liked this cider best in between fridge and room temperature, as the complexity increased as it warmed up.  I think it would taste good with something creamy, like cheese or a cream-based soup.

Most Similar to:  A mild farmhouse-style cider, such as releases from Wrangletown, Dragon’s Head Wild Fermented, and Angry Orchard Walden Hollow.

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I’ve had the opportunity to try these special releases not available locally – I’m spoiled with these samples!

Have you tried any of the Angry Orchard special releases?  What did you think?

Angry Orchard Maple Wooden Sleeper

Review of Angry Orchard’s Maple Wooden Sleeper, a bourbon barrel aged cider in collaboration with Crown Maple, a maple syrup company.  Here is an article with more information on the cider, and here is an article about recent Angry Orchard’s Innovation Cider House releases.

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<a mini bottle of maple syrup was included too!>

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Angry Orchard.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

Cider:  Wooden Sleeper
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY
ABV:  12.0%
How Supplied:  750ml waxed top bottles
Style:  American cider (made from bittersweet & bittersharp apples), with Crown Maple syrup, bourbon barrel aged for 5 12 months

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Availability:  only at Angry Orchard’s Innovation Cider House and Crown Maple’s tasting room, 400 bottles released March 2017

Cider Description:  For this very special and limited cider, we collaborated with our friends up the road at Crown Maple by using their estate grown organic maple syrup to blend with our barrel aged Wooden Sleeper.  The resulting cider is deep, complex, and layered with notes of oak, bourbon, and of course, New York maple syrup.  Maple Wooden Sleeper is best shared with family and friends to finish out a great meal.  Enjoy now or cellar for years to come.  Cheers!

Cidery Description:  The cider makers at Angry Orchard have been experimenting with apple varieties, ingredients and processes to develop hard cider recipes for more than 20 years. The cider makers have traveled the world to find the best apples for cider making and chose specific varieties – like French bittersweet apples from Normandy, culinary apples from Italy and the Pacific Northwest U.S. based on each cider’s desired flavor profile.

In fall 2015, Angry Orchard opened a new home for research and development on a historic 60-acre apple orchard in the Walden, NY. There, the cider makers will continue to drive experimentation at the Innovation Cider House, and drinkers are welcome to visit for samples of exclusive ciders made on-site. Despite the recent growth of hard cider in the US, the category is still small and relatively unknown. Angry Orchard is committed to drinker education and awareness-building to help grow the category for all craft cider makers.

Price:  n/a ($25 retail)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  I asked my Angry Orchard rep about it.  They spoil me!

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First Impression:  Dark amber hue (natural).  Still (no carbonation).  Smells rich, of caramel, maple, oak, and alcohol.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  Low tannins.  Low bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of caramel, brown sugar, maple, oak, vanilla, bourbon, and molasses.  Long warming finish.  Low maple flavor.  Low oak flavor.  Moderate bourbon flavor.  Very low sessionability.  Low to moderate apple flavor.  High complexity and flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  Amazing!  This is my favorite type of cider – rich, complex, and boozy.  However, this definitely won’t be for everyone, and isn’t very cider-like.

Most Similar to:  Alpenfire Smoke, which is also a rich, complex, and boozy cider (although Alpenfire’s cider is slightly more refined tasting).  This didn’t have as much maple flavor as the other maple ciders I’ve had, likely as it had so much else going on too.  The other maple ciders I’ve had are Angry Orchard Tapped Maple, Seattle Cider Oaked Maple, and Woodchuck Campfire Pancakes.  I’m actually surprised I haven’t seen more ciders with maple, as I think it is a great combination.  Rich and complex ciders are my favorite kind.  I’d love to try Downeast’s Maple cider, but they aren’t available out West.

Closing Notes:  I’m glad I got the chance to try this special release.  This is the second batch of Wooden Sleeper (the first didn’t have maple), and another is already in the works.

Have you tried Angry Orchard Wooden Sleeper?  What did you think?

Angry Orchard Spiced Apple

Review of Angry Orchard’s Spiced Apple, their newest limited release cider, with pie spices, only available in their winter variety pack.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by  Angry Orchard.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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Cider:  Spiced Apple
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY (their R&D facility)
Cider Production Locations:  Cincinnati OH & Breingsville PA
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  12 pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider made from dessert apple varieties, with pie spices

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Availability:  January thru April, wide release, in the Winter Orchard Sampler Variety Pack (with Crisp Apple, Easy Apple, Stone Dry, Green Apple, Tapped Maple, and Spiced Apple)

Cider Description:  Angry Orchard Spiced Apple was Inspired by the spices in this classic dessert and connection to the American cider making tradition. This hard cider achieves its balanced profile by combining bright and festive warming spices and a blend of culinary and bittersweet apples. This new limited release style is perfect for evenings with friends and family during the last months of winter.

