Whether you’re a cider enthusiast or cider skeptic, our cider-loving team here at The Crafty Cask is rounding up our picks for the best hard ciders to try out this Thanksgiving and beyond. Because trust us, once you start sipping high quality craft cider you’re going to be hooked!
CIDER: Often referred to as hard cider in the United States, cider is a fermented, alcoholic beverage made from the juice of apples. It dates back to the Romans in 55 BC, but the beverage but became popular alternative in 13th century Europe because it was safer to drink than water and touted for its health benefits.
A Brief History Cider In Our Country
Cider has been present and popular in the United States since the founding of our country. The British loved their cider and brought it over with them. Not only was it delicious but it was also safer than water in those times. It remained popular, but, as with all alcoholic beverages, fell out of production due to prohibition.
For a variety of reasons (which you can learn more about here) cider did not make a comeback once prohibition was repealed. And the cider that did reappear in the market tended to be very different than the cider of early days. Primarily, it was much sweeter. This was partially due to the destruction of many varieties cider apple trees (because truly these types of apples are often so bitter or sharp that you can’t do anything else with them other than ferment them!) throughout our country during prohibition. The increasingly sweet palate the US consumer had developed as more commercially made and artificially flavored beverages inundated our markets also influenced this newfound sweetness in ciders.
U.S. Cider Today
Fast forward to the mid-1980s and the whispers of a craft cider revolution were beginning. Cider makers slowly started to appear, making cider more akin to historical ciders. These were drier & funkier, using heirloom apple varieties whenever they could be found.
Lucky for all of us here in Tippler Nation, this trend has slowly and steadily continued with over 1,000 cider makers in the US today. And yes! There is something for everyone. Dry, semi-dry, sweet. Still or sparkling. Traditional or Modern with fruit flavors, hops, or barrel aging.
So, if you’re not on the craft cider train already, jump aboard! We’re taking you on a spin through our staff picks for the best hard ciders for Thanksgiving (truly a perfect pairing in our founder’s opinion!) and beyond…
The Best Hard Ciders…At The Moment. According To Us.
Unless you’re new here, you know how we roll. There’s no such thing as “the best”! The best is truly what you like, and that depends on your palate. And it’s constantly changing as you discover and try new things. But as you get to know our team you’ll start to figure out who has a palate most similar to yours so you can start there with your discovery. The best way to find new favorites is to try new tipples…so let’s get you ready to do just that!
The Crafty Cask’s Picks
Sidra, Oak & Apple, Dry Hopped
Suzanne is all about the Spanish style ciders and Finnriver’s is one of her favorites! Dry with just enough funk and a little effervescence, the Sidra is perfect for your Thanksgiving cheese plate and appetizers. The Oak & Apple is wonderfuly complex for a truly simple and traditional cider while the Dry Hopped is perfect for all the beer lovers feeling a little skeptical about cider.
Wild Fermented Cider Mixed Variety
In Suzanne’s dream world, everything would be wild fermented! Botanist & Barrel’s “Less is More” Pét-Nat is a true revelation if you’re already into wild ferments and this whole sampler pack is a perfect introduction into traditional cider made the way nature intended. All three varieties sip wonderfully on their own and will cut through the richness of Thanksgiving dinner like a charm.
Farnum Hill Extra Dry
If you want something on your Thanksgiving table that drinks like Champagne, Jena says look no more! Earthy and complex with a perfect balance of fruit and acidity, this cider sips well on it’s own and is beautiful with food. But don’t stop there, Farnum Hill offers wonderful sampler packs to ship direct to your home (as well as single bottles!) so the whole family can enjoy.
Original Pear & Sloughhouse Jalapeño Pear
If you’re looking for a slightly sweeter or spicier cider than the roundup of dry and funky ciders on our list, Larissa suggests these two OGs from Hemly Ciders. Making good pear cider is NOT easy and this 5 generation pear farming family is the best of the best. While these two are our team’s top picks, the full line of fun flavors like chai, cherry, and rye barrel aged are all worth exploring.
Ice Ciders & Apertif Ciders
Evan’s pick for the best ciders for Thanksgiving and beyond are all about appetizers and dessert. Enter Eden’s incredible line up of Orleans apertif ciders (think amaros, but cider based!) and incredible ice ciders. Both line ups will live on in your fridge all holiday season long…if they last. While many people are afraid ice ciders and wines will be too sweet, these ice ciders are beautifully balanced with the tart juciness of the apple shining through. They’ll pair delightfully your holiday desserts and cheeses.
Share Your Best Ciders Too!
Now that you’re ready to try all of our favorite ciders, we want to know what ciders you love and are excited about! Drop them in the comments below and if you try any of our best ciders (all available to ship to your home at the links above) make sure to come on back here or tag us on social media to let us know what you think! Happy cider exploration…
Ready To Drink Some Cider With Us??
Join SipScout today and get ready for our upcoming craft cider kit!
Every month you’ll receive a different craft alcohol tasting or mixology kit to deepen your passion for craft cider, beer, wine, spirits, and cocktails. The first subscription club for craft drinks explorers, like you!