3 must-try ciders this summer

From the United States, there's Angry Orchard Crisp Apple. Angry Orchard is an offshoot of the...

From the United States, there's Angry Orchard Crisp Apple. Angry Orchard is an offshoot of the Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams). Since they opened in 2012, they've taken 50% of the American cider market.(Supplied)

Jordan St. John, Special to QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 12:59 PM ET

With the North American cider market continuing to expand in the way that it has over the last three or four years, companies are desperate to get in on the action. It’s unlike the cooler craze that happened in the 1990’s because cider can range from artisanal to the mass-produced. The cooler craze was more or less a made up category. Cider is a recovering tradition. That said, it takes time for the artisanal producers to ramp up production. In the meantime, we’ve got new products in Canada this summer from quite large companies looking to make an impact.

From South Africa, we’ve got Savanna Dry Premium Cider. It comes in a round-shouldered bottle and is the colour of sundried straw. The marketing is unapologetically jokey, and the name itself leads me to question whether you can actually grow apple trees in the Savanna. The basic cider is sweet for the dry moniker, but is respectable as a mass-produced product. The flavour edges toward tart granny smith apples, but is not really intense enough to startle. The advertising material advises serving it with a slice of lemon. It’s a clever idea that allows the drinker to control the level of acidity. Without the lemon, it’s profoundly average; with the lemon, it’s quite enjoyable.

Molson Canadian has re-entered the fray after their successful launch of Molson Canadian Cider last year. It was an above-average product on par with Somersby. The new product, Molson Canadian Stone Fruit Cider tastes like sugared apricot and pear in a tin. I suspect that it is meant to be served over ice to prevent it from gluing your lips together with its sticky sweetness. It is just the thing if you’ve ever wanted to turn peach preserves into an alcoholic beverage. Might be good reduced as a glaze for roast chicken.

From the United States, there’s Angry Orchard Crisp Apple. Angry Orchard is an offshoot of the Boston Beer Company (Sam Adams). Since they opened in 2012, they’ve taken 50% of the American cider market. That figure is no doubt helped along by Boston Beer’s size, but Crisp Apple stands at least partially on its own merit. Apparently they’re importing apple varieties from Normandy and Brittany in order to make it. It’s an amber-tinged cider that nicely retains its carbonation. It tastes like apple jolly rancher candy at first, but then it splits and the candied sweetness turns dry, giving you some apple skin, a touch of seed and tannin. It is a little sweeter than I would like, but not without complexity or subtlety.

Of these three new ciders, Angry Orchard is the winner because it doesn’t need lemon or ice in order to create an enjoyable experience. It’s actually good enough to make me want to try the rest of the product lineup.

Jordan St.John writes about beer at saintjohnswort.ca; He wonders what we’ve done to get the orchard’s back up.


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