Just about this time every year, like clockwork, we wake up one day in mid-September and realize: Oh snap, pumpkin cider season is here again! How can that be possible when we’re still wearing tank tops and low-key debating whether to turn the AC back on or not?! Whether you love them or hate them, pumpkin ciders — along with pumpkin-everything else — start popping up left and right, as if to say, “Yes, it IS autumn and yes, you WILL celebrate with something orange and vaguely spicy in hand.”
We know there’s a lot of negativity around pumpkin spice, ranging from bewilderment to its seemingly iron-clad position in food-trends-that-won’t-die, to downright scorn. On the one hand, we get it. Does the world really need pumpkin-spiced cereal, protein bars, almonds, yogurt and peanut butter (all things we have for real seen at the grocery store)? But, on the other hand … pumpkin cider can be really and truly delicious.
Regardless of where you fall on the issue, you’re sure to encounter some pumpkin ciders in your local cidery/bar/bottle shop soon, if you haven’t already. While you may know some of the old favorites (like the pumpkin ciders from ACE and Portland Cider Co.), here are a few more to try out, though if you want to wait ’til the first frost to start channeling fall vibes, we totally get it.
A good pumpkin cider must start with good cider, yes? That’s why we’ve got big hopes for Ash & Elm Cider Co.’s Autumntide, its fall seasonal pumpkin cider, made with real pumpkin and a smooth blend of spices, coming in at 6.5% ABV. Like all of Ash & Elm’s wares, the base cider is made from 100% pure apple juice, sourced from family farms in Indiana and Michigan. Try it in cans, or by the glass in its Indianapolis tasting room, where Autumntide just debuted last Friday, or look for it in bars and liquor stores across the state.
Though this very-limited release came out in mid-August, it appears as if Awestruck Ciders Hometown Homicider is still available for purchase through its Facebook page in 750ml bottles. This creepily-named, barrel-aged cider blends pumpkin flesh and toasted spices and weighs in at 6.8% ABV. Fun fact: All Awestruck Ciders are made with 100% New York apples, are gluten-free (obvi) and, as of 2015, are also completely vegan!
This vibrant, unfiltered pumpkin cider from Downeast Cider is a blend of apples, pumpkin and chai spices. According to its website, this is “fall in a can.” You can pick up a 4-pack or two of this seasonal special from Downeast’s online shop, try it fresh from the tap at its East Boston taproom, or stop by its pop-up beer garden, The Back Porch, on the Greenway in Dewey Square in Boston, for lawn games, live music, food trucks, and a rotating menu of cider, wine and beer.
West Virginia’s Swilled Dog Hard Cider is getting in on the gourd action with its newly-released Pumpkin Patch cider. This fall seasonal is a blend of tart and sweet apples kicked up with fresh pumpkin and chai tea spices. Suggested pairings include: football, bonfires and hayrides. Shop for 750ml bottles on Swilled Dog’s website, or find six-packs at your favorite cider retailer in West Virginia and Virginia.
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A limited-release imperial pumpkin cider (HELLO, 8.4% ABV!) from 2 Towns Cider House, Hollow Jack’d blends fresh-pressed apples, caramelized heirloom pumpkins and sweet potatoes and is finished with local raw honey and spices. They do not skimp on the flavors here: Each barrel contains over 25 pounds of caramelized pumpkin and over 10 pounds of sweet potatoes! This baby just took home a silver medal at GLINTCAP, so you know it’s some serious quality stuff.
(Not exactly pumpkin ciders, but autumnal enough to consider part of the club)
At 6% ABV and semi-dry, this seasonal release from Blue Toad Hard Cider (based in both Rochester, New York and Nelson County, Virginia) offers notes of clove, cinnamon and spices. High praise from fans include that it’s like “autumn in my mouth”and “the holidays in a glass.”
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Apples and pumpkins seem to get all the fall love, but pears are fall-y, too! Nine Pin Cider celebrates the bounty of these autumn beatuties with its seasonal release, Hunny Pear, usually out in early October. This pear cider is fermented from Barlett, Bosc, Potomac and Seckel pears grown at Samascott Orchards and is finished with a dash of cinnamon and a drizzle of honey for an off-dry, complex and refreshing result. To learn more about perry and all its glory, see here.
Okay, let’s here it: Are you a pumpkin cider lover or hater? If you’re on the pro-team, which cidery makes your favorite pumpkin cider?
- Feature photo: Ash & Elm Cider Co.