Apple Varieties:  Pacific Northwest dessert varieties (Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, and Gala French)

Ingredients:  hard cider, water, cane sugar, apple juice concentrate, malic acid, natural flavor, carbon dioxide, sulfites

Price:  n/a (but retails for $15.99-$18.99 / 12 pack variety pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Light amber hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of sweet concentrated apple with pie spices.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to sweet.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No sourness, bitterness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of concentrated apple, cinnamon, nutmeg, and honey.  Moderate length finish.  Moderate apple flavor.  Moderate flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Low complexity.  Moderate spice intensity.

My Opinion:  This is a pretty typical sweet spiced cider, which isn’t one of my favorite styles.  I didn’t find any faults with it though.

Most Similar to:  Most spiced ciders I’ve had have been drier, like Elemental Seasonal Spiced Apple, 2 Towns Nice & NaughtyCarlton Cyderworks Sugar and Spice, Sonoma Cider The Sleigh, and AEppelTreow Sparrow Spiced.  D’s Wicked Baked Apple was on-par with this one as far as sweetness, but was more baked apple than spiced.

Closing Notes:  Angry Orchard still appears to carry their Cinnful Apple, which is a fall seasonal, while this is a one-off only available in this winter’s variety pack.

Have you tried Angry Orchard Spiced Apple?  What did you think?

Angry Orchard Tapped Maple

Review of Angry Orchard’s Tapped Maple, their newest seasonal cider, with Vermont maple syrup.

>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by  Angry Orchard.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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Cider:  Tapped Maple
Cidery:  Angry Orchard
Cidery Location:  Walden NY (their R&D facility)
Cider Production Locations:  Cincinnati OH & Breingsville PA
ABV:  5.o%
How Supplied:  6 or 12 pack of 12oz bottles
Style:  American commercial cider made from dessert apple varieties, with maple syrup

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Availability:  January thru April, wide release, in individual 6 packs plus 12 pack variety packs

Cider Description:  Angry Orchard Tapped Maple blends American culinary apples with maple syrup tapped from Vermont maple trees. The maple syrup – rich in flavor and natural maple sweetness – adds a delicate balance, creating a not-too-sweet cider with a strong maple-forward aroma, and full, round mouthfeel. This new seasonal style is perfect to enjoy around the dinner table or fire pit with friends during cooler months.

Apple Varieties:  Pacific Northwest dessert varieties (Braeburn, Fuji, Granny Smith, Gala, and Pink Lady)

Ingredients:  hard cider, water, cane sugar, apple juice concentrate, malic acid, maple syrup, natural flavor, carbon dioxide, sulfites

Price:  n/a (but retails for $8.99-$9.99 / 6 pack, or $15.99-$18.99 / 12 pack variety pack)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  n/a

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Still (no carbonation).  Smells of concentrated apple with a hint of maple.

Tasting Notes:  Semi-sweet to semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of concentrated apple with hints of maple and citrus.  Quick finish.  High apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  I enjoyed it.  Very drinkable, as it isn’t too sweet.  I was expecting more maple, but I’m glad they didn’t go overboard.

Most Similar to:  The other ciders with maple I’ve had are Woodchuck Campfire Pancakes (which was fake maple overload and very sweet) and Seattle Cider Oaked Maple (which had even less maple flavor than this one, and was drier).

Closing Notes:   This was a nice selection from Angry Orchard, although I’d like to see them improve their ingredient list.

Have you tried Angry Orchard Tapped Maple?  What did you think?

My Favorite Ciders of 2016

What an awesome year 2016 was in the cider world!  Cider Says has now been up for a year and a half.  Like other cider bloggers, I thought it would be fun to make a list of my favorite ciders of 2016.  See here for my list from 2015.  To make it a bit different and easier, I put them into categories instead of trying to do a top ten list or similar.

Note that I wouldn’t try to make a list of the best ciders, just those I enjoyed, as it would be an impossible task to try every cider out there and be impartial.  My only criteria for this list is that I drank the cider in 2016.

Multi pack:  Reverend Nat’s Revival – This one is complex for being made from dessert apples, with lots of unique flavor just from the yeast varieties used.  Celt – I always keep this easy drinking apple & yeast forward French cider in the house as its convenient & affordable.  Thatchers Green Goblin – For how commercial it is, I ended up really enjoying this sweeter simple English cider.

