Co-workers are asking about my Thanksgiving plans and my girlfriend wants to go apple picking, so you know what that means: Fall is here!
Along with watching horror movies and ordering complex lattes, October and November are the perfect months to crack into a crispy hard cider. But when you’re staring at the abyss of cider options inside your local liquor store’s fridge, how do you know which to choose?
At Saucey HQ, we wanted to answer that question for our users in West Hollywood. We ordered all four cider selections available from the Golden Rule Liquor menu and put them to the blind taste test.
Below, the ciders are ranked in order from least to most favorite based on how our 13 samplers scored them.
4. Crispin Honey Crisp Artisanal Reserve Hard Cider
We couldn’t get our hands on Crispin’s Original Cider, so instead, we gave their Honey Crisp version a chance to compete. Looks like this specialty flavor was at a disadvantage.
Rather than the crisp and dry qualities we expect from ciders, this one was milkier and more similar to apple juice. With its dimmer color and muted flavors, this one was soon branded as the ugly duckling.
Crispin’s Honey Crisp cider is ultimately subtle. After getting a chance to drink it post-test, I felt the flavors were more refined than dull with a very natural honey-apple finish. It’s great when you’re expecting it.
But if you’re looking for that classic cider taste with a refreshing punch of sweetness, this one isn’t it.
3. Golden State Mighty Dry Cider
Golden State’s ranking surprised the office. A few participants mentioned the Mighty Dry Cider as a personal favorite prior to the tasting, only to place it towards the bottom of their lists.
I wasn’t surprised—I knew I worked with a bunch of hipster liars.
Golden State is bold and feels more like a beer than cider. It’s a really refreshing take—one that explodes with crispness and bubbles. But its taste is a sort of fleeting apple-pear blend that’s hard to quantify.
This cider feels like something a lumberjack drinks after a long day of chopping down trees. It’s in the ballpark of what we assume a cider to be, but it’s a little too gruff and not cozy enough.
Golden State’s beverage will always do the trick on a hot day—it just doesn’t necessarily scream fall.
2. Angry Orchard Crisp Apple
Maybe we should be ashamed of how well we scored Angry Orchard’s Crisp Apple cider, but there’s just something so instantly familiar about it. The flavor has a pleasant sour bite that keeps you wanting more.
With the blindfold off, this flavor profile is more reminiscent of those caramel green apple lollipops than actual fruit. If Crispin is apple juice and Golden State is beer, Angry Orchard is the soda of the group. But that doesn’t make it bad.
Angry Orchard is a giant in the hard cider game, and there’s a simple reason why: Their drink tastes good.
1. Stella Artois Cidre
Of all the competitors, Ms. Stella Artois’s installment felt the most like cider—or cidre as she’ll constantly remind you.
But don’t let her fool you; this drink is anything but pretentious.
Rather than hunt for crispness or overload on sour flavor, this cidre flows with a sweet and dry taste. A light, natural apple aroma makes this one even cozier for when it’s 65 degrees out and the breeze is just so.
Stella has a winner of a cider on her hands.