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?

Advertisements

Somersby Apple Cider

Review of Somersby Apple Cider.  It is my first time trying this, although I have had their Citrus Fruit cider.

Cider:  Apple Cider
Cidery:  Somersby
Cidery Location:  Copenhagen Denmark
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  draft (and cans and bottles)
Style:  commercial cider from dessert apples, back sweetened

Availability:  wide release

Cider Description:  Somersby Apple is refreshing cider made from fermented apple juice and natural apple flavouring. No artificial sweeteners, flavours or colourings. Its uniquely juicy apple taste makes it a tasty and natural choice for the relaxed moments with your friends. Best served over ice for maximum happiness… Enjoy!

Cidery Description:  Lord Somersby is the father of many great discoveries – but the most famous of them all is probably Somersby cider, which was once known as the favorite drink of celebrities like Napoleon, Cleopatra and Newton. Or at least that is what we have heard.

Available in many different delicious variants but the most popular variants of the Somersby portfolio is Apple, Pear and Blackberry. Somersby has obtained a reputation of spreading joy and sunny togetherness where ever it is served and attracting curious and open-minded people from all over the world.

If you are attracted to Somersby – but not exactly in the mood of travelling all over the world to taste one, don’t worry. You can enjoy a refreshing bottle of Somersby in more than 43 countries.  

Price:  ~ $7 CAN / pint
Where Bought & Drank:  a bar in Victoria B.C. Canada
How Found:  this was their only cider on draft

Photo Sep 27, 12 25 52 PM.jpg

First Impression:  Medium straw yellow hue.  Low to moderate carbonation.  Smells of apple juice.  Served with a few ice cubes.

Tasting Notes:  On the drier side of semi-sweet.  Light to medium bodied.  Low tartness and acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Notes of apple juice with a hint of grapefruit.  Quick finish.  High apple flavor and sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.  Low complexity.

My Opinion:  This was surprisingly tasty.  It really hit the spot after walking around all morning.  Way better tasting than their ‘Citrus Fruit’ variety (which I found to be overly sweet and artificial tasting).  Yes it is definitely in the alcoholic apple juice category, but for me this one wasn’t overly sweet, syrupy, fake, etc, and a better choice than many other commercial ciders.  As much as I enjoy craft and especially heritage ciders, sometimes you just want something easy to drink and/or have to drink whatever is the best available option.

Most Similar to:  Stella Artois Cidre

Closing Notes:  I don’t think I’ve seen this sold in my area, but I believe it is available in some other parts of the U.S.

Have you tried Somersby?  What did you think?

Somersby Citrus Fruit

Review of Somersby’s Citrus Fruit cider, from Denmark.  I picked it up in Victoria B.C., a stop on our Alaska cruise.  Its the first cider I’ve tried from Somersby.

2016-05-28 19.20.54 2016-05-28 19.21.10 2016-05-28 19.21.01

Cider:  Citrus Fruit
Cidery:  Somersby
Cidery Location:  Copenhagen Denmark
ABV:  4.5%
How Supplied:  500ml can
Style:  Commercial cider from Denmark made from dessert apples with natural citrus flavor added

Availability:  wide release

Cider Description:  Somersby Citrus Fruit is a refreshing cider made from fermented apple juice and natural citrus flavouring. No artificial sweeteners, flavours or colourings. Its uniquely juicy apple taste makes it a tasty and natural choice for the relaxed moments with your friends.

Cidery Description:  Lord Somersby is the father of many great discoveries – but the most famous of them all is probably Somersby cider, which was once known as the favorite drink of celebrities like Napoleon, Cleopatra and Newton. Or at least that is what we have heard.

Available in many different delicious variants but the most popular variants of the Somersby portfolio is Apple, Pear and Blackberry. Somersby has obtained a reputation of spreading joy and sunny togetherness where ever it is served and attracting curious and open-minded people from all over the world.

If you are attracted to Somersby – but not exactly in the mood of travelling all over the world to taste one, don’t worry. You can enjoy a refreshing bottle of Somersby in more than 43 countries.  

Price:  $4 CAN (~$3 USD) / can
Where Bought:  The Strath in Victoria B.C.
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I think we get Somersby in the U.S., but I hadn’t seen this variety.

2016-05-28 19.20.34.jpg

First Impression:  Dark straw yellow.  Low carbonation.  Smells of strong slightly fake citrus.

Tasting Notes:  Sweet.  Full bodied.  Low tartness.  Moderate acidity.  No bitterness, sourness, funk, or tannins.  Moderate length finish.  Citrus notes–predominately lemon with some orange and grapefruit.  Artificial taste.  Low apple flavor.  High sessionability.  Moderate flavor intensity.

My Opinion:  This was disappointing, as I found the flavor fake, despite the claim to not use artificial flavor.  It was also rather sweet and syrupy.  I had hoped for something lighter.

Most Similar to:  Other simple sweet commercial ciders, although I haven’t had a predominately citrus one.  I’m a big citrus fan though.  My favorite alcoholic citrus beverage so far however isn’t a cider, but Crabbie’s Cloudy Alcoholic Lemonade.

Closing Notes:   I’m glad I got to try it, but I wasn’t impressed.  I couldn’t even finish it.

Have you tried Somersby?  What did you think?