There are plenty of good ciders to choose from these days, many of which are made in Central New York, or regionally.
Typically, the more discerning cider drinker is looking for something dry and effervescent, possibly from France, Spain or Britain; some of which produce cider refined enough to leave you thinking you’re drinking a fine French champagne.
But, as with wine production in the northeast United States, due to latitude and temperature, it can be tougher to produce drier, crisper products.
For cider, the apple varieties available, and again, the terroir that grew them, also lead to a much different product here than across the Atlantic.
One of the more interesting regional ciders of late has come from a couple of friends who started a cidery in East Boston using local apple varieties with an approach best designed for those apples.
Downeast Cider doesn’t try creating bone-dry, elegant champagne-esque cider, which would likely pale in comparison to the European classics. Instead, Downeast has fashioned their flagship cider to be a very approachable fermentation that resonates with a broad spectrum of palates.
Unfiltered — perhaps a nod to the current hazy IPA craze — their liquid looks much like an unfermented, non-alcoholic cider. It also drinks similar to a traditional cider with a fresh apple sweetness that pops with freshness, yet avoids being cloying. (According to Downeast, five fresh apples go into each can.)
The company has embraced the unfiltered aspect so much so that it recommends shaking the can before drinking, and then letting it sit for 10 seconds.
A slew of flavor options are available, ciders fermented with everything from pumpkin and berry adjuncts to grapefruit.
The Original Blend, however, is a hard cider that seems to attract the most attention for just being simple, straightforward and delicious; made from freshly pressed Red Delicious, Yellow Delicious, McIntosh, Cortland, and Gala apples from Maine (hence the “Downeast” moniker).
Letting these locally procured apples be themselves and getting the right blend ratio is what has really generated such appeal.
The Boston cidery has staked its identity on unfiltered, canned ciders, which suits them well in this haze-crazed market and solidifies their unique cider niche.
I’m always amazed how cider drinkers, and non-cider drinkers alike seem to enjoy it. If you haven’t tried it, and happen to be looking for something different this cider season, shake things up and head Downeast.
This week’s recommendation: Downeast Cider Original Blend, an unfiltered, semi-sweet, dark amber-colored hard cider. 5.1 percent ABV. Boston, Massachusetts.
— Colin Hubbell is co-owner of the Green Onion Pub and The Beer Hub in South Utica, NY.