An Apple A Day …

It is turning into such a beautiful Autumn – trees changing colors, mums and pumpkins everywhere and abundant varieties of fresh apples. What a good topic for my column: hard cider. Hard cider is a common staple in England and Ireland.{{more}} Before the popularity of beer in the 1800’s, hard cider was the most popular and widely produced beverage in Europe. Today, there are many breweries in the U.S. that make hard cider. I decided to look for some in our local liquor stores. Names like Angry Orchard, Wood chuck and Crispin can be found in the beer section of every store. I like to talk to store owners because they know their products. I bought and sampled some of the oldest, newest and most popular of the brands . What I discovered about hard cider is that unlike beer, it is gluten-free. The basic fragrance and taste is like biting into a fresh sweet apple and represents Fall on the palate. Most hard ciders are carbonated and effervescent, though not as bubbly as most beers. I’ll share with you my tastings.

Strongbow—Produced and bottled in Hereford England. With 125 years of cider making experience, this cider was created in 1962. A combination of bittersweet cider and apples make this a well-balanced drink. It is 5 percent alcohol, with a light efference and a bold apple flavor.

Stella Artois Cidre—This is the newest addition to the great Belgium beer producers. With a 5 percent alcohol content Cidre is a blend of crisp apples with a slight hint of orange. It is light and bubbly with a good strong fruit taste. Delicious.

Angry Orchard Crisp Apple— One of the most popular this cider is made by the Sam Adams company. It has an alcohol content of 5 percent and a slightly sweeter crisp apple flavor. It is a refreshing well balanced drink with an apple filled aroma.

These next three ciders are all flavored ciders and can be found in local liquor stores.

ACE Berry Cider— Produced in Sonoma County California, this 5 percent alcohol cider is made by combining fermented apples with fresh blackberry and raspberry juice to make a light purple color. The flavor was more berry than apple with less sweetness and more fermentation. It melts in your mouth.

Woodchuck Pumpkin Cider—Made in Middlebury Vermont with a 6.9 percent alcohol content, this flavorful pumpkin cider pairs with any food from appetizers to desserts. For a real kick add a shot of vanilla vodka.

Angry Orchard Green Apple—This cider is made from a blend of tart apples with a 5 percent alcohol content. The taste is less sweet with a gentle efference and a soft bite. Drink this any time of the day. It’s light and lovely.

My tastings this past week enhanced the beauty of the season – pretty sights, sweet aromas and lingering tastes. I hope you will enjoy all this too.

Contact Rita with your comments and recommendations at