Glasses of hard cider with ripe apples scattered around them.

Giving Beer a Run For Its Money

A traditional hand-powered home cider-making set up.
A traditional cider press

In the last decade, hard cider has experienced a surge in popularity among people looking for an alternative to beer and wine. What’s not to like? It’s a delicious beverage that’s much less bitter than beer, priced the same, and has a long history in Vermont. Vermonters have been fermenting and drinking alcoholic (hard) and non-alcoholic cider since the  mid-1600s. In recent years, Vermonters have renewed their enthusiasm for making hard cider, and we’re glad they have!

Over a dozen cideries have sprung up all over the state, taking advantage of the bountiful crop of locally grown apples known for their flavor and quality. Much like the popular trend of craft and micro beer brewing, hard cider production has swept across all 50 states–even Alaska and Hawaii have their own varieties of hard cider!  

Pucker Up

Unfiltered apple juice running from a cider press into a bucket.
Unfiltered apple juice

We like to think of cider as the tart, sometimes tipsy, unfiltered, older brother of apple juice. Unlike the process for making apple juice, the pulp and pieces of apple left over after pressing aren’t filtered out when making cider, giving it a hearty, robust flavor. Then, the juice and pulp is allowed to ferment, remaining unheated and unrefrigerated to allow the natural sugars to continue breaking down into alcohol. To further encourage fermentation, yeast is added to the cider.

If the unfiltered apple juice is pasteurized (heating liquids for short amounts of time to kill bacteria) before yeast is added, further fermentation is stopped and no alcohol is produced. The result is the sweet non-alcoholic cider we enjoy in the fall. When hard cider is left to ferment for too long, the alcohol breaks down into acetic acid and the result is apple cider vinegar, which is commonly used in cooking, and also offers many natural health benefits. Find some of our favorite apple cider vinegar recipes here and learn more about the benefits of apple cider vinegar here.

A Flavor For Every Palate

Hard cider can be sparkling (carbonated) like champagne and beer or still like wine. There are three common types of hard cider, which are classified based on alcohol content and sweetness. 

  • Dry cider has the lowest amount of sugar and the highest alcohol content, as all the sugar has been allowed to be broken down into alcohol. 
  • Off-dry cider or semi-dry has more sugar and a lower alcohol content with more apple flavor present. 
  • Semi-sweet and sweet ciders have the most sugar, a robust apple flavor, and usually the lowest alcohol content. 
A flight paddle with 4 glasses of cider ranging in color from golden to deep amber.
A flight of ciders to sample.

When you dine out in Vermont, it’s not uncommon to see at least one local cider on the beer and wine list. Many bars and restaurants have begun offering ciders on draught and by the can. Rather than only offering cider made from apples, many cideries have gotten creative by adding a wide variety of fruits and spices to their ciders. There are even varieties with hops added to create a unique dry IPA-cider hybrid that pairs well with a juicy steak or burger.

Most ciders, like the apples and other fruits they’re made from, pair especially well with pork recipes. They also make excellent braising liquid for barbeque and roasts, and add a kick to marinades. Their tart and crisp flavors make them a perfect between-bites palate cleanser for most dishes. Mix and match to find your favorite pairings. Cider is also a delicious alternative to beer for those who are gluten-free. 

On your next visit to Vermont, tour a local cidery and sample a cider or two in their tasting room. Try a flight of sample-size ciders to find the ones you enjoy most. Or stop into our store and pick up some local Vermont hard cider before you leave the Green Mountains.

Cans of Citizen Cider available for purchase in our stores.
Stock up on some Citizen Cider at our stores!

Vermont Cideries

Silo Distillery, Windsor, VT – 29 miles from our Rockingham, VT store

Little City Cider Co., Bennington, VT – 42 miles from our Weston, VT store

Fable Farm Fermentory, Barnard, VT – 47 miles from our Weston, VT store

Windfall Orchard, Cornwall , VT –  57 miles from our Weston, VT store

Mountain Mac Cider Company, Middlebury, VT – 59 miles from our Weston, VT store

Vermont Cider Co. (Makers of Woodchuck Hard Cider), Middlebury, VT – 61 miles from our Weston, VT store

Champlain Orchards, Shoreham, VT – 63 miles from our Weston, VT store

Flag Hill Farm, Vershire, VT – 69 miles from our Rockingham, VT store

Tin Hat Cider, Roxbury, VT – 76 miles from our Weston, VT store

Shacksbury Cider, Vergennes, VT – 90 miles from our Weston, VT store

Citizen Cider, Burlington, VT – 93 miles from our Weston, VT store

Cold Hollow Cider Mill, Waterbury Center, VT – 101 miles from our Weston, VT store

Stowe Cider, Stowe, VT – 109 miles from our Weston, VT store

Wildbranch Cider, Craftsbury, VT – 120 miles from our Weston, VT store

Eden Specialty Ciders, Newport, VT – 140 miles from our Rockingham, VT store

Please enjoy Vermont’s hard cider responsibly. Never drink and drive. Plan your trip through the Green Mountain State accordingly. We recommend booking a room at one of our many historic inns.