While refreshing enough for the hot August temps, there is something about apples that make you long for crisp fall weather. This makes cider the perfect choice for late summer drinking. Minnesota has seen a boom in the marketplace for artisanal hard cider, and craft beer enthusiasts are learning that there is much to love about it. The cider selection at Surdyk’s is over 100 different varieties, and it seems to be one of the fastest growing sections in our store. and that’s no coincidence as cider is one of the fastest growing drink categories in America. Minnesota’s cider boom is part of the wonderful apple programs in Minnesota – Loon Juice from Four Daughters winery in Spring Valley MN is made with locally grown Honey Crisp apples.
The fermented alcoholic beverage made from apples has been a favorite in England for centuries, and was popular with our founding fathers after a hard day of democracy. Cider came to America with the Pilgrims, as well as the seeds to plant orchards. It was easier to produce than wine or beer, and in fact, most settlers often started their day with a mug of cider. So what happened? The German immigrants came over and along with them their thirst for beer, but mostly Prohibition. After it was repealed, the drink never really made a comeback… until now.
As one of the hottest categories right now, cider is attracting artisanal cider makers, craft brewers, and mega brewers as well. With hundreds of apple varieties, there is endless potential for creating unique ciders with spices and botanical flavors, hopped ciders, or barrel aged ciders. You can find ciders that are very dry with lots of tart acidity, to semi-sweet and juicy, or even yeasty, fine-bubbled, and complex like Champagne. These ciders are definitely not the sweet cider that first infiltrated the market as a beer alternative! Because cider is made from apples and not barley or wheat, ciders are naturally gluten-free. We also love them because they are so food-friendly – try cider with soft cheeses, salads, seafood, pork, anything grilled.
How ’bout them apples?!
May I suggest:
Sapsucker Farms Yellow Belly Cider – BUY
Produced by Sapsucker Farms in Mora, MN. This small-batch cider is made with a mixture of organic apples from Sapsucker Farms and Breezy Hill Orchard both in Minnesota. It is semi-sweet and a pure aroma of a farm fresh, juicy apple. It is delightfully refreshing, bubbly, and a slightly sweet apple flavor, plus a crisp, dry finish. This cider is a lovely summer sipper and would be a great addition to any backyard barbecue.
Seattle Cider Co. Gin Botanical Hard Cider – BUY
Mixology lovers, step over to the cider world for a minute! The aroma that meets you is herbal and refreshing. A blend of 6 apples is used in this cider, and it is co-fermented with spent gin botanicals. The flavors in this semi-dry cider are cucumber, juniper, and citrus. It is a crisp, clean, complex, and interesting cider should not be missed.
Virtue Cider Sidre de Nava – BUY
The Spanish also love their cider, and Virtue’s Sidra de Nava Spanish-style cider shows why. This style is more tart than the dry ciders of England or funky cidre from France. Its lemony nose and bracingly tart dry finish are a happy intersection of cider, dry white wine and fresh squeezed lemonade. It’s the most refreshing of drinks, pure sunshine in a glass.