5 Honey Ciders You Need To Try!
What is Honey Cider?
As we know, ciders can be sweet, dry, or anywhere in between. One way of incorporating sweetness to ciders is by adding honey, rather than artificial sweeteners or added sugars. What does this mean for flavor, you might wonder? Well, the addition of honey to hard ciders not only sweetens the beverage, but also often smooths out the flavors and adds light floral notes that have a very pleasant taste. Additionally, honey can affect the alcohol content of the cider, as it raises the sugar content available for fermentation.
Honey ciders are not to be confused with meads, however. Meads are a sweet honey wine, where honey is the main source of fermentable sugars in the product. In honey ciders, apples would be where the majority of the fermentable sugars are derived.
Honey is added to ciders before the fermentation process begins, in order to ferment some of the sugars from the honey as well. The prominence of the honey flavor is dependent on how long the honey is fermented. If the fermentation process is completed, the cider will be drier and have less of a honey flavor. In order to make a sweeter cider with a stronger honey flavor, the fermentation process would have to be cut short in order to prevent the consumption of all of the honey by the yeast.
Now that you know a little bit about the process, let’s dive into some of the best honey ciders on the market!
Seattle Cider Company – Olympic Honey:
This honey cider from the PNW features local apples and local honey and is an awesome collaboration with the Fairmont Olympic Hotel, using honey produced from their rooftop apiary! It is a semi-sweet cider that is well balanced in sweetness and tartness. It is a very clean and smooth drink, with noticeable honey flavors. It is pale yellow in color, slightly hazy, and lightly to moderately carbonated. It is a very enjoyable cider that you will want to savor every sip of! Olympic Honey has an ABV of 6.9%. It is a limited release, so get it while it lasts.
This cider is made extra special by the ten hives of greater than half a million bees who produced this cider by carrying pollen miles per day throughout the Puget Sound. This partnership between Seattle Cider Co and the Freemont Olympic Hotel was started in an effort to increase pollination in Seattle. This fact, combined with the amazing flavor puts this cider at the top of our list! Check out more on their collaboration here: https://www.foxsseattle.com/blogs/news/the-fairmont-olympic-hotel
Ace Cider – Apple Honey:
Ace’s Apple Honey Cider, made with local Sonoma wildflower honey, hovers on the line between cider and mead. It is probably the most prominently honey-flavored honey cider we came across in the tasting for this article. The complexity from the fermented apple juice with the wildflower honey gives it a deeper golden color than many other ciders. It starts off very sweet, but finishes slightly drier on the palate. This is definitely the sweetest of the honey ciders as well. It is not very carbonated at all, and only 5% ABV, making it very easily drinkable.
If you’re still a little weary on ciders but are a fan of meads, this is definitely the cider to choose! Be prepared for an intense, sweet, honey-filled flavor experience with this beverage!
Nine Pin – Hunny Pear:
Nine Pine cidery located in Albany, NY uses only New York apples, or…in this case…pears! That’s right, this cider isn’t a cider, but rather a perry.That didn’t stop us from adding it to our list of top five honey ciders, though! Hunny Pear definitely smells of honey and cinnamon, more so from the can than after the pour, however. It is a fairly highly carbonated, crisp golden yellow perry with a prickly or almost fuzzy mouthfeel. It is tart at first with a sweeter aftertaste, with the change allowing all of the flavors to really shine. An experienced cider drinker will notice the pear taste as opposed to the traditional apple flavor. Due to the incorporation of the honey and the use of the pears, this cider has almost an oak-aged flavor profile to it.
Nine Pin’s Hunny Pear is made with Barlett, Bosc, Potomac, and Seckel pears grown at Samascott Orchards and finished with a touch of cinnamon and honey. Its ABV is the lowest on this list at 4.7%, but still a solid choice.
Citizen Cider – B-Cider:
Citizen Cider’s B-Cider lets you drink the full circle of life at Northern Orchard; “from blossom, to bee, to the pollinated tree.” It is a lighter bodied honey cider that smells like a dry, crisp wine, such as a Sauvignon Blanc or a Pinot Grigio. It is well carbonated, nearly clear cider on the pour. It is very dry, especially at the beginning of the sip, but with a noticeable honey flavor and accompanying sweetness on the back of the tongue. The combination of sweet honey with the tart apples makes this one of Citizen’s best ciders. It is less tannic than most of their brews, but definitely the most champagne-y of the honey ciders featured here.
Definitely a quality honey cider, especially for the wine-lover. B-Cider is offered in a 750 mL bottle at 6.9% ABV which makes it perfect for sharing with some brie or savory pastries.
Austin Eastciders – Texas Honey:
When you think of cider, you probably don’t think of Texas, and vice versa, but in the heart of Austin, Texas you’ll find Austin Eastciders and their Texas Honey Cider, the last on this list. This cider smells sweet from the start, it has nearly no carbonation and is a dark golden yellow-ish brown. Made with a blend of tart and dessert apples and a touch of Texas honey, it is on the sweet side. The flavor is more strongly of honey than apples, in my opinion, and seems almost “watered down,” for lack of a better term. Texas Honey is 5% ABV as well, keeping it on the lower side.
A sweet, apple juice-esque beverage to ease your way into the cider world, and to give you a unique taste of Texas!