If there are two flavors that define the autumn season, they have to be pumpkin pie and apple cider. Thankfully, these flavors are often available on tap, as pumpkin spice is a common coffee drink flavoring, as well as a popular beer flavor in the fall.
However, if pumpkin spice isn’t really your thing, fresh apple cider might be the way to go. There is something very enjoyable about a hot apple cider on a cool fall day, but nothing beats the refreshing tingle of an alcoholic cider.
San Diego may be known for its craft beers, but we also have some really impressive cider makers in this city. Cider making requires a developed palate, as each year’s apples are different. Cider makers must taste the apples and create either single apple ciders or a delicate blend of multiple kinds of apples.
The idea is to balance acidity and tartness with sweetness and sugar. The perfect apple cider has a combination of both tart flavor and sweet finish. You don’t want the cloying sweetness you often find in hot apple cider in a hard cider, or it won’t be drinkable. You can turn to any of the four cider companies on this list for an enjoyable and well-balanced hard cider this fall or anytime throughout the year.
Location: 3986 30th Street (map)
Hours: Tuesday from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 2 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from noon to midnight, Sunday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Closed Monday
Nestled in North Park, Bivouac Ciderworks makes impeccable ciders, often from locally sourced apples. Each cider is created by their master cider maker, Matthew Austin. He partnered with Lara Worm to create this unique space, which is both a cider tap room, restaurant and an educational venue.
Their ciders come both on tap and in 22 ounce bottles, meaning you can enjoy some in their tap room and take some extras back home. You can find their ciders on sale at stores in the area as well. What ciders they have on tap will depend on the season, but you’re sure to find something that suits your tastes on tap here.
You can pair that excellent hard cider with a meal from their kitchen, which offers incredible dishes that feature modern trends and timeless classics. They serve a green goddess hummus, made from traditional chickpeas with fresh herbs and a smoked chili oil, as well as classic burgers. You can also find cider on their menu, in dishes like their cider steamed mussels, apple glazed chicken wings or cider braised carnitas tacos. They also make tuna poke, which recently won first place at the I Love Poke Festival.
Location: 6496 Marindustry Drive, Suite D (map)
Hours: Thursday and Friday from 4:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Saturday from noon to 9 p.m., Sunday from noon to 5 p.m., Closed Monday through Wednesday
As the newest cider works on this list, Gutherie CiderWorks is still establishing itself as a destination for hard cider. However, in the two months they’ve been open, they’ve already made quite a name for themselves.
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Cheers to Friday! Stop into our tasting room, grab a flight, full pour (or half pour) or bottles to go for your Labor Day weekend adventures! #guthrieciderworks #fridayfeels #drycider #cherryzinga #supportlocal #craftcider #ciderready??? #becauseciderdoesnotneedtobesweet #sandiego #cheers #youstaythirstysandiego #westcoastersd #sdbevtimes #sdreader
Their focus here is on dry cider, and they serve it fresh from the tap in an engaging social setting. Their tasting room is an elegant space that is both industrial and modern in feel. They currently do not have a food menu, but they do have five different ciders you can enjoy.
Their Truly Dry is probably their flagship cider, which boasts both apple and oak flavors. It’s a perfect sipping cider to enjoy with a meal, and they also recommend that you mix it into cocktails. It has a somewhat strong 7.7 percent alcohol by volume (ABV), and they do offer it for retail sale in 22 ounce bottles.
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Need cider for the holiday? We sell bottles of all varieties of Guthrie cider in our tasting room. Tasting room open Saturday until 9 pm, Sunday 12-5 pm. #guthriecider #guthrieciderworks #guthriesd #becauseciderdoesnotneedtobesweet #glutenfree #tastingroom #artisinal #craftcider #cider #drycider #drinklocal #drinkcraft #familybusiness #hardcider #localbusiness #lajolla #laborday #miramarsd #madeinsandiego #miramesa #nothingartificial #sdcider
Their Maloose is a semi-dry cider with citrus notes that is slightly sweet and lightly carbonated. Their Cherry Zinga has been infused with both cherry and cardamom for a smoky flavor, while their Fruit Gold is made with mango, orange, pineapple and marigold, all blended into a low carbonation dry cider. Finally, their Rubus Citrus is meant to serve as a cider version of sangria, with a combination of raspberry and orange flavors.
Location: 10045 Carroll Canyon Road, Suite A
Hours: Monday-Wednesday from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m., Thursday and Friday from noon to 10 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Newtopia Cyder is arguably the best-established cider house in San Diego. You can get several of their different ciders in cans for retail purchase both at their tasting rooms and at other local retail outlets. Their canned offerings include their Belgian Pineapple, India Pale, Wyld Cyder and Semi-Sweet ciders.
Their tasting room in Scripps Ranch is incredibly popular, and they also have a facility in San Marcos. The location in Scripps Ranch has a rustic but modern feel, with wire light fixtures and a wooden bar. It is definitely a fun and inviting atmosphere in which to enjoy a fresh cider on tap with friends or even a date. They don’t serve food, but food trucks often stop by. You can also bring your kids or your dogs along with you.
You can find nine different ciders on tap here, including their Wild Cider, the spicy Indonesian Sumatra Cider, and their popular My Darling Clementine, which boasts an array of citrus flavors. They also have some unique ciders inspired by beer brewing, such as their India Pale, which features hops, and their Double IPC, which is a semi-sweet, off-dry cider with plenty of hops flavor. They also make Chai Me a River, which has a hint of cinnamon, as well as chamomile and chrysanthemum.
Lost Cause Meadery
Location: 8665 Miralani Drive, Suite 100 (map)
Hours: Closed Monday and Tuesday, Open Wednesday and Thursday from noon to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from noon to 10 p.m., Sunday from noon to 6 p.m.
While not technically a cider maker, Lost Cause Meadery definitely belongs on this list. For those who aren’t familiar with mead, it is an alcoholic drink made from fermented honey. It often includes different fruits or spices to give it unique and powerful flavors. Some meads are incredibly strong, with as much as 20 percent ABV, although Lost Cause Meadery isn’t currently making any that extreme. They have a sweet, earthy flavor that goes well with cider.
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Meaducation, lesson #2: “Traditional” meads, made from only ?, ? & yeast, are ironically a relatively new concept in the long history of mead. However they are the pride of a mead maker. Refined, nuanced, and a pure expression of terroir and all the delicate aroma and flavor components of the honey varietal(s) that were used. Really great ones are often the most difficult meads to make. They are honest and leave nowhere to hide. We’re pretty proud of the one we have on tap now (made from western buckwheat blossom from Alpine), a great expression of eastern San Diego County high desert terroir.
Lost Cause Meadery makes truly unique meads. In fact, they engage in research about yeast strains and unique flavors all the time. A bottle of their fresh, locally made meads cost anywhere from $17 to $22 per bottle, and they will ship them if you have a mead lover in need of a good gift. Of course, you probably want to try a few before you commit, which is why they have a tasting room. This is a perfect place to stop into when you’re craving something unique and want a fresh meal to go with it.
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Barrel tasting time is the best time. Billy checking in on our Cyser (mead/cider) collab w/ @serpentine_cider made with buckwheat honey, apple juice, dates, vanilla, aging in @cutwaterspirits bourbon barrels. . . #barrelaged #mead #cider #craft #glutenfree #miralanimakersdistrict #staylost
They allow you to bring your children and your dogs, and you can enjoy food from their neighbor, The Good Seed Food Co. They share rental space with Serpentine Cider, so you can certainly enjoy a cider nearby as well.