There’s one drink that sticks out as a delicious substitute when the seasons change and the need for a cool, energizing drink arises. Hard cider is a well-known for its tasteful balance of mild tartness and fruity sweetness, making it a flexible and satisfying option for a variety of situations. We’re going to introduce you to some of the best options out there as we take you on a flavorful journey through the world of this beverage in this article. This libation offers a wide range of options, with a centuries-long history and a current resurgence in popularity. We’ll take you on a tour through some of the most amazing options available, from the crispest and driest to those bursting with abundant fruit notes.
One of the first well-known hard cider brands to hit the United States, Angry Orchard ranks highly on our list of best hard ciders. For me, an Angry Orchard hits the spot on a hot day even better than a light beer or hard seltzer. This brand is available both in any grocery store, but also sometimes on tap at your nearby fast-casual restaurant or local bar. In 2020, Angry Orchard became the top-selling hard cider in the United States. Angry Orchard originally debuted the Crisp Apple flavor in 2012. This initial launch proved so successful, that a flood of new Angry Orchard flavors now graces the shelves. Experiment with Tropical Cider, Traditional Dry, Cinnful Apple, Peace Mango, and Strawberry.
Stella Artois Cidre
Stella Artois became the first major beer brand to experiment with hard cider in 2011. After its initial success, competitors like Heineken and Carlsberg crossed over as well. Stella Artois Cidre stood out with its commitment to pure apple flavor and a lighter recipe. Stella Artois Cidre never expanded to other flavors or other trends like similar cider brands. Instead, Stella’s Cidre builds upon its reputation for premium alcoholic beverages. If you are looking for a classic hard apple cider taste from a legendary brand, this is it.
Blake’s Triple Jam
Michigan is the third-largest apple producer in the United States. This makes Michigan cider manufacturer Blake’s Hard Cider uniquely positioned to deliver a fantastic apple-based product. Blake’s Hard Cider adopted a farm-to-glass approach for their hard cider brand. The apples that are fermented and pressed into hard cider come from their 75-year-old family orchard. This local touch makes Blake’s Triple Jam flavor of hard cider extra special. Blake’s Hard Cider also prides itself on using half the amount of sugar as other popular hard cider brands. A closely-honed blend of five apples, as well as strawberry, blackberry, and raspberry, delivers the delicious Triple Jam flavor. Blake’s also offers cans with quirky names like Flannel Mouth, for their apple cider. El Chavo is this Midwest brand’s unexpected mango-habanero pepper drink. Tropical flavors and fall favorites like caramel apple and apple pie round out this creative cidery’s offerings.
Wölffer No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider
This New York-based hard cider delivers European style and sophistication to the hard cider arena. This dry rosé cider ranks highly, for its crisp flavor and low sweetness. Red and white varieties of hard cider are also available from Wölffer. The No. 139 Dry Rosé Cider graces menus in select restaurants and in specialty liquor stores. As the names imply, this brand’s approach leans toward wine comparisons instead of beer. Instead of pairing this variety with a cheeseburger or fish and chips, consider drinking with a charcuterie platter or fruit salad. Try this cider for a chic baby shower or brunch. The packaging is almost as wonderful as its flavor!
Austin Eastciders Spiced Cider
“Cider Isn’t Supposed to Be Sweet,” this cider brand boldly proclaims. Austin Eastciders uses traditional European cider apples for its recipe. They claim these apples deliver the purest cider flavor with two-thirds less sugar than competitors. Many cider brands are gluten-free, but Austin Eastciders is also certified kosher. Austin Eastciders offers several flavors, like Dry Cider, Spiced, and Blackberry. This Texas-based brand provides some unexpected tastes too, with Cucumber Agave and Chili Lime Watermelon. Find Austin Eastciders at select restaurants and stores throughout the American South.
Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider
Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider provides authentic apple cider taste filled with heritage and history. This brand does not experiment with flavor, offering only this apple cider and a sparkling pear variety. Drinkers can depend on Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider to deliver the classic cider taste. This brand is a trusted name for beer in England, owning and operating 200 of its own Industrial Revolution-era pubs. I think the most authentically British experience is drinking a Samuel Smith Organic Cider within a genuine, centuries-old pub! This brew is safe for vegetarians and vegans, using organically-grown European apples for a classic, light apple flavor. This cider is still produced at a small, independent brewery, known as the oldest brewery in Yorkshire, England.
Shacksbury Rose Cider
This Vermont-made apple cider describes itself as a fine wine, including descriptions of its aging and tannins. Keep this in mind when choosing a Shacksbury Rose Cider. I was surprised by the distinct wine-like flavor of this beverage versus the much sweeter recipes from brands like Ace or Angry Orchard. This brand takes the healthy, organic trend of apple ciders to the next level. In addition to other wine-inspired flavors, Shacksbury also offers wild apple ciders. These brews are made from foraged apples, providing an unpredictable taste that ages with time – like a fine wine.
Strongbow Gold Apple Cider
The first time I visited England I quickly learned that a Strongbow was the quick way to order something delicious. This classic drink appears in most pubs and restaurants. Increasingly, Strongbow is available stateside as hard cider continues to grow in popularity. Strongbow delivers classic hard European apple cider flavor. Unlike American varieties, Strongbow tastes much drier and less sweet. Skip the beer and pair your next order of chicken wings or pizza with a refreshing Strongbow. Enjoy this terrific hard cider in tall boy cans, bottles, or on-tap throughout the United States.
Woodchuck Amber Hard Cider
Born in 1991, Woodchuck Amber Hard Cider started making cider in Vermont before the latest craze. Its focus on more traditional flavors and a down-to-earth approach keep me coming back for more. Woodchuck even debuted Amber Hard Cider in a can to satisfy its customers and provide a delicious roast turkey recipe! Amber Hard Cider is made using red apples, providing a heartier, medium-bodied flavor. Try other Woodchuck flavors like Sangria, Granny Smith, or Bubbly Pearsecco. This brand is widely available at grocery stores and can sometimes appear on tap.
Crispin Original Hard Cider
Crispin Original Hard Cider also joined the market during the cider craze of the 2010s. Born in Minneapolis, Crispin benefited from the legendary University of Minnesota’s apple research. Delicious Minnesota-born apple varieties like HoneyCrisp are used for the elegant, clean flavors of Crispin Original Hard Cider. Flavors like Pacific Pear and Brut also highlight a signature light, fresh taste. Crispin offers a traditional European cider with the Browns Lane variety.
Downeast Cider Original Blend
Juicy, flavorful Downeast Cider Original Blend departs heavily from the light, delicate ciders on this list. A bold cider brand that isn’t afraid to be sweet, Downeast offers flavors like Orange Creamsicle and Blue Slushie. Like many brands on this list, Downeast Cider Original Blend can be shipped nationwide. This brand is widely available in stores and bars throughout New England and scattered locations along the East Coast and Midwest.