Friday, March 5, 2010

Beer's Brother: Hard Cider

I love beer. Beer has been and will always be my drink of choice, though I do also drink wine on occasion, and spirits as well. Beer has been with us here in America since colonial times. But there is also another drink that has been here as long as beer, and that is cider. Hard Cider has been popular in Europe for centuries, especially in countries such as England, Ireland, and France. Cider here in America, hasn't enjoyed steady popularity. Hard cider is apple cider that has been fermented, and is an alcoholic drink, usually coming in at about 6% abv, making it a bit more potent than your average beer.

In colonial times, cider along with beer, was an every day drink. As much hard cider, if not more, was being produced and consumed than beer at points in time. But somewhere along the line the tradition of drinking hard cider, was lost. There has always been small, local, pockets of hard cider production, but cider has become popular once again due to cider companies such as Green Mountain Beverage of Middlebury, VT makers of Woodchuck Hard Cider. Established as a brand in 1991 Woodchuck is the most popular of all American made hard ciders, its only real competition had been Cider Jack (now owned by Green Mountain) and Hornsby's Hard Cider.

I enjoy a good cider from time to time, and Woodchuck is a quality product that can be found in bottles in beer stores, supermarkets, and bars. I've even seen the cider on draught at some good beer bars, but you will find the bottled product more than the draught. I like that Woodchuck offers some variety, but I enjoy the original Woodchuck Draft Cider. I also enjoy Cider Jack which once was produced by The American Cider Company, but is now just a label for Green Mountain. Hard cider tends to fall into two categories, French and English. French ciders are sweeter, while English ciders are less sweet and drier. American ciders have some sweetness but tend to be dry like their English ciders. Both Woodchuck and Cider Jack are excellent hard ciders.

Woodchuck pours to a bright, deep golden to light amber color, with a slight white head that quickly fades. Carbonation is very lively. The nose has a nice sweet/sour apple aroma. The palate delivers more tart and sweet apple flavors. Woodchuck finishes with more apple flavor and dries on the tongue. Cider Jacks is pretty much the same, but a little lighter in color, a little less sweet, and drier in the finish. I like them both.

Thes are crisp, refreshing, hard ciders. I'm a beer drinker, but I have always been a cider drinker as well. Especially when I give beer up for Lent!! Cider is a nice change of pace from beer and I nice alternative to wine for a beer drinker. I like drinking hard cider also because there really is a tradition involved. It is as much a part of our American heritage as beer is. Hard ciders works really well with pork and turkey. I would match this with roasted pork loin, baked ham, or roasted turkey. This makes a nice aperitif, and would go great with a desert of hot apple pie. Woodchuck and Hornsby are easy to find, Cider Jack in select markets. If you have never had a hard cider, Woodchuck is a great place to start. For more information visit their site at: or

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