In our endless journey trying ciders across the landscape of the US we have run into many cideries putting out all-natural products. North Country Hard Cider from New Hampshire takes this to heart as their brand ethos. They focus on ciders that are neither traditionally dry or sugar bombs. They ride the outskirts with more complex-flavored ciders that keep structure and acidity at mind without the preservatives or additives. We found this particularly true as they do not even attempt to mask the apple flavor behind a curtain of other flavorings but highlight the apple they are utilizing. The ciders we were able to sample and break down were their Hopshire, Crabby Bastard, Honey Badger, and Wild Blue.
ABV: 5.5 abv
Flavor: Hopped cider
What You See: This cider pours almost like a lightly hazy beer with light carbonation.
What you Smell: On the nose you get sweet apple skin, light floral notes and a touch of honey.
What You Taste: The cider starts off smooth with a bit of sweetness and a light apple flavor. The finish feels sweet with hop presence but not overwhelming on the mouth. There are notes of a tropical IPA after a few sips that brings a sense of familiarity to beer drinkers. Overall, the flavor is not too intense, smooth, a bit tannic, and somewhat complex.
We have a video where we pair Hopshire with food: Watch Here
ABV: 6% abv
Flavor: Crab Apple
What You See: Hazy with a golden amber color with light carbonation, there is a medium body to the cider as well
What you Smell: There is a bit of light sweet honey, apple skin and green candy apple
What You Taste: This cider is quite acidic up from with some tannic body at the finish. The acid structure makes its pleasant with a light sweetness to round it out. Tart and assertive for an apple blend and it lends itself well to be a mixer in a cider cocktail. We find this to have the best acidic backbone of the ciders we tasted.
ABV: 4.75 % abv
Flavor: Honeycrisp (Single Varietal)
What You See: Like most of the ciders on the list there is a slight haze in the cider with a golden hue.
What you Smell: Sweet sugar on the nose, a bit of floral apple juice.
What You Taste: This cider is very much what you would expect from a honey crisp single varietal cider. The flavor of the apple is present with some natural sweetness that is not overly complex. There is a well-rounded mouthfeel that still feels light enough without an overpenetration of sweetness. The acidity in the cider is light as well; thus, you are getting the essence of the apple and its true colors. Without the sugars to support the cider it would lose some of is character, so keeping the 8g of sugar from the juice was a great choice and gave this cider its bounty of flavor.
ABV: 5% abv
Flavor: Blueberry & Ginger
What You See: This is the most uniquely colored cider out of the bunch. It pours a deep blue/purple color with a very light amount of bubbles running up the cider.
What you Smell: Fresh picked blueberry on the nose that is hit with a sharp ginger note to finish
What You Taste: Tart, sweet, and almost candy-like berry flavor comes through. This breaks down into a slightly tart apple/ginger flavor. The juxtaposition between the ginger and the berry is what makes this particular cider work. While the ginger is there and hits your palate to wake it up, it is still not overwhelming. This would be a great cider to mix in cocktails or to make a bbq sauce with. A bit of sweetness from the berry and a bit of refreshing, opening notes from the ginger — not bad at all!