My Favorite Ciders of 2018

Happy New Year!  Now that it is nearly 2019, it is time for a list of some of my favorite ciders of 2018.  This is a tradition here at Cider Says; see here for my list from 2017, 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 2018.  Some of the categories overlap.  However, I cheated a bit, as I made the list first, then determined categories to put them in!

barrel aged:  Tieton Bourbon Peach – This has more juicy peach flavor than bourbon, but the two go well together, and there is some nice complexity for being made from dessert apples.

botanical-infused:  Finnriver Lavender Black Currant – This mouth-puckering tart cider is primarily black currant flavored, but also has hints of lavender.

brewery-made:  Central City Limited Edition Imperial Cider – Most ciders I’ve tried that were made by breweries were disappointing, but this one was awesome, complex, imperial-style, and bourbon barrel aged.

canned commercial:  Woodchuck 802 Collection ‘Lil Dry – Many commercial ciders are overly sweet and uninspired, but this was semi-dry, flavorful, and craft tasting.

cyser:  Merridale Cyser – This cyser was imperial style and had some nice flavor and complexity, beyond just tasting like apple and honey.

draft commercial:  Somersby Apple Cider – As much as I enjoy craft cider, sometimes a commercial cider really hits the spot, plus often that is all you can find.  This cider is from Denmark but I tried it in Canada on vacation.  Apple forward and not too sweet.

everyday English cider:  Newton Court Gasping Goose – I’m a huge fan of English cider, and this was a go-to of mine, although unfortunately it is no longer available.  Tannic, rich, flavorful, clean, and sessionable.

fancy English cider:  Oliver’s Gold Rush batch #2 – This cider is crazy rich and complex, and a lovely deep hue too.  A steal at $15/bottle.  Wish I could find more.  I picked some up on vacation, and got lucky when I returned the next year and they still had 1 bottle left, but haven’t seen it locally.

French cidre:  Eric Bordelet Sidre Brut Tender and Ferme de Beau Soleil Cidre Fermier Bio Brut – I’m also a big French cider fan, and tried a number of great selections this year, but these stood out.

French perry:  Pierre Huet Poire Demi-Sec – This French perry is unique, with its fluffy texture, tartness, great real pear flavor, and a bit less sweet.  I haven’t found any American perries like the French ones I’ve had.

French Pommeau:  Hérout à Auvers Pommeau de Normandie AOC – I tried this awesome Pommeau (cider + apple brandy) at Cider Summit.  I’m looking forward to opening the bottle of it that I bought.

fruity:  Portland Sangria – Very fruity, with unexpected complexity, a fruit salad sort of cider.

ginger-infused:  Kystin Kalysie – I’m not a ginger fan, but I actually enjoyed the hint of ginger in this French perry.

ice cider:  Woodbox Double Barrel – This is a less sweet ice cider, with rich concentrated flavor, and a twist, having been whiskey barrel aged.

large craft cider made with cider apples:  Schilling Excelsior – This was made using bittersweet cider apples in addition to regular varieties, but remains beginner-friendly, staying a bit sweeter and clean and such.  I’m seeing more mainstream ciders being made using cider apples, although often it seems like it must have been a small amount.  The cider apple influence was definitely noticeable in Excelsior though.

New England style:  Alpenfire Tempest – The style is characterized by the use of brown sugar and raisins, and this is a great example.  It even reminded me of English cider.

pineapple cider:  2 Towns Pacific Pineapple – This cider is bursting with real fresh pineapple flavor, yet its less sweet.

Pommeau:  Phillippi Fruit Snow Dance – This U.S.-made Pommeau is super flavorful and complex, and reminiscent of cyser.

rosé:  Manoir du Parc Authentic Rosé and La Chouette Cidre Rosé – Both of these sweet French rosés are made from red-fleshed apples plus pears, and have a lovely fluffy texture.  I’m not sure if I could even tell them apart in a taste comparison, they are so similar.

single varietal:  Liberty Kingston Black – Made from only Kingston Black cider apples.  Tart, rich, and complex, with a hint of sweetness, which I appreciated, as often these sorts of ciders go completely dry.

