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.
➸ 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.
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.
➸ 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.
➸ 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.