Hard ciders gets a bad rap—especially among beer swigging crowds who’d rather just write it off as fizzy apple juice for lightweights. That’s their loss. Today’s top hard ciders are as complex, nuanced, and downright eyebrow-lifting as the beefiest double IPA. If you’re a suds guy, before scoffing yet again at this underappreciated fruit brew, allow us to make a proper re-introduction.
Here are some of the finest hard ciders for guys who don’t typically like cider.
These Hard Ciders Are Everything Beer Lovers Don’t Know They’re Missing
1. Artifact Cider Project Slow Down
Massachusetts-based cider innovator, Artifact, wants to change the way you think about cider—and coax you to take your sweet time to appreciate it. Their latest release, Slow Down, takes that mission about as literally as it gets. Brimming with 100% McIntosh apples, the beverage offers minerality and fresh citrus notes, accompanied by a hint of funk. We could all do with some slowing down right now, so why not take this 6% ABV cider’s lead. Preferably with some quality oysters —a perfect pairing.
[$36, 12-pack; artifactcider.com]
2. Oliver Winery & Vineyards Original Beanblossom Hard Cider
This crisp, light, and gluten-free cider is made with a varied blend of Midwestern apples—think Ida, Red, Jonathan, Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Empire and Gala—and never deigns to contain any concentrates. Thanks to the winery’s vino savvy, Oliver uses its state-of-the-art winemaking facility to work magic on apples that their suppliers press a day before fermentation begins. The company cold ferments the apple juice, halting the process at the ideal moment. At 8.3% ABV, this one’s a slower-sipper.
[$6.50 per bottle; oliverwinery.com]
3. Original Sin Brighter Times
Brighter times? We’ll drink to that. This cider made from pressed New York apples leans a little retro-tropical thanks to the inclusion of a ‘70s-reminscent, Hawaiian-style “POG” blend (passion fruit, orange, and guava) that carefully eschews oversweetness. The 6% ABV cider is actually rather dry and complex—but can still let you dream of warm faraway places.
4. Rootstock Ciderworks Dry Cider
Based in Williamson, New York (a.k.a. “The Core of Apple Country”), this fifth-generation farmstead cidery situated near the shores of Lake Ontario uses culinary and dessert apples—including Jona Gold, Ida Red, and Golden Delicious—for a brew that drinks like a fine craft beer. If you think you detect notes of sparkling wine, you’re not too many ciders deep. Rootstock Cider is strikingly reminiscent of bubbly thanks to the strain of yeast used in its making.
[$11 per bottle; rootstockciderworks.com]
5. Rootstock Ciderworks Hopped Cider
This modern, single-variety cider made with Crispin apples and locally-grown Cascade hops offers hints of citrus and pine. Finished with a touch of residual sugar, the beverage’s acidity carefully balances its sweetness. The end result is crisp, refreshing and semi-dry—complemented by a brilliant yellow-green color that has been compared to summer hay.
[$11; 6-pack; rootstockciderworks.com]
6. Highpoint Cider Tram-Line
A ginger infusion lends this 6% ABV cider a clean, crisp finish with a faintly playful zing. Handcrafted in Teton country and made with freshly pressed Rocky Mountain apples, this invigorating cider is the one we’d elect to toss into a daypack for a celebratory post-hike toast. In addition to the trail, the Mosaic dry-hopped, citrusy beverage also pairs very well with spicy food.
[$13, 4-pack; vinoshipper.com]
7. Artifact Cider Project Wild Thing
Forgive us if we suggest that Artifact’s Wild Thing—a tart, aromatic cider, crafted with 100% McIntosh apples—may very well make your heart sing. Tasting notes of honey, saffron, and stone fruit help this moderate 5.4% ABV crowd-pleaser pair well with hiking boots if the kickass woods-inspired can design is any added incentive.
8. Highpoint Cider Transplant
Another release we love from the Jackson Hole-based Perez brothers behind Highpoint, this traditional semi-dry New England-style cider is smooth, slightly cloudy, low-sugar, and made with delectable Rocky Mountain apples. Perfect for a New Hampshire expat heading West for even higher hills and thrills.
[$13, 4-pack; vinoshipper.com]
9. Artifact Cider Project By Any Other Name
They call it a “brunch and beach cider.” We call it the perfect rosé alternative after a long day of Zoom meetings. What’s behind the pretty pink hue of this dry, delicate creation hiding behind the most floral can design we’ve ever seen? A smattering of fermented blackcurrants for color, fruit and a hint of floral notes.
10. Haykin Family Cider Niedzwetzkyana
This Aurora, Colorado cidery only uses apples and yeast without any additional sugar or flavorings—so brace yourself for bold, unadulterated apple taste in each sip. Boasting a mighty 8.1% ABV, this unique drink is made with the Niedzwetzkyana apple, an ancient fruit traced back to Central Asia (home of the Forbidden Fruit). The fabled varietal lends the cider a unique crimson color and a remarkable round taste with a hint of tart cherries.
[$16 per bottle; haykinfamilycider.com]
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