Stop Drinking When Your Lips Go Numb
We have a family rule, when drinking home brewed hard apple cider, STOP when your lips go numb. Those that don’t heed the warning open themselves to public humiliation when they face plant in their dinner plate. You know who you are. I LOVE hard cider; it reminds me of my favorite season of the year – Fall. Our family gathers for an annual cider press day at the end of October every year; we cross our fingers hoping to get a freeze on the trees before the big day. When the apples freeze before they’re picked and pressed, the sweetness improves and the juiciness increases. We get together, pick the apples from the Winesap trees, take turns pressing the apples, sampling the sweet and tart juice, and divvying it up. A few gallons are always allotted for hard cider. It’s pure and delicious without junk added to it.
Since discovering I have Celiac Disease, hard cider has become my “go-to” instead of beer. Some people think of cider as “apple beer” but craft cider is closer to wine than beer. Think different varietals and fermentation methods. However, not all ciders are created equal. Craft Cider increases in popularity and becomes more mainstream every year. And that means that imposters abound serving up lower quality ciders with added “flavors” and preservatives.
Getting Crafty With Hard Cider
What is Craft Cider? When making craft cider, the focus is on how and with what, the product is made. It has to come from 100% fresh pressed cider apples. The quality improves when apples are fermented and matured in small batches without added sugar, sometimes small amounts of quality sugars or honey are used to aid fermentation. No concentrated juice or artificial ingredients are added. Craft ciders may vary a bit from batch to batch while big producers will have more consistency. Many craft ciders are only sold locally or regionally. Like wine, there are unique characteristics to each regions apples and climate; if you see a local craft cider give it a try. It’s a lovely way to experience the area and support local producers. Commercial ciders are often produced by big beer companies and are shipped long distance increasing the environmental footprint.
This article in Bon Appetit goes into more detail about what goes into making cider, what to look for when selecting a cider. https://www.bonappetit.com/story/naturally-fermented-hard-cider
If you live in Washington or plan on visiting Washington soon, I’ve included a map and directory of Washington cider makers.
As we spiral into the holiday season, put hard cider on the drink menu this year. When out making merry, look for a local craft hard cider; ask your bartender about the producer. Look for craft cocktails made with hard cider.
But…..be careful if your lips go numb.