Monday, March 24, 2014

Apples on the web: a flight of hard cider

Craft apple cider—hard, with a kick—is experience a renaissance in North America. Modern sensibilities and techniques have engendered what may just be American cider's golden age, its biggest comeback since Prohibition.

This explosion of drinkable fruit has engendered a growing cohort of cider blogs. Indeed there are more blogs about cider than apples. Most are less than two years old.

These bloggers join cider aficionados from Britain and beyond who’ve put a few more pints under their belts.

Join me for a taste of web-based cider news and reviews.

One of my favorite of these blogs, Along Came a Cider, hails from the pomoculturaly significant Finger Lakes region of New York. The emphasis here is on Meredith's evocative and detailed reviews. She's been writing about cider since January of 2013 and describes, as of this posting, perhaps 50 or 60 different ciders.

Meredith works at a local cidery but brings her intelligence and enthusiasm to bear on all comers. She documents each review with photos of the bottle and, usually, the cider in a clear glass.

This blog feels especially agreeable to me because Meredith achieves what I try for in my apple reviews: a clear and honest account of what her senses tell her, leavened with opinion and a personality.

There's no attempt at an index, so use the blog's basic search feature or just dive right in.

In its first year plus, The United States of Cider has digested (as of this writing) perhaps 3 or 4 score different ciders, some in breezy one-sentence reviews. As advertised, these hail from the 50 American states (well, some of them). Photographic documentation is uneven.

There are also book reviews, historical reflections, a cider map, and other amusements. The authors seem quite fond of Gravenstein. Can't argue with that, actually.

Some of these features are a little thin (Gravenstein is currently the only "pomme of the month"), and the site feels somewhat disorganized, but give these folks a few years. It's a nice introduction to U.S. ciders, and the authors are gradually fulfilling an ambitious and admirable design.

One of the oldest (est. 2011) and largest cider blogs, Cider Pages, is written by a British "pilgrim on a journey" who describes and rates hundreds of ciders, mostly not available here in the States.

The pilgrim's reviews are detailed and chatty and fun to read. Pilgrim (who prefers anonymity) will sometimes identify individual apple varieties from the taste of the cider alone.

The ratings consider 9 factors to produce a precise point score from 0 to 100. Pilgrim softens this apparent scientific omniscience by cheerfully admitting his ratings of these factors are subjective.

I have come to view rating systems as a necessary evil when there is a lot of content: Cider Pages catalogs more than 300 varieties.


This time of year cider outpaces apples on the internet. We've only scratched the surface but these three cider blogs give a small taste of the scene.

It's mud season here in New England! Pull up a chair and a glass.

3 comments:

  1. Thanks so much! I really appreciate your kind comments. There are quite a few excellent cider blogs out there. Have you seen Cider with Maria, Old Time Cider, or All About Cider? I can definitely recommend each of these as well. So much good stuff to read and eat and drink out there.

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    1. @Meredith, thank you for your blog, and for these recommendations.

      No, 3 cider blogs are not enough! This is a blog post, though, not a book, so consider this an introduction.

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  2. Thanks for the blog suggestions!

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