- Alene Bouranova
Summer in Boston means more than just sunshine and Sox games. All around New England, breweries and distilleries bust out the big guns for their summer offerings. Seasonal shandies, flavored liquors and fruit-infused lagers all make their way into local bars and liquor stores. With these enticing options, it’s easy to forget about New England’s original craft beverage: hard cider. Full of flavor from crisp local apples, these Massachusetts and Vermont ciders are not to be underestimated. For your summer sipping pleasure, here are the best of New England’s craft ciders.
Downeast Cider House
Downeast Cider House is a local favorite. Brewed riverside in Charlestown, you’ll find Downeast ciders on tap at bars all around the city and state. The company’s sweet-but-not-too-sweet ciders all go down smooth, from the classic Cranberry Blend (5