Have you ever wondered where to find a good quality cider? Well, Susanna Forbes, the U.K.’s award-winning cider writer and expert has created a guide highlighting her top picks for the best craft ciders, “The Cider Insider: The Essential Guide to 100 Ciders to Drink Now.” Exploring the globe, Forbes traveled in search of ciders she felt the world needed to be aware of. Her passion for cider shows through in every page. In “The Cider Insider,” Forbes’ writes that there are more than 900 cideries in the United States. At least a quarter of the selected beverages published are from North America. Explore the world with Forbes as you discover ciders you never knew existed.
How was writing The Cider Insider?
The invitation to write “The Cider Insider” was like a dream come true! As well as flavor, I adore finding out about what it is that drives people. Particularly in a challenging profession like cider-making, you’re not going to go into it for the money. So, to have a mission — which meant I could go and travel and find out — was heaven.
What made you fall in love with cider?
A glimpse of the community, as Mike Johnson of Ross on Wye Cider showed me what happened when you blend different cider varieties in his atmospheric cellar. It was a chilly, damp February night outside, but that didn’t matter. His family and friends were chatting away. Hearing from Simon Day how Dragon Orchard in Putley came to life, with plays, music and poems before tasting with this winemaker, and realizing that cider could pair with food. Walking around the Dunkertons’ organic orchard, where every tree was labeled. And the generosity of spirit of people like Tom Oliver, sharing his stories and his insight.
What do you think sets a good cider apart from those on the market?
A good cider is one where the orchard, the season, the fruit, the culture and the hand of the maker all play a part. In other words: terroir. Producers like Eve’s Cidery and BlackDuck in the Great Lakes. Or Zelaia in the Basque Region and Cortina in Asturias. Where we are proud when a cider tastes different every year.
What do you find to be invigorating about the United States’ cider industry?
So many things! The energy with which producers share their wares. The infectious excitement with which they approach the opportunity to try something new. Their welcoming nature. The dogged nature, which many of them have been pioneering orchard-based ciders, and never giving up. The realization that cider is ideal with food, and it can be as aspirational as you like. The professionalism and inclusivity of the United States Association of Cider Makers. The encouragement of the media. It’s not standoffish — there’s a genuine welcome for craft producers who are striving to produce the best cider they can.
What foods have you found pair well with cider?
Well, it depends what cider you have in your glass….Cider has a number of advantages: its acidity provides backbone, while fruit sweetness can balance, and tannins can match umami flavors. Green notes partner salads perfectly.
Salmon is a dream with most ciders. Pick a cured one with something sparkling with some fruit sweetness, so the sparkle can tingle its way through the fatty nature of the fish. Teriyaki salmon demands something with more depth. So an orchard-based cider, with slightly higher ABV, perhaps keeved, where the balance between fruit and acids dances with the spices. Something like Dragon’s Head Traditional Cider.
What was your favorite cider-food pairing?
My favorite ever food pairing was an Oliver’s perry with lemon sole in a butter sauce with capers, pan-fried potatoes and green beans. The perry had stone fruit and lemony notes, and the lightness of texture matched the flaky nature of the fish. The caramelization of the potatoes matched well the savory notes of the perry.