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Hard Apple Cider Revival Pours Across The Country

The Rev. Nat West, right, an ordained minister, preaches the Gospel of good cider -- "the apple’s deepest purpose realized" -- and is renowned for exploring the boundaries of cider making, starting from his basement and now flowing from 12 taps at his northeast Portland, Oregon, taproom. Credit: Copyright 2015 Zester Media

The Rev. Nat West, right, an ordained minister, preaches the Gospel of good cider -- "the apple’s deepest purpose realized" -- and is renowned for exploring the boundaries of cider making, starting from his basement and now flowing from 12 taps at his northeast Portland, Oregon, taproom. Credit: Copyright 2015 Zester Media

Three cheers for the nationwide revival of the all-but-lost American hard cider tradition! This renaissance is an outgrowth of spreading interest in locally sourced products and farm-to-table cuisine. Where there were perhaps a dozen artisanal hard cider makers in 2000, today there are 400, with new farm-to-bottle cideries opening every day.

These fermented apple and pear juice beverages are not all the same. In the Spanish tradition, the ciders have a slight vinegary flavor and lots of funky mushroomy, savory notes on the finish. English hard ciders are austere drinks that highlight the tannins from the apple skins with refreshing acidity. French-style hard ciders tend to be softer and a touch sweeter. Most hard ciders have a light spritz.

Tom Wark, a longtime wine industry publicist, launched “The Cider Journal” last year to track artisanal cideries and give vent to his passion for the movement. “These are complex, interesting drinks that are worlds away from the sweet, artificial tasting stuff I used to think was hard cider,” he says. “There is a growing band of dedicated craft cider producers across the country. Some have been at it for years, others not so long. But all of them are artisans.”

From the vast apple orchards of the Northwest to the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia, here is Zester’s look at some of our favorites.


Main photo: The Rev. Nat West, right, an ordained minister, preaches the gospel of good cider and is renowned for exploring the boundaries of cider making, starting from his basement and now flowing from 12 taps at his northeast Portland, Oregon, taproom. Credit: Copyright 2015 Zester Media


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