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A sip of ciders.

Ciders, perries (fermented from pears), and fermented fruit blends of all kinds are proving popular with consumers. No longer relegated to applejacks and scrumpy of yore, today's ciders are sometimes spiked with liqueurs or herbal extracts, or fermented with wild yeasts, or barrel-aged and blended. At the Cider Summit in Chicago, more than 30 cider producers poured an assortment of artisanal and farmhouse ciders. Here are a few ciders to consider.

Aspall Cyder House (Suffolk, U.K.)

Elegant packaging makes an impressive presentation for this organic cider (6.8% ABV), fermented with yeast to yield the effect of a cider-like Champagne. The Aspall Peronnelle's Blush (5.7% ABV) is blended with creme de mure (blackberry liqueur) for a sweet, mellow finish, excellent with roast duck breast.

Angry Orchard (Cincinnati, OH)

Part of Boston Beer Co., Angry Orchard offers four year-round ciders--Crisp, Ginger, Traditional Dry and Elderfiower--as well as a limited-release Cider House Collection. Strawman, its newest unfiltered cider, is tart and earthy, made from a blend of European-grown apples, presented in a 750-ml., cage-corked bottle for table service.

AeppelTreow Winery (Burlington, WI)

AeppelTreow produces a line of traditional cider and perry, made with real pears. The Barn Swallow Cider (6.5% ABV), Appley Doux (7% ABV) and Perry (7% ABV) are balanced between sweet fruit and spritzy texture on the palate. These classic ciders are sold in cage-corked bottles.

Citizen Cider (Essex, VT)

A fresh, modern design underscores Citizen's artisanal approach to blending apple cider with other fruits during fermentation. The bRose (6.8% ABV) is deep in color, thanks to the addition of blueberries to the ferment. The Unified Press is tart and vinous, yet its texture turns sweet and more apple-y when paired with blue cheese or Dunbarton Cheddar.

Crispin Cider (Minneapolis, MN)

The brand offers seven styles of ciders made from U.S.-grown apples, including unfiltered Artisanal Reserve line, Honey Crisp, The Saint, and Landsdowne, modeled after drier European ciders. Crispin is also expanding into organic ciders, to attract more health conscious drinkers.

Farnum Hill (Lebanon, NH)

Traditional pre-Prohibition style ciders, both still and sparkling, are produced from heirloom bittersweet apples grown on site. The Dooryard Farmhouse still cider (6.5% ABV) has almost no discernable carbonation, yet its creamy texture showcases full apple flavor. The Xtra Dry (7.5% ABV) has a longer, fermented finish. Available bottled and draft; distributed in seven states.

Doc's Draft (Warwick, NY)

Doc's features a mild, slightly sweet Hard Apple (5% ABV) and the Hard Pear, with an aroma that's rich in green pear skin and refreshing with prosciutto and aged cheeses. The beverages are distributed across 16 states.

L'Hermitiere Cidre Brut (Normandy, France, imported by Shelton Bros.)

At 5% ABV, this is a big impact cidre made in the traditional French style, with a rich, yeasty edge. The Brut pours light gold and effervescent, tasting delightfully funky when paired with ripened cheese. The L'Hermitage Poire (4% ABV) made with pears is a bit sweeter in the finish. Available in cage-corked, 750-ml. bottles.

North Peak Nomad (Northern United Brewing Co.)

North Peak Nomad is complex, lusciously lactic and gently carbonated. Unlike some candy-sweet commercial ciders, the Nomad is unfiltered and cloudy, made from a blend of bittersweet and culinary apples grown near Traverse City and the Mission Peninsula. Packaged in 12-oz. stubby brown bottles, and quenching at 6% ABV.

Oliver's Gold Rush (Herefordshire, U.K.; Shelton Bros.)

This is a complex cider fermented in several stages, with a mix of Champagne, Brettanomyces and wild yeast strains. The cider ferments in wood casks for slow cold and malolactic fermentation in the spring, then inoculated with wild yeast for secondary fermentation, before final barrel aging and blending. Vivid gold color, with full apple nose and aromatics of oak, ending with a warming finish (6.8% ABV).

Samuel Smith's Organic Cider and Apricot Ale (Yorkshire, U.K.)

Samuel Smith's Organic Cider balances between acidity and sweetness, with a clean apple taste and full apple-skin aromatics. The Apricot Ale is a brilliant blend of beer, malt and sweet apricot, with a mellow fruit finish.

Vander Mill (Spring Lake, MI)

This cidery produces blends such as Totally Roasted, a cider infused with cinnamon sugar-glazed pecans for vanilla-nut sweetness and cinnamon apple taste. Blue Gold combines fresh blueberries with the aged cider for a sprightly berry taste, not too sweet. Both are medium bodied, at 6.9% ABV.

Lucy Saunders is a freelance food and beer writer based in Milwaukee, WI.
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Author:Saunders, Lucy
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Apr 1, 2013
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