With the arrival of fall, certain flavors tend to get popular. Pumpkin spice, for example, can be found in just about anything you’d like to drink or eat. You can even find pumpkin spice scented lotions. Another seasonal flavor that’s taken a backseat to pumpkin in recent years is apple cider.
There are plenty of ways to enjoy apple cider. Traditional fall recipes usually include heating apple cider in the store and infusing it will mulling spices, which are allspice, whole cloves, cinnamon sticks, orange zest or peel, fresh ginger and sometimes cardamom. Sipping a hot apple cider can make it really feel like fall.
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For many adults, however, the best way to enjoy apple cider is after it’s been fermented. Hard ciders, the fruity cousins of real beer, are increasingly popular with foodies and local brew makers alike. It’s easy to see why hard ciders have taken the craft beverage world by storm. Cider is much less limited than beer or wine when it comes to creative options in brewing.
They offer a limitless ability to fine-tune flavors. Some places only use apples, while other brewers may include pears, berries or pumpkins in their cider recipe. Different blends of apple juices can increase flavor profiles. Many cider makers mix sweet juices with tart juices. Some even use crabapples in cider making.
We’ve taken the guesswork out of tracking down a great local cider on tap. Visit any of these four establishments to enjoy a fresh, hard cider. You can thank us later.
Not your Regular Apple Cider
FruitCraft Fermentary and Distillery
Location: 1477 University Ave.
Hours: Wednesday: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Thursday: 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday: 3 p.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday: Noon to 11 p.m., Sunday: 1 p.m. to 7 p.m., Closed Monday and Tuesday
This is the only entry on this list that won’t have traditional apple cider on their menu, but they’re definitely worth a visit. Although they’ve only been open for a few months, the new FruitCraft Fermentary and Distillery in Hillcrest is already building a major local following. The impressive range of creative fruit flavors will have you begging for more.
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There’s good reason for the enthusiasm. Unlike some bars and taprooms, FruitCraft prides itself on creating unique, fruit-based spirits. Instead of brewing up grape and grain-based drinks, this place is crafting creative and tasty cocktails based on just about any other fruit out there! They’ve also got a food menu, which includes flatbreads.
You can try a bubbly, fermented drink with 11 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) that is made from pineapple, pomegranate, cranberry, pumpkin (with that pumpkin spice flavor added), pomegranate and cherry, or pineapple and mango. If you’re looking for something a little stronger, they also distill fermented fruit juices to make spirits. These creative alcohols are amazing sipped on their own or blended into a cocktail. Options at 40 percent ABV or 80 proof include pineapple, pomegranate and cranberry.
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Cider from Julian
Location: 17552 Harrison Park Road in Julian
Hours: Thursday and Friday: 2:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday and Sunday: Noon to 6 p.m., Closed Monday-Wednesday
If you want to enjoy real cider flavor at Julian CiderWorks, you’ll need to take a trip out of town to Julian. Plenty of local taprooms offer their much-loved cider on tap as well. In fact, many local craft beer establishments serve up Julian CiderWorks because it sets the standard for local cider excellence.
One of the most exciting things about Julian CiderWorks is that they make their hard ciders with locally sourced apples. Every single piece of fruit that gets juiced is from Julian. They raise a range of apples to blend for optimal flavor. The brewers also insist that the terroir of the region has a profound impact on the flavor of their cider. The area receives a lot of intense sun, resulting in incredible production of flavorful apples and pears.
When you visit the Julian CiderWorks Tasting Room, you can enjoy both apple ciders and perry’s (ciders made from local pears). Current offerings on tap range from 4.2 percent ABV all the way up to 11 percent ABV. You have the choice of ordering ciders that are single variety or blended. Single variety ciders come from just one kind of apple, while blends incorporate a mix of juices for a more balanced flavor.
It’s Cyder not Cider
Location: 10045 Carroll Canyon Rd., Ste. A
Hours: Monday-Wednesday: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
When it comes to local craft beverages, Newtopia Cyder stands out from the crowd! They have taken the time to develop four popular ciders, which they call cyders. Each of them has a unique flavor profile, resulting from botanical ingredients.
Their India Pale Cyder, which has 6.9 percent ABV, is a dry cider with a strong apple flavor and a hint of hops. The Belgian Pineapple, as the name suggests, is made like a Belgian Saison from elderberries, cardamom and pineapple, resulting in a very drinkable beverage with 6.7 percent ABV. Their Semi-Sweet Cyder, with 6.6 percent ABV, is classified as off-dry. It’s made from West Coast apples and gives off hints of both hibiscus and eucalyptus. Finally, their Wyld Cyder has between 6.8 percent and 6.9 percent ABV. Made from marionberries, this cider has a funky, earthy flavor that is both sweet and sour.
Of course, those are only the year-round offerings available in cans. If you visit their tasting room, you can have a sip of nine different ciders on tap. These include a Double India Pale Cider made from bittersweet apples, an Indonesian Sumatra Cyder with spices, including cloves, with a bourbon and caramel flavor, or the Strawberry Vanilla, with a ripe strawberry and vanilla bean flavor. Their Chai Me a River, which has apple cinnamon flavors, is also locally loved.
Hard Cider Flights
Location: 8665 Miralani Drive, Suite 100
Hours: Tuesday-Thursday: 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday: 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday: Noon to 10 p.m., Sunday: Noon to 8 p.m., Closed Monday
Serpentine Cider recently opened a tasting room, and they did so in time for the fall cider season! One thing that sets this tasting room apart is that you can order flights with a range of ciders. They source their apples from the Northwest. From there, they season the juice with herbs, spices, other juices, fruit purees and fresh fruit. There are no artificial flavors or ingredients in any of their ciders.
Their tap list will change over time, but current offerings promise a range of flavors for the die-hard San Diego cider fans out there! Currently, you can order up apple cider that is hopped, mixed with ginger and peach, or flavored with raspberries and blackberries, guava, passionfruit or lemongrass. They also have an apple pie cider (yum!), as well as a slightly sweet cider and a dry apple cider.
As if that isn’t enough reason to visit, they share the tasting room with a local craft meadery, called Lost Cause. There’s also a full kitchen run by The Good Seed Food Company. The dishes are seasonal and feature locally sourced and organic ingredients. If you find a cider you absolutely love, they’ll even fill your growler for you!
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