Ah, cider. Beer for people whose tastebuds haven’t yet been overtaken by the Stockholm Syndrome that is “acquired taste.” It has a similar alcohol content, but is fruitier, sweeter and generally more pleasant than whatever IPA or stout the guy next to you is going on about.
Luckily for us, Chicago gets it. In a celebration of cider that would make any college student weep tears of joy, this year the city hosted its annual cider summit. 48 cider vendors were in attendance, and so with four hours and plenty of drink tickets I tackled the Chicago Cider Summit in the search of Spoon’s new favorite cider.
1. Virtue Cider – The Mitten
Aged in a bourbon barrel, the Mitten is bright, crisp and acetic. The bourbon comes through in the aroma as well as in the finish. This cider is good for someone who wants a middle of the road cider that isn’t too sweet.
2. Tieton Cider Works – Cranberry Cider
A personal favorite, this cider has a warm, cinnamon aroma reminiscent a freshly baked pie. It has a strong cranberry flavor, complemented by cinnamon and apple notes and a tart finish. On the sweeter side, this cider is a fantastic way to mix up the cider experience.
3. Uncle John’s Hard Cider – Apple Blueberry
Despite it’s ruby red appearance, this cider is all about the blueberries. It has a distinct blueberry aroma and flavor that lingers on the back of your tongue. After a tart first impression, this cider has a clean, sweet and mild flavor that makes it great for beginner drinkers.
4. Sheppy’s – Oak Matured Vintage Cider
This cider is a complex one that I would recommend to more experienced cider drinkers. The most noticeable trait of this cider is its distinctly floral aroma. It has an oaky, extremely dry flavor that is also nutty and spicy. This cider has a depth and richness that would be appreciated by beer connoisseurs looking for a new favorite drink.
5. B. Nektar – Zombie Killer
Despite the intimidating name, this cider is very mild and clean. With notes of fruit and honey, and a brightness comparable to Riesling, I would recommend this as the ideal beginner cider. A very pleasant and refreshing drinking experience.
6. 2 Towns Cider House – Made Marion
This interpretation of cider is a blackberry cider made with Marion berries (hence the name). The flavor is dryer than you would expect given its intensely fruity, sweet aroma, but it is well balanced with distinctly juicy, berry notes.
7. Black Star Farms – Apple Cherry Cider
From a completely subjective viewpoint, I would call this cider the winner of the summit. The famous Traverse City cherries used in drink really are the star of the show, being the most present flavor. It is smooth, juicy, rich and slightly tart. This cider will please drinkers of all palettes.