tannic cider:  Finnriver Fire Barrel version 1 – Super tannic, flavorful, and complex, reminiscent of English cider.  I wasn’t as much of a fan of their more recent version 2 of it though.

tropical:  One Tree Staycation – I loved the complexity of this, which was unexpected for a cider from dessert apples.  I drank way too much of this over the summer!

unexpected:  Fresh Cut Watermelon Cider – Based on the can design and flavor, I was expecting this Canadian cider to be fake and syrupy, but this was superbly done, real tasting and semi-dry.

unique:  Kystin Cuvée XVII – 16 varieties of apples plus chestnuts are used in this unique, complex, tannic, and nutty French cider.

Well, there you have it, a list of 26 of my favorite ciders from 2018.  They have a lot in common – most are mid-level sweetness, rich, complex, and full-flavored.  What are some of your favorite ciders?

Malus zine

I recently received the first issue of Malus, a new cider zine.

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The first issue included:
– editor’s notes by Ellen Cavalli (of Tilted Shed)
– poetry by Bill Lyon (of Cider View Orchard)
The Trouble With Craft – It’s Not What You Think, by Mike Reis (of Redfield Cider Bar & Bottle Shop and more)
Don’t Be Angry – Give Ryan Burk a Break, by Darlene Hayes (of All Into Cider and Cider Cocktails: Another Bite of the Apple)
Cider Cons – Considering the Triple Entendre, by Andy Brennan (of Aaron Burr)
Made in America – The Case for the Seedling, by Kim Hamblin (of Art+Science)

I really enjoyed it.  None of these articles would have been published in any mainstream way – they were unique, thought-provoking, and relevant.  I’d highly recommend this for any cider enthusiast.

You can subscribe on their website, for $25 per year (4 issues).  Without advertising (at least at this point), I doubt that covers much more than printing and postage.

Has anyone else read the first issue of Malus yet?

Vacation Time

Hi everyone!  This is just a quick note that I’ll be on vacation for the next week (another cruise – yay), so there won’t be any new posts.  You can keep yourself occupied with my previous reviews though.  Have you checked out my Ciders I’ve Tried page lately?  Its a site index of sorts that literally lists every single cider I’ve tried, and the vast majority of them link to tasting notes or a review.

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Cider Says turns two years old!

A big thank you to my readers for helping Cider Says reach a new milestone, its second anniversary!  I’ve really enjoyed sharing my cider journey with all of you.  Its been fun, and I look forward to more years of blogging.  In the past year I’ve made over 200 posts, and had 35,000 visitors.  The majority are from the U.S., but folks from several dozen other countries have visited as well (Canada and the UK are the next two most common).  This summer I’ll be attending several cider tasting events (including the epic Cider Summit Seattle!), so look forward to some awesome posts here.

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New Page At Cider Says – Review Terminology

A new page is now up here at Cider Says, Review Terminology, which defines the various terms I use in reviews.  On a more general note, Cider Tasting Terminology 101 defines some common cider tasting vocabulary.

Also check out the other pages on this blog:

About is about this blog and myself.

Ciders I’ve Tried is an ongoing list of ciders I’ve tried, including links to those with reviews.  This list has proved helpful several times when I couldn’t remember if I had tried a cider.

Cider Wish List is an ongoing list of ciders I want to find and try.

Hard Cider Info is a page covering some general information about cider.

Cider Says 1st Anniversary

Thank you to my readers for helping Cider Says reach its first anniversary!  I never imagined how popular it would become.  Its been a fun ride and I look forward to more cider-related debauchery.  This summer I’ll be attending several cider tasting events (including the epic Cider Summit Seattle!), so look forward to some awesome trip reports and tasting notes.

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Vacation Week

Just a FYI, I’ll be on vacation for a week (Alaska cruise!), so there won’t be any posts for a bit.

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Here are some popular previous posts of mine to tide you over:

4 Posts on the Port Townsend Cider Route (Alpenfire, Finnriver, and Eaglemount)

Tasting Notes from Seattle Cider Summit 2015

My Favorite Ciders of 2015

Here are some of my favorite cider blogs:

Cider Journal

Along Came a Cider

Cider Guide

See you next week!