Cider is not really a beer, but an alcoholic drink that results from the fermentation process of apple juice. Called "hard cider" to distinguish it from its nonalcoholic counterpart, which consists of crushed apples, the absence of malt and hops distinguishes it from beer. However, some producers are starting to make hopped ciders, which are a good gluten-free alternative to beers
. True cider never contains malt.
Most ciders range from 4.5% to 7% alcohol by volume (ABV), but some varieties can have a higher alcohol content at around 10% to 12% ABV. If you need an excuse to indulge in this traditional alcoholic beverage, it's full of healthy polyphenols.
There are four main types of cider: dry, off-dry, semi-sweet (or semi-dry) and farmhouse cider. Dry apple cider has less than 0.5% residual sugar, so it tastes fairly bitter and acidic. It also tends to contain more alcohol than other types.
Off-dry cider contains 1% to 2% residual sugar, while the semi-dry ones contain more than 2% residual sugar. As the name suggests, semi-sweet ciders are the most sugary, with around 4% residual sugar. Lastly, farmhouse ciders undergo a fermenting process that involves wild yeast for a more earthy flavor profile and a higher ABV value.
A crisp cider tastes best if you serve it at around 40 degrees Fahrenheit, in the proper glassware: a cider glass or a pint glass. However, you can also try it in a Bordeaux wine glass, which is large enough to aerate the drink properly. As for food pairings, try chicken, salads and desserts.
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