Though cider can be made from any apple, most cider cultivars never see the produce aisle. Apples fall into four flavor categories: sweet, sharp, bittersweet and bitter-sharp. (“Sharp” refers to acidity and “bitter” indicates the presence of strong tannins.) With names like Brown Snout, Improved Dove, Chisel Jersey and Striped Beefing, cider apples are more astringent than eating apples like Granny Smith or McIntosh. Cultivars are often blended to create ciders that range from extra dry to quite sweet.
In the U.K., the world’s largest cider market, one out of every 12 pints pushed across the mahogany is apple-derived. Cider also has a long history here, beginning in the colonial era when water was unsafe to drink and even children were given alcohol. In those days, cider was the most popular beverage. It’s enjoying a comeback today after a long period of neglect. Try one of these, preferably fireside under a blanket on a crisp fall evening.
Delicate, gingery, slightly creamy
Tart, slightly yeasty, bright fruit notes
Farnum Hill Extra Dry
Medium-bodied, slightly tart, strong apple flavor
Full-bodied, dry, caramel and nutty tones