Five Rockin’ Hard Ciders!

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Is it just me, or are the weekends getting shorter now that we’re nearing August? Having a hard time believing it’s Monday again! But it is, and that means it’s time for another guest post!! This time, from my pal Starr who blogs at

When I transferred from Catholic to Public School in the oh-so-awkward 7th grade, Starr was one of my first genuine friends. While she was a band geek, and I was a choir geek, our drama geekery (and a shared obsession with Les Mis) bound us for life. We haven’t physically seen each other since our days in the fine-arts hallways of high school. But some friendships reach beyond physical connections, don’t ya think? 

Starr was leery about writing a post on my blog since she *gasp* isn’t a huge beer lover. This is why we need some face-time, so I can help her through this. However, I am an equal-opportunity drinker, and believe that everyone should drink what they like. Everyone’s tastes are different. Just don’t judge me for my desire to drink hoppy IPAs. Also, it must be said that Lambic is beer, a Belgian in fact —  the beer snobs Starr refers to in the following post are not me. I repeat: Drink what you like, people! 

Starr DOES enjoy cider, which is becoming more & more available at local breweries AND wineries. While I’m partial to the vast options available at VanderMill (now available in beach-friendly cans!) Starr has 5 kick-ass options for all of us to enjoy. 


I don’t like beer. Light, dark, American, imported… it all tastes like piss to me. 

Well, let me amend that sentiment slightly. I do tend to enjoy Lambics (I’m especially fond of the peach and apple varieties from Lindemans); however, I’ve encountered many beer snobs who’ve scoffed and told me that Lambic isn’t “real” beer. Hmph. So, for all intents and purposes, I don’t like beer. 

julianI know, I know... you’re all shocked, dismayed, and wondering why the hell beer goddess Kelli deemed me worthy to contribute a guest post to her awesome beer-centric blog. Allow me to give you a few possibilities:
1) I have a super kick-ass blog of my own
2) just because I don’t like beer doesn’t mean I don’t know my way around a liquor cabinet
3) although I’m fairly certain I won’t like them, I’m totally open to trying new beers
4) I’ve known Kelli since we were pre-beer goofy nerds in the 7th grade, so she knows that I’m totally awesome. 

The good news for me is that while the world of craft beers is thriving, the same is happening in the world of hard ciders (aka the far superior beverage). Once thought of as the odd, misunderstood cousin of craft beer, hard cider has come into its own and been embraced by home-brewing hipsters and beer-haters alike.

A common misconception is that all hard ciders basically taste the same, as they’re all made from apples; however, just as each variety of apple has a unique flavor profile (as any good Michigan-raised girl knows!), so do hard ciders. This is especially evident when you move beyond the more well-known ciders produced by Woodchuck (which actually tend to taste more beer-like to me). 


Here are 5 of my current must-try hard ciders:

J.K. Cuvée’s Winterruption 
This organic seasonal Michigan hard cider is my all-time favorite. It’s a lightly spiced winter cider (although I’d drink it any time of the year!) made with cinnamon, vanilla, and a small amount of maple syrup. It is some serious sweet apple goodness. Bonus: they also make a fantastic non-seasonal cider!

Julian Cherry Bomb Hard Cider 
I first encountered this amazing cider at Cider Summit Chicago and haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. It has the perfect balance of sweet & dry and ends on a high note with a natural tart cherry flavor (they use Montmorency cherries, the most popular variety used for pies & preserves). 

Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple 
While the Apple Ginger variety is definitely the more popular cider, the Crisp Apple is my favorite of the Angry Orchard varieties. This is the sweetest of my favorites (almost like a Moscato), all thanks to the Fuji apples and hints of honey. It’s a very light & fresh cider – you can also use it to make a mean whiskey cocktail!

Virtue Cider’s The Mitten 
mittenThis is yet another favorite Michigan winter cider that I discovered at the Cider Summit. The Mitten is more complex than most ciders – it’s made with a blend of last season’s best (aged in bourbon barrels) and the new season’s fresh pressed apple juice. The result is a very strong sweet/tart cider.

Doc’s Draft Framboise Cider 
I love Framboise Lambics, so it should come as no surprise that I’m a fan of this fresh raspberry apple cider. It’s a light cider with a fun twist that pairs particularly well with dark chocolate. 

Is anyone else out there a fan of hard cider? Please leave me your recommendations… I’d love an excuse to try some new ciders (all in the name of blog research, of course). 😉


Starr blogs at and can also be found on twitter @chicagofoodieg, posting drool-worthy recipes & photos on Pinterest & Facebook as well. Give her a follow, you won’t regret it! 




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