It’s hop season, which means green gold for brewers all over the country. And while much of the harvest ends up in breweries, some intrepid cider houses get in on the action, too.
In fact, a good hopped cider can be singularly special. When a good producer finds the right connection between a specific hop variety and a batch of apples, sparks can fly. It’s an exceedingly cool hybrid drink that can bridge the divide between beer drinkers and cider drinkers. Those who love the former and think they don’t like the latter (or simply haven’t tried it) will find intrigue in a hopped cider. It’s a gateway style that can lead you to even more subcategories within the world of cider, from berry to fruit-infused ciders, even non-alcoholic options hit with a pinch of CBD.
How are they made? Much like in brewing, the cider is hit with fresh hops — or in some cases extract, or some other form — late in the production process. This steeping of sorts allows the full aromatics and flavors of the hops to wiggle into the cider, changing the overall complexion, often for the better. The partnership makes a lot of sense, given that hops tend to be piney, tropical, and citrusy. Apples can be the same way, or at least offer all kinds of complementary flavors. And with some 300-plus cider varieties in cider land, you’ve got work to do to find your favorite match.
So, with hops like Cascade, Amarillo, Strata, and more coming in by the truckload as we speak, we thought it a good time to break down the best ciders that utilize the decidedly beer-y ingredient.
Here are 5 of the best hopped ciders to get your paws on.
This batch out of Portland fuses wonderful hop components with the juicy, tropical nature of pineapple. The apple comes through too, thanks to fresh-pressed, locally grown fruit grown right in the cidery’s general vicinity.
One of the most readily available hopped ciders on the market, this one from Washington’s incline is easygoing and refreshing. The hop notes are present but do not overpower the brightness and crispness of the underlying apple.
Made with Galaxy hops, this lighter option is great for the warmer days of late summer and early fall. It’s on the dry end and shows plenty in the way of fresh fruit and baked apple notes.
Prominent West Coast brewery Modern Times has teamed up with Vermont’s esteemed Shacksbury for a going release of various hopped ciders. Look out for carefully crafted, ever creative releases that will show the best of both wonderful worlds.
This New York-made cider features two kinds of hops for a tart and citrus-driven end result. It’s listed as a mimosa cider, so no hard feeling if you crack one or two during the late morning hours over brunch.
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