5 of My Favorite 10 Ciders of 2021

Somehow we’re racing toward the end of 2021. It doesn’t feel possible, but I’m ready to start choosing my favorite ciders of the year. Why start early? This list was hard to make. I could not fathom taking one more fantastic cider out of my cellar and forcing it to compete in this field. Cider makers made my job really difficult this time around!

Usually I create a favorite 10 ciders of the year countdown for my last blog post of the year. I want to modify my tradition ever so slightly this year and divide the list into two posts. This year I’m sharing five from my top ten list today, and continuing the countdown next week.

My rules are simple. All ciders reviewed in the past year are eligible. No cidery gets to show up more than once. These are my favorites. I acknowledge my subjective, individual, and perhaps even whimsical tastes.

Here are all of my previous years’ top 10s! Please go back and find your favorites!








First ever cider countdown from 2013:

10. Union Hill Cider’s Pink Heart

This is a beautiful example of a well-balanced, easy-drinking, delicious rose cider. I love its fruitiness, acidity, and sparkle. This cidery based out of East Wenatchee, Washington made something solidly delightful. One of the really interesting characteristics about the Pink Heart is that this cider uses mostly red fleshed apples but doesn’t limit itself to them; it incorporates Dabinett apples as well. I think that is a wise choice because this is a stunner.

9. Tilted Shed Ciderwork’s Wickson

This is not a surprising choice for me. I love Wickson crabapples, and Tilted Shed did a brilliant job crafting an intense little burst of flavor into a thoroughly delectable cider. It has everything: tannins, acid, sparkle, and zest. Tilted Shed, out of California, has to be one of my favorite west coast sideries; They know how to appreciate a wild and funky cider without letting that party rage too hard.

8. Slyboro’s Rose and Sky

The Rose and Sky calls itself because it’s ABV imperial reaches 10%, something I don’t see regularly in the cider world. The cider wears it’s higher alcohol content well; the cider is creamy and full bodied. I enjoy the Rose and Sky’s intense tiny bubbles. This off-dry cider is tremendously fruity but also delivers some lovely brioche crumb notes as well. I highly recommend trying anything by New York producer Slyboro Ciderhouse, but the Rose and Sky is a fantastic choice.

7. Eve’s Cidery Orchards and Pastures

Eve’s Cidery appears on my favorites list regularly; I cannot argue with that. The reason is that this Finger Lakes Cidery knows how to make delectable dry bubbly ciders! Orchards and Pastures is a special aged cuvee blend with a wild yeast fermentation. I love how gently funky yet perfumed it smells. Orchards and Pastures manages to show off barrel fermentation, wild foraged apples, perry pears and lees aging. All of this complexity adds up to a truly splendid cider.

6. Liberty Ciderworks Major Hewes

This cider combines two crabapples (Hewe’s and Manchurian) with the Major: a classic UK cider apple. This feels almost like stacking the deck, but then Spokane Washington’s Liberty Ciderworks uses neutral oak for aging and wild fermentation to boot. It smells leathery with notes of orange and overripe apple. I love how it really brought a serious amount of both tannins and acidity. This is a tasty cider and one that you cannot drink without being transfixed by its herbal notes and UK cider-inspired profile. It is a delight that I’m so grateful Liberty Ciderworks created.

That’s all for now, cider friends. Catch up with the rest of the top ten next week, and until then, stay safe and bust out the good stuff!


My Favorite 5 Ciders of 2021

It’s almost here. We are lucky enough to have the chance to make 2022 a wonderful magical year. As we dream of what we’d like to do, change, and create in the future, it only makes sense to gather the best parts of 2021 (strange year though it was) and reflect on them. Part of that for me means continuing my tradition of counting down my favorite ciders of the year. It wasn’t easy to choose, but I’m so happy to share my top five!

But if you’ve not read about my favorites 6-10, check those out first:

5. Snow Capped Cider Harrison Reserve

I’m not surprised that a GLINTCAP best in class gold medal winner will also be a favorite of mine. The Harrison Reserve won’t Heritage Cider sweet, and while sweet isn’t a quality I look out for in cider, I’m not going to turn away a delicious and well-balanced cider because of a bit of sweetness. The Harrison has acidity, body, and wonderful fruit notes like overripe apples, peaches, and cherries.

4. Eden Cider Oliver’s Twist

Eden makes undeniably good ciders year after year. I chose this tannic and acidic cider to go with Thanksgiving foods, and it was absolutely perfect to lift up rich intense flavors. Oliver’s Twist is very lemony, mildly funky but not dirty, and wonderfully wild. This Vermont cider has everything from savory herbs to a surprising tropical fruit finish. And the bubbles are perfect!

3. Haykin Family Cider’s Reserve Niedzwetzkyana

Colorado’s Haykin Family Cider makes some wonderful ciders, so I had high hopes for the Reserve Niedzwetzkyana, but I didn’t have a lot of specificity to those expectations. A 100% single-varietal cider can go in nearly infinite directions, and I’m not familiar enough with Malus Niedzwetzkyana to hazard any guesses. The cider is a blast of floral flavors with tart cherry notes and high acidity. My initial review called it “everything forward,” and I love its dryness. This very special cider made a big impression!

2. Presque Isle Cider’s Farmhouse Hard Cider 2020

This bottle was a gift from someone at Presque Isle farms promised before results were announced but shared after we learned that it won second place for Dry Traditional Cider. That’s a competitive category as well as one most likely to award ciders I’ll love. And GLINTCAP predicted my preferences again; I love Presque Isle’s Farmhouse Cider from northern Michigan. The aromas of this cider are beguiling with notes of leather, overripe apples, and dried orange. It’s beautifully balanced, dry, and full-bodied. Seriously good stuff.

1. Black Diamond Farm and Redbyrd Orchard Cider’s Black is Gold

Black Diamond Cider:

Redbyrd Orchard Cider:

When two excellent Finger Lakes cider makers like Redbyrd Orchard Cider and Black Diamond Farm work together, I suspect the results will be stunning and with Black is Gold, they are. Here’s the apple list: Goldrush, Tremlett’s Bitter, Wickson Crab, Harrison, Dabinett, Roxbury Russet, Black Oxford, Suncrisp, Razor Russet. This collaboration absolutely delights me with tart clean citrus, ferocious bubbles, sturdy tannins, and plentiful fruit notes that keep the experience fun and lively.

I appreciate that this collaboration came to be for a reason. Here’s how they describe it, “What can we, as beverage makers and farmers, do to support the vital work of abolishing barriers to racial and social equity and justice in our community?” The cider’s proceeds support OAR of Tompkins County and The Food Justice Project. Awesome.

What a list! These are each exceptional ciders that I’m grateful to have tasted. My year was much tastier and more fun because of the cider and cider experiences I was lucky enough to have. Endless thanks to my cider friends, orchard growers, competition volunteers, cider makers, and every apple lover out there. Let’s hope for more fun and safe times together in 2022!