Imbibed as far back as Roman times, hard cider— the fizzy fermented beverage pressed from apples and naturally gluten-free—is experiencing a sparkling resurgence. U.S. sales doubled in 2013, according to IRL market research, and continue to grow. Here’s a toast to what’s old being delightfully new again, especially in Silicon Valley.
Redwood Coast Cider
With apples from Placerville’s Apple Hill, Gabe Lucas and Jesse Ferraris have made 20 different ciders in the past three years, all with motorcycle-themed names, such as Kosmic Lighthouse Ride. It’s a nod not only to Ferraris being an avid rider, but to an important fact they want to underscore: Real men do drink cider. “We were trying to come up with a way to toughen up the image of ciders,” Lucas says. Enjoy their draft-only ciders at their San Carlos tap room and at Belmont’s Waterdog Tavern.
Rider Ranch Ciderworks
Eric and Katie Rider model their cider after another type of bubbly. “Ours are almost completely dry. We age them nine to 12 months,” says Katie, who has been making cider since 2012. “They turn out a lot like Champagne.” They’re even sold in wine- and Champagne-type bottles at the Saturday farmers market in Scotts Valley. The cider is produced on the couple’s Los Gatos farmstead, home to an abandoned apple orchard they just replanted. Until those trees bear fruit, they buy Newtown Pippins from 100-year-old orchards in Corralitos.
South City Ciderworks
After beer started making her ill, Jenn Root Martell turned to cider. It captured her fancy so much that she; her husband, Alex; and friend Greg Ruth started their own company in 2015. Their Original Blend, a semisweet cider, comes in cans. “You can take it everywhere,” Jenn says. South City Ciderworks is available at Draeger’s, Mollie Stone’s, Lunardi’s and Zanotto’s, as well as Taplands in Santa Clara and The Office in San Carlos. Three percent of sales go to community nonprofits.
Wildcide Hard Cider
Two-year-old Wildcide is already the fourth best-selling cider in Northern California, according to producer Dan Gordon of Gordon-Biersch beer fame. Golden Delicious, Red Delicious, Fuji and Granny Smith apples are pressed in Oregon before the juice is transported the next day to Gordon’s San Jose brewing company, where he adds his own yeast strain. “Non-cider drinkers like ours because it’s dry, crisp and really aromatic,” Gordon says. This summer, he debuted WildMule—the cider mixed with lime juice, cane sugar and Peruvian ginger—for his take on a Moscow Mule. Find it at Safeway and BevMo!, as well as Gordon’s eponymous restaurant in Palo Alto.
Originally published in the September/October issue of Silicon Valley