Change is all around us at this time of year.   The color of the leaves, the cooler temperatures and the rainier days.  As fall takes hold, how about trying a different type of beverage?

One of the hottest drinks on the market right now, is hard apple cider.  Hard apple cider is a fermented beverage made from apples, with an alcohol content of about 6%-7%, which is much lower than wine (13%-14%).  The unique combination of fruit flavor, carbonation and bright acidity make today’s hard apple cider a winner!

I’m guessing you don’t want to hear all the details of the cider making process, but it goes something like this. Step 1- juice the apples.   Step 2-add yeast to the juice.   Step 3-allow fermentation to finish.   Step 4-enjoy the final product.  Sounds simple, right?

Here’s a little more to consider: Like wine, hard ciders can range from sweet to dry.   For sweeter hard ciders, the cider maker stops the fermentation process while there is still some sugar left in the base apple juice.   Whereas, with the drier hard ciders, the cider maker allows the fermentation to finish, resulting in almost no residual sugar.  Additionally, the final flavor of the hard cider can be changed by adding in juice from other fruit.  That’s why we see hard ciders in cherry, peach and cranberry flavors.

Currently, the Wine Shack carries two hard ciders from Blue Mountain Cider Company, located in Milton Freewater, Oregon.   The first, Blue Mountain’s Eden Ridge Hard Apple Cider is made from five different apple varietals, all of which are grown in the Pacific Northwest.   The Eden Ridge cider is slightly sweet and lightly carbonated, with delicious tastes of apple.  I recommend chilling the cider and serving it with turkey, pork or root vegetables for a new and distinctive experience.

We also carry Blue Mountain’s Cherry Hard Apple Cider, which starts with the same apple blend as the Eden Ridge Hard Cider, but also includes a splash of juice from Pacific Northwest cherries.   The result is a Hard Cider with nice cherry flavors and a brightness from the slightly higher acidity.  Again, I recommend that you chill prior to serving.   The Cherry Hard Apple Cider pairs nicely with a pork tenderloin or ham with a cherry glaze.   The Cherry Hard Apple Cider would also be nice with chocolate desserts.

Still a little unsure?  Stop by the Wine Shack during November for a taste.  We will be pouring these hard ciders in our Tasting Room on the weekends (Winter Tasting Hours Saturdays, 1-5 pm), and we’re likely to have bottles open throughout the month for a quick sample during the week.

The last thing you should know is these hard ciders are really easy on the wallet.  They come in 22 ounce bottles, which is just a bit smaller than a standard bottle of wine, and sell for less than $10.  Great deal!

We hope you will come and give them a try and also remember that even though these hard apple ciders have lower alcohol content than wine and fruit flavors, they still contain more alcohol than domestic beer.   Enjoy in moderation.