Apples aren’t just for eating anymore. In recent years, hard cider has been the fastest-growing adult beverage, and tasting rooms are popping up across the country. “There’s a lot of experimenting going on and it’s fun to taste cider and see what it’s like,” says Jeff Book, a contributing writer with CIDERCRAFT magazine. Apple harvest season is a great time for visiting places where the drink is made, which are known as cideries. Book shares some favorites with Larry Bleiberg with USA TODAY.
Foggy Ridge Cider, Dugspur, Va.
Founder Diane Flynt and her husband are considered cider pioneers, helping spur a revival of the drink, which was popular throughout the 18th and 19th centuries. They began planting heirloom French, English and American apple trees in 1998 and produce a beverage often compared to fine wine. One of the most popular: Serious Cider. “She has kind of a purist approach,” Book says. The cidery’s located just off the Blue Ridge Parkway, and even has a cottage for overnight guests. foggyridgecider.com
Angry Orchard Hard Cider, Walden, N.Y.
One of the world’s biggest cider producers recently opened a Hudson Valley orchard and interactive visitors center. Guests can visit a treehouse tasting room, take a self-guided farm tour and sip small-batch ciders. “You may taste something that never goes into full production. It’s almost like a cider studio,” Book says. His favorite: The Old-Fashioned, a drink inspired by the cocktail that’s available nationally. The cidery’s owned by Boston Beer Co., the parent of Samuel Adams beer. angryorchard.com/our-orchard
Stem Cider, Denver
Colorado’s capital city has long been a craft beer center, but now cider’s catching on too. Stem Cider attracts crowds throughout the week, with everything from trivia nights and bluegrass concerts to food-pairing events. “They’re really having a lot of fun and trying to be a good convivial bar,” says Book, who suggests trying Branch and Bramble, a dry, raspberry-infused cider. stemciders.com
Wildcraft CiderWorks, Eugene, Ore.
You’ll find more than a dozen ciders on tap at this artisanal maker, which produces locally sourced unpasteurized ciders made without artificial additives. The taphouse tasting room has an extensive menu, serving chickpea fries, truffle mac and cheese, and more. Some ciders include botanicals, like Wild Rose, which is flavored with rose petals. wildcraftciderworks.com
Uncle John’s Cider Mill, St. John’s, Mich.
This family-friendly orchard and farm attracts visitors with a bakery, fresh produce and harvest-season attractions like a corn maze. It started making hard cider in 2003, using heirloom apples and fruit blends like pear-apple and apple-cherry, available in cans, bottles and mini kegs. “They offer flights and that’s a really good way to try various ciders and see what they’re like,” Book says. ujcidermill.com
Noble Cider, Asheville, N.C.
Operating out of a former carpet store, this cidery has plenty of room for production and tasting under the same roof. “They’re able to source a lot of fruit from the mountains outside Asheville, and you may even see the fruit being brought in and pressed,” Book says. He likes their Village Tart, made with cherry juice from Michigan. noblecider.com
101 Cider House, Westlake Village, Calif.
Located on the edge of Los Angeles County, this cidery takes its name from U.S. Highway 101. Not only is it located just off the famed road, but it also uses fruits sourced along it too, including apples, lemons, quince and cactus pears. “They have a big bustling tasting room,” Book says. 101cider.com
Citizens Cider, Burlington, Vt.
Located in the heart of an apple-growing region, this maker relies on Vermont and New York orchards for its fruit. “They have kind of an industrial-style tasting room and interesting food, like a Taco Tuesday and buffalo-chicken pizza,” Book says. “There’s a lot on offer.” He suggests trying Currant Affair, flavored with black currants. citizencider.com
Island Orchard Cider, Ellison Bay, Wis.
Located on the northern tip of Door County, this cidery started growing fruit on a nearby Lake Michigan island. “They make a dry French-style cider and a really nice pear cider,” Book says. Visitors can sample and buy bottles on site. islandorchardcider.com
Finnriver Farm & Cidery, Chimacum, Wash.
This Olympic Peninsula tasting room is located on a working farm. Its cider garden, inspired by a beer garden, features live music on weekends and offers food like oysters and wood-fired pizza. “It’s a really pretty spot,” Book says. finnriver.com
Larry Bleiberg, Special for USA TODAY