Skip the sweets; these ciders are more beerlike in flavor and feel. When America was first being colonized by the British, most people didn’t trust water. They stuck to beer, brandy and, of course, cider. The colonists’ cider was dry and crisp, as it was made with bittersweet apples. Today, as the craft-brewing movement continues to grow, more brewers are branching out from sweet apples and reviving dry cider.
Since debuting in 2009, Broadway Brewery in Columbia, Missouri, has been focused on collaborations and sourcing local ingredients, thanks largely to founder and co-owner Walker Claridge. Broadway’s Blue Heron Organic Apple Cider is no exception: It’s made with organic apples from Dan Kelly’s five-acre certified-organic Blue Heron Orchard in Canton, Missouri. Claridge met Kelly nearly 15 years ago and has always admired his product, so when it came to adding a cider to the Broadway portfolio, he turned to his friend. “It’s a great apple with high sugar content,” Claridge says. “We typically get Jonagolds, Winesaps and Red Delicious; at the end of the year, we take whatever crops did best, combine all the apples and press them together.” Broadway’s cider is dry and smooth with a tart, crisp finish. “We use an aggressive Champagne-style yeast to dry it out as much as we can, and since Dan’s apples have such a high sugar content, when we ferment it, we come out with a high alcohol content.” Broadway’s cider is nearly 8 percent ABV; most ciders typically weigh in around 5 percent.
Broadway Brewery, 816 E. Broadway, Columbia, Missouri, 573.443.5054, broadwaybrewery.com
Kansas City Cider Co.
At Kansas City Cider Co., cidermaker Trafe Brewer uses a dry-hop method – adding a blend of hops post-fermentation – to make So Hopped Right Now. “This infuses the aroma and gentle hop flavor to our cider,” he says. “As opposed to hoppy beers, a dry-hop method doesn’t add the same bitter characteristics.” Brewer uses a selected blend of Mosaic, Citra and Ekuanot hops that balance the flavor of the hops and the cider into a fruity, citrusy and herbal profile. Kansas City Cider Co.’s other offering is the Prohibition Dry Cider, made with local apple varieties all grown within a 100-mile radius. Both ciders hit Kansas City bar taps last fall (Kansas City Cider Co. doesn't have a taproom). “We wanted to hold to the traditions of the ciders that have been made in Missouri in the past,” Brewer says. “We have unique apples that are only found in the Midwest.” The Prohibition Dry Cider has a heavy mouthfeel and a full, rounded profile. These two products are a reflection of the dry-cider movement, Brewer says. “Just like with the beer industry, it wasn’t until people started using traditional methods for making cider that they realized it's supposed to be dry and showcase the unique characteristics of the apples.”
Kansas City Cider Co., kcciderco.com
Brick River Cider Co.
“The primary difference between brewing and cidermaking,” explains Brick River Cider Co. cidermaker Evan Hiatt, “is that much like winemaking, cider starts with fresh fruit.” Hiatt spent his early career in wine at Les Bourgeois Vineyard in Columbia, Missouri, and River Ridge Winery in Scott City, before going on to work as brewmaster and partner at Six Row Brewing Co. and PaPPo’s Pizzeria in St. Louis. At Brick River, which celebrates its grand opening this month, Hiatt makes four ciders: Homestead, an unfiltered, cloudy, semi-sweet cider; Cornerstone, a sparkling semi-dry cider; Firehouse Red, a tart cider with Montgomery sour cherry juice; and Brewer’s Choice, dry-hopped with Alsatian hops. Hiatt avoids popular eating apples, as he feels they lack sufficient body and acidity; he uses a blend of six to 10 varieties to add complexity. Next fall, look for cider made from founder Russ John’s own apples, with European cider varieties like Kingston Black, Dabinett and Chisel Jersey.
Brick River Cider Co., 2000 Washington Ave., St. Louis, Missouri, brickrivercider.com