Somehow we’re racing toward the end of 2021. It doesn’t feel possible, but I’m ready to start choosing my favorite ciders of the year. Why start early? This list was hard to make. I could not fathom taking one more fantastic cider out of my cellar and forcing it to compete in this field. Cider makers made my job really difficult this time around!
Usually I create a favorite 10 ciders of the year countdown for my last blog post of the year. I want to modify my tradition ever so slightly this year and divide the list into two posts. This year I’m sharing five from my top ten list today, and continuing the countdown next week.
My rules are simple. All ciders reviewed in the past year are eligible. No cidery gets to show up more than once. These are my favorites. I acknowledge my subjective, individual, and perhaps even whimsical tastes.
Here are all of my previous years’ top 10s! Please go back and find your favorites!
First ever cider countdown from 2013: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/12/my-10-favorite-ciders-of-2013.html
10. Union Hill Cider’s Pink Heart
This is a beautiful example of a well-balanced, easy-drinking, delicious rose cider. I love its fruitiness, acidity, and sparkle. This cidery based out of East Wenatchee, Washington made something solidly delightful. One of the really interesting characteristics about the Pink Heart is that this cider uses majority red fleshed apples but doesn’t limit itself to them; it incorporates Dabinett apples as well. I think that is a wise choice because this is a stunner.
9. Tilted Shed Ciderwork’s Wickson
This is not a surprising choice for me. I love Wickson crabapples, and Tilted Shed did a brilliant job crafting an intense little burst of flavor into a thoroughly delectable cider. It has everything: tannins, acid, sparkle, and zest. Tilted Shed, out of California, has to be one of my favorite west coast cideries; they know how to appreciate a wild and funky cider without letting that party rage too hard.
8. Slyboro’s Rose and Sky
The Rose and Sky calls itself imperial because it’s ABV reaches 10%, something I don’t see regularly in the cider world. The cider wears it’s higher alcohol content well; the cider is creamy and full bodied. I enjoy the Rose and Sky’s intense tiny bubbles. This off-dry cider is tremendously fruity but also delivers some lovely brioche crumb notes as well. I highly recommend trying anything by New York producer Slyboro Ciderhouse, but the Rose and Sky is fantastic choice.
7. Eve’s Cidery Orchards and Pastures
Eve’s Cidery appears on my favorites list regularly; I cannot argue with that. The reason is that this Finger Lakes Cidery knows how to make delectable dry bubbly ciders! Orchards and Pastures is a special aged cuvee blend with a wild yeast fermentation. I love how gently funky yet perfumed it smells. Orchards and Pastures manages to show off barrel fermentation, wild foraged apples, perry pears and lees aging. All of this complexity adds up to a truly splendid cider.
6. Liberty Ciderworks Major Hewes
This cider combines two crabapples (Hewe’s and Manchurian) with the Major: a classic UK cider apple. This feels almost like stacking the deck, but then Spokane Washington’s Liberty Ciderworks uses neutral oak for aging and wild fermentation to boot. It smells leathery with notes of orange and overripe apple. I love how it really brought a serious amount of both tannins and acidity. This is a tasty cider and one that you cannot drink without being transfixed by its herbal notes and UK cider-inspired profile. It is a delight that I’m so grateful Liberty Ciderworks created.
That’s all for now, cider friends. Catch up with the rest of the top ten next week, and until then, stay safe and bust out the good stuff!