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Move over, craft beer. Hard cider is gaining traction. And no need to press for reasons.

Hard apple cider has found a tangy, delicately carbonated spot in the hearts of the 21-plus set. That’s partially due to the gluten-free craze, says Nick Smith, a wine and cider outreach specialist at UW-Madison. The marketing of mega-brands like Crispin and Angry Orchard has also helped, he adds.

Lumped in with wine for tax purposes, cider is created from the liquid of macerated apples (usually a blend of varieties), which is then fermented with yeast before being carbonated and packaged in dark bottles, like beer. Cider’s alcohol content is generally higher than a traditional American lager, but lighter ciders go down just as easy. We found four Wisconsin-made ciders, all available in the Milwaukee area, that prove our state could very well become known for the other golden suds.

 

Island Orchard Cider's Brut Apple Cider. Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.Island Orchard Cider’s Brut Apple Cider 

➸ Ellison Bay
➸ 193 miles from Milwaukee
➸ Fantastically tart with minimal sweetness and a 6.9 percent ABV (alcohol by volume). Seconds are necessary. Thirds? Maybe not.

 

Ciderboy's First Press. Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.

Ciderboys’ First Press 

Stevens Point
➸ 156 miles from Milwaukee
➸ Smells like a Jolly Rancher. Mass-produced like one, too. Don’t let that stop you. This 5 percent ABV-er is for those who like their cider very sweet.

0216_Cider_AeppelTreow_arm_20151221_V0A4398_FINAL_MORRISAeppelTreow Winery & Distillery’s Appely Brut

Burlington
➸ 39 miles from Milwaukee
➸ Extra fragrant, with sharp carbonation, 8 percent ABV and a mellow tang. Packaged in a green champagne-style bottle, it’s a perfect substitute for all of your toasting occasions.

Ela Cider Co.'s Stone Silo. Photo by Adam Ryan Morris.Ela Cider Co.’s Stone Silo

Rochester
➸ 32 miles from Milwaukee
➸ Smooth bubbles, very light in color, 5.6 percent ABV, and the crispest of the bunch. It’s a solid debut from the small new brewery.

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‘Juicy Fruit’ appears in the February 2016 issue of Milwaukee Magazine.

Find the February issue on newsstands beginning Feb. 1.

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