Canned:  One Tree Crisp Apple – I don’t usually go for plain flagship ciders, but this one had some nice unfiltered apple juice flavor without being over the top sweet.  Cidergeist Semi Dry – This reminded me of French cider; too bad it isn’t available locally.  Long Drop Vanilla Honey – Awesome honeycomb flavor.

French:  Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut – A $5 selection from Trader Joe’s which doesn’t disappoint and has some great apple forward sparkling goodness.  Christian Drouin Pays d’ Auge – I loved the bittersweet apple flavor, and that the funk remained mild.

English:  Aspall Imperial – Rich flavor, high ABV, and a low price tag.  Dunkertons Dry  (awesomely tannic) and Black Fox (nice fruity twist on an English cider), which I hope to find locally now that they are distributed in the U.S.

Italian:  Bertolinos – My first Italian cider, which I found to be simple but tasty, and budget friendly too.

Swiss:  Cidrerie du Vulcain Transparente – My first Swiss cider, which reminded me of French cider, in between the typical Brittany & Normandy styles.

Canadian:  Sea Cider Ruby Rose – This fruity high ABV cider is made with rhubarb and rose hips, making it a unique summer sipper.

Fruity:  Doc’s Draft Sour Cherry – A cherry cider is difficult to pull off without tasting medicinal, but the flavor is spot-on with this one.  Jester & Judge Pineapple Express – Although simple, this cider has some awesome pineapple flavor, a nice frothy texture, and a hint of lime.

Rosé:  Eden Imperial 11 Rosé – This drier cider with red currant is high ABV and amazingly fruity.  Alpenfire Glow – This sweeter cider is made from rare red fleshed apples and also amazingly fruity, with a high flavor intensity.

Limited Release:  Angry Orchard & Eden collaboration, Understood in Motion: 01 – This cider is only available at Angry Orchard’s Walden NY cider house, and was made from Vermont heirloom apples, barrel aged, and mixed with some ice cider; awesome!

Hopped:  2 Towns Hop & Stalk – I wouldn’t call myself a fan of either rhubarb or hops, but for whatever reason I really enjoyed this cider; the flavors really complimented each other and created a unique and surprisingly complex cider (I’m also a sucker for Imperial / high ABV ciders).

High ABV:  Alpenfire Smoke – This 16% ABV sipping cider has an amazing complexity, with rich oaky smokey flavor.  If I had to name just one favorite cider, this would probably be it, although its not an everyday sort of cider.  I hope it gets released again soon, as I’m down to only one bottle!

Oaked:  Sheppy’s Oak Matured – I love the strong oak flavor in this cider; as a bonus, it is budget friendly too.

Barrel Aged:  Reverend Nat’s Whiskey Barrel Aged Golden Russet with Black Currant – This was my favorite cider from Cider Summit Seattle 2016, with awesome berry, oak, and whiskey flavor.

Sparkling:  AEppelTreow Appely Doux – This methode champenoise cider has a wonderful texture & flavor, and would be a great champagne alternative.

Perry:  EZ Orchards Poire – I’m not a huge Perry fan, but those I do like tend towards the French Poire style; this one has a creamy texture and complex fruitiness.

Pommeau:  Etienne Dupont Pommeau – This is their Cidre Bouche aged in Calvados barrels with Calvados added, and is flavorful, rich, and complex.  Wandering Aengus Pommeau – Milder in flavor than some other Pommeaus, but still rich and complex.

Ice Cider:  Eden Heirloom Blend Apple Brandy Barrel Aged – I’ve enjoyed all of Eden’s ice ciders, but this is my favorite, as it had the added depth from barrel aging in addition to all the rich complexity of their typical ice cider.

Great Value:  Schilling King’s Shilling – I’ve picked up a 22oz bottle of this for as low as $4 (and as high as $7), which is a steal for a tasty barrel aged brandy infused cider.

Wine-like:  Honeywood Winery Hard Apple Cider – Quite different than I was expecting, but I liked it; this one reminded me of dessert wine with the white grape notes, higher ABV, and sweetness.

Draft-only:  Wandering Aengus Bittersweet – An amazingly rich and tannic cider made from bittersweet apple juice from Poverty Lane Orchards (Farnum Hill); wild fermented but it wasn’t funky.

Unexpected:   Gowans 1876 Heirloom – This cider almost seemed to good to be true, as it was so full flavored and apple forward.

Well, there you have it, a list of 32 of my favorite ciders from 2016.  They have a lot in common–most are rich and full-flavored.  Still, it seems like so many great ciders didn’t make the cut, which is unfortunate.

What are your favorite ciders?