When hard cider began its modern revival a few years ago, the prevailing style was sugary and uncomplicated, seemingly designed for a sweet tooth. Fortunately, cloying ciders have gradually given way to drier versions, as well as evolved to an array of styles, from hopped ciders to fruit-laced ciders to bone-dry versions that mimic Champagne.
While hard cider may still be a few years behind craft beer when it comes to style diversity, a growing class of upstate New York cidermakers are making up that ground. With spring looming, here are a few fruitier styles that would fit warmer days like a glove. (All were found at Port Jeff Beverage Beer Store in Port Jefferson Station).
Graft Cider Book of Nomad / Tangle of Titans: Graft Cider, based in upstate Newburgh, uses New York State apples for a prolific range of ciders flavored with mission figs, tamarind and other offbeat herbs, fruit and hops. Their Book of Nomad series — served in illustrated, almost irresistible cans — is devoted to “fruited sour ciders.” The excellent, fuchsia-hued Tangle of Titans cider doubles as a gose (or sour, salty beer style) and is flavored with blackberries, blueberries and strawberries; it’s almost tropical, but still puckery and bone-dry, with a saline edge. $16.49 for a four-pack of 12-ounce cans.
Graft Cider Cloud City / Vermilion District: Graft Cider’s Cloud City series is devoted to ciders made with milk sugars, and Vermilion District (the name matches its color) is shot through with tart cherries, plus a lace of hibiscus for tartness. $16.49 for a four-pack of 12-ounce cans.
Embark Craft Peach Apricot Saison Cider: Slightly sweeter than the Graft Ciders, this pale, fizzy cider is flavored with apricots and peaches grown on the farm of the growers who own the cidery outside of Rochester. It’s made with Belgian yeast and partially aged in barrels, so the stone fruit flavors are never in your face — instead, they hang in balance. $7.49 for a 500-milliliter bottle.
Original Sin Elderberry Hard Cider: The tartness of elderberries are balanced by ample sugar in this ruby-hued cider, the sweetest and, probably, biggest crowd pleaser of the bunch. It’s also the easiest to find. $13.99 for a six-pack of 12-ounce cans.