Craft ciders are refreshing and civilized and have gained popularity in the craft beer world. Craft ciders are not beer and are deceptively simple in their production. There’s no “brewing” involved at all and ciders are produced by fermenting the juice of freshly picked apples. Most craft ciders are not the sticky-sweet ones that you may be accustomed to but are much more complex. Often apples are used as the base for a cider and the cidermaker will add other fruit to give different layers of flavor. These hand-crafted quality ciders are produced in many different parts of the United States and many other countries. Craft ciders can be produced with many varieties of apples and often these apples are not “eating” apples but tart ones with tannins and some acidity. Sometimes the apple varieties are blended to give more complexity and different flavor profiles. Craft ciders will also vary by the region of the country that they are produced in and that area’s specific history. Ciders produced in New England will sometimes contain molasses, honey, or maple syrup as this would make them more robust to help people through the cold winters. Cidermakers usually will harvest apples grown locally near their production facility which will change the varieties of apples used in different parts of the country. Craft cider makers are getting more creative all the time and are trying new ways to make their ciders unique just as brewers do with their beers. Some craft ciders are being aged in wooden barrels for extended periods of time. This can give some oaky character along with some vanilla notes which adds many layers of complexity. There are some producers that are even adding hops to their ciders! Quite a few of these new and upcoming ciders can be found where craft beer is carried and are really worth a try! Cheers! Rob McFerren is the owner of Wolf Creek Restaurant & Brewing Co.