Dry, funky cider lovers rejoice — the USDA is about to release Spanish apple varieties to the United States, which means American cider consumers might see a lot more authentic “sidra-style” ciders going forward. Sidra, or Spanish cider, is already getting attention from these American cidermakers who are crafting tart, effervescent, musty interpretations of the sipper.
Though many North American cidermakers are crafting dry, effervescent ciders that may appear and taste sidra-style, the true essence of a Spanish cider comes from the origin of its fruit, barrel aging and funky notes created by wild yeast. These producers are paying homage to this process and pioneering the style’s cider movement on the continent. With the addition of Spanish apple trees on American soil, sidra-style will become that much more inspired, even authentic. Long live the txotx.
ANXO D. Sidra
This Washington D.C. cidermaker and restaurant group is named after a Basque mythological creature, and dedicated to serving cider and food inspired by the region. ANXO serves several sidra-style products — including D. Sidra, made from foraged apples and crabapples fermented with yeast that naturally occur on the fruit skin. Cooked apple and strong tannin notes bound from a glass of this cider, with a subtle sulfurous aroma and biting acidity on its finish.
Millstone Cellars Sidra Americana
This appropriately named American farmhouse cider is Millstone’s nod to the Spanish cider tradition. Juice is fermented on apple skins to capture native yeast that creates this cider’s tannic, tart features. Musty, dry and acidic, this sidra-style captures the essence of rustic, farmhouse cider.
Finnriver Farm & Cidery Sidra
Made with Washington-grown dessert apples, the juice is fermented with open space in the tank to expose it to oxygen, supporting wild vinegar bacteria that produce the acetic nose drinkers come to expect in the style. Sidra is quintessentially earthy, with notes of brine, olives and pine on the nose, and an underlying nutty bitterness.
Tilted Shed Ciderworks Inclinado Sidra
Each year Tilted Shed crafts a new vintage of the Inclinado — Spanish for “tilted” — made with Sonoma County apples and aged in neutral French oak barrels. This complex cider boasts strawberry, clementine, sour apple, blue cheese, honeysuckle and white pepper notes. Inclinado is tangy and acetic, just like the traditional sidras it emulates.
Blackduck Cidery ¡No Pasarán! Sidra
Blackduck Cidery in upstate New York honors the cider-producing regions of Asturias and the Basque country with this tangy blend of 70 percent heirloom apples and 30 percent bittersweet apples. The combination gives the cider a refreshing raw apple quality with the following tartness and acidity associated with ciders of the historic areas it salutes.
Reverend Nat’s Hard Cider Sidra Bravo
This beer-influenced cidermaker crafts a cider that is beyond tart and funky, and is actually sour to taste. The beer term “horse blanket” used to describe barnyard funkiness is prominent in this extra-dry puckering cider. Rev. Nat’s was also the host of the Sidra Sidra Sidra festival that brought together Spanish-style American ciders from Tilted Shed Ciderworks, Finnriver and more, as well as authentic sidras imported from Spain.
This article originally ran in print Vol. 10 of Cidercraft magazine. For the full story and more like it, click here.