I was born and raised in Asturias, a region of northern Spain that is very similar to where I live now in western Pennsylvania. Apple orchards are a common sight in both of these landscapes. In Asturias, hard cider is one of the most popular and commonly enjoyed alcoholic beverages, but not in Pennsylvania, nor (as far as I know) anywhere in the U.S.
Hard cider is starting to develop a following in this country, but is still viewed by many as an inferior choice to beer. Maybe because of different marketing strategies, I find that many hard ciders in this country have many other ingredients other than just fermented apple juice, which is basically the main ingredient in fine European hard ciders. A good example is Crispin Hard Cider, which offers the suggestion of serving over ice–a bizarre idea bordering on sacrilege for someone raised on Asturian sidra! This beverage contains hard cider, filtered water, apple juice concentrate and natural apple essence. As a sweet apple flavored drink, well, it’s not bad. It’s probably a drink that would be enjoyed by many, but it’s not hard cider, not my kind of hard cider that you would drink as you would a beer. This Crispin cider beverage reminds me of an appletini or dessert drink–something like granny smith sorbet, not hard cider. But who knows–maybe it’s an encouraging sign to see more ciders on the market, even if they don’t necessarily match my idea of what hard cider should be.
Now, a good American hard cider is made in New Hampshire at Farnum Hill. Farnum Hill ciders are–in my modest opinion–great hard ciders. I have much to say about Farnum Hill, but for this entry, I will just say that Farnum Hill Semi-dry cider was my choice for this year’s Thanksgiving dinner, and it was a great pairing to our harvest feast.