With an abundance of cider mills and apple orchards dotting the state, Michigan produces a fall tradition—fresh apples. In addition to fresh apples pressed into cider, many of Michigan’s mills have joined the hard apple cider craze, producing boozy versions of the popular fall drink. Sweet, tangy, and even spicy, hard ciders bring a new flare to the season. While there are plenty of ciders from across the Mitten, I sampled six hard ciders made in Michigan to get your list of must-tries started:
Spring Lake Hard Cider
Chapman’s Oaked, Vander Mill
According to Vander Mill’s, this cider is “aged in American white oak to give it slight hints of wood, vanilla, and tannin.”
Oaked means it has a sharp scent, and its flavor is that of a mildly sweet cider. With undertones that could almost be described as sour, the cider is unique in that it is not tart or tangy. It is semi-dry and has a lingering taste that closely resembles apple juice.
Bellaire Hard Ciders
Immortal Jelly, Starcut Ciders
This rosy red cider combines strawberry, raspberry, blueberry, and blackberry for a sweet, semi-dry cider with a tangy kick. It smells like raspberry jam and resembles a sweet red wine in taste. The berries are prominent in this cider, overpowering any apple taste that may be present. While the fruit flavors are dominant, the fruity taste isn’t too sugary and the sweetness isn’t too overbearing; the tartness of the berries helps to keep this cider from being too sweet.
Octorock, Starcut Ciders
Also from Starcut, this semi-sweet cider tastes just like a glass of apple cider straight from the mill: sweet, smooth, and refreshing.
The sweetness of it doesn’t have an artificial taste to it, and the apple flavor is strong and generous. The cider is smooth, with the evidence of alcohol hardly obvious in comparison to some other hard ciders.
Grand Rapids Hard Cider
Peary, Sierra Rose
Creating ciders with a twist, Sierra Rose Ciders are something a little different. This cider smells strongly of pears, while the taste of pear is more subtle. Pears are definitely present, although they are mild and blended with the obvious apple flavor. Peary is sweet, but isn’t sweet enough to seem sugary or alter the flavor negatively. This cider, especially the sweetness, linger long after taking a drink.
Armada Hard Ciders
Flannel Mouth, Blake’s Hard Cider
Made from apples grown at Blake’s Orchard and Cider Mill, cans of Blake’s are harvested, brewed and canned by the company. According to Blake’s, late season and dessert table apples are used for this particular cider. It is sweet and smooth with mild carbonation. Not excessively sugary, it goes down easily and has slight tang to it. Think of Flannel Mouth as a sweet apple champagne.
El Chavo, Blake’s Hard Cider
Also from Blake’s, El Chavo is the spiced up version of Flannel Mouth. The cider is described as being infused with mango and habanero, though the mango flavor isn’t particularly evident, especially when compared to the flavor of Flannel Mouth; both ciders have very similar initial tastes.
El Chavo’s claim to fame is its heat, taking a sweet classic and adding a new level of flavor. When taking a drink of the cider, this isn’t noticeable until it reaches your throat. The heat of the habanero complements the sweet apples, providing a perfect balance and a different take on cider.
What are some of your favorite Michigan hard apple ciders to indulge in during the fall? Let us know!