When I walked out of Burton into a crisp, clear day and my feet crunched noisily on the leaves littering the walkway, I realized that summer had come and gone. Long gone were the days of drinking lighter, crisper beers to combat the heat.

The fall and winter would herald darker, richer brews and, most importantly, cider. I love cider. It derives from my inherent love of apples.

The town I live in is pleasantly rural and apple picking during the fall is not just a fun weekend activity but almost a ritualistic event.

Clambering through the orchards on a bitingly chilly morning to harvest tart and sweet apples by the bushel is ingrained in my memory.

The feeling of the cold dissipating after quaffing deep from freshly mulled hot cider and cider donuts is a little piece of home for me.

So when I turned 21, the progression from soft cider to hard cider was a natural one for me. And, readers, it is a delicious transition to make. With today’s advances in food and preservation technology, it is possible to get damn good cider any day of the year, and a lot of companies are obliging.

One of my favorite companies of all is the Woodchuck Cider Company, based out of Middlebury, Vt. They make excellent cider that is widely available. Their sampler pack, comprised of Granny Smith, Pear, Dark and Dry and Amber ciders is a must purchase. My personal favorite is the Dark and Dry.

Instead of using white sugar to prime the batch during fermentation, they use dark brown sugar instead. This results in a less sweet, more caramel flavoring in the resulting product. It’s like drinking a caramel apple. It’s great.

The Amber is excellent as well, even though they use white sugar to prime the batch. I’m not such a fan of the pear (it smells kind of funny to me) and the Granny apple isn’t what you’re expecting (it’s more bland than tart, really), but those are just my opinions, so don’t let that stop you from getting a sampler pack.

However, if you’re like me and you crave something a little more exotic, then there are addoptions for you as well.

Enter Doc’s Draft an award-winning cider made locally in Warwick, N.Y. (I actually live not too far from there). They produce a wide range of jaw-dropping excellent ciders. Their standard cider is sweet and crisp with heavy carbonation and has wonderfully strong apple flavor and finishes with a pleasant dryness for such a sweet cider.

They also come in Pear and Framboise (raspberry) that, while I haven’t had them yet, are sure to be stellar as well. There are others though! Harpoon Brewery of Boston, Mass. makes a cider as well. A middle-of-the-road cider in terms of sweetness, they use a champagne yeast to give it a fine bubbled taste. It is slightly dry, slightly sweet and a highly quaffable cider as well.

There is also Original Sin, coming out of New York City, which is a sweet cider with a 1950s pin-up flair that is entertaining.

Finally, from across the pond there is Magners (Irish) and Bulmers (English) ciders that can be found readily and are decent enough ciders.

So, dear readers, in the interest of the coming fall, I suggest you go to the local store and pick up a pack of hard cider.

Nothing screams refreshing as much as a cool, crisp pint of cider and a cider donut at the end of the day.

And, as always, the e-mail is at the bottom of this article. If you have any other cider suggestions, let me know. I love cider, and any opportunity to try new cider makes for a good day in my life.

Spolverino is a member of the class of 2010.
His e-mail address is scott.spolverino@rochester.edu.

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