Photo by Caitlin Abrams
Cider tasting party
Ciders truly are having their moment in Minnesota’s autumnal sun.
“We’re a big market for cider overall,” says Melissa Surdyk, fourth-generation Surdyk of Surdyk’s Liquor and Cheese Shop. “Minnesota is used as a test market for many cider brands. It’s exciting to see how it’s growing.”
Right now there’s a boon of new local ciders. says Gretchen Perbix of Sweetland Orchard in Webster, Minn., “Folks here are just so interested in where their food is grown and how it’s produced. Minnesotans are so willing to give local cideries a chance.”
At Surdyk’s, the inventory reflects the enthusiasm, with more than 100 varieties to choose from. (Ciders are on sale there from Aug. 18–29 when you can get up to 20 percent off all cider and a chance to taste several in-store.)
Sounds like a party! Here are some tips on doing a cider tasting right.
Get what you think you might enjoy or are curious about, obviously, but here’s some other approaches from Perbix:
- Buy a range of one product line so you can proceed from dry to sweet to other flavors.
- Purchase all local, dry, or sweet ciders, depending on preferences.
- Choose a classification, such as all ciders made from heirloom apple varieties.
Selecting Food To Serve
Unlike wine, cider is virtually fail-proof when it comes to food pairings because it’s all high in acid. Here are some starter nosh options:
- Kimchi (for dry and minerally ciders)
- Lamb skewers, spring rolls (for dry and floral ciders)
And, of course, cheese. You never go wrong with it. Here’s what they recommend at Surdyk’s:
- For dry ciders: Try Challerhocker, Marieke Aged Gouda, Monte Enebro, and Bent River Camembert.
- For sweet ciders: Try Munster.
- For sweet or dry ciders: Try Bleu Mont Bandaged Cheddar, Grazier’s Edge, Bayley Hazer Blue, and Pecorino Tuscano Risirva.
Cider is similar to wine in that the full sensory experience is just as important as the swallow. Choose stemware that allows you to get your nose in the glass and appreciate the aromas. “A wine glass with a big bowl is perfect to swirl the cider to release the aromatic properties,” Surdyk says.
+ Cider Picks from Surdyk's
This taproom in Northeast Minneapolis cranks out incredible cider. Freewheeler is bright, tart, refreshing, earthy, and slightly sweet on the finish. It’s perfect for an outside party since it’s sold by the can.
Loon Juice is made from locally grown Honeycrisp apples and produced at Four Daughters Winery in Spring Valley, Minn. It’s refreshing, light, and slightly tart with a dry finish.
Recipe development is a part of any great product and this cider is no different, named because the twelfth recipe was the perfect blend. No. 12 Cider House boasts more than 10 local varieties of apples, which creates effervescence comparable to champagne.
This cider is made with a mixture of organic apples from Sapsucker Farms and Breezy Hill Orchard. It’s delightfully refreshing, bubbly, and slightly sweet, with a crisp, dry finish.
Family-owned for nine generations, Aspall hails from Suffolk, England. The standout is Perronelle’s Blush, a balanced cider with a touch of blackberry juice that adds to its beautiful color, complex flavor, and aroma.
Crispin was founded in Minneapolis and the cider is an incredible value. These versatile, naturally fermented ciders are an easy addition to your cider soiree.
Unpretentious and as clean as ciders come, EZ Orchards ciders are fermented in the traditional French method, which yields complex flavors from mature fruit. This cider is dry and full of fresh apple taste.
This is a traditional German apple wine and has been made this way for more than 125 years. It’s a perfect example of how cider is made in other parts of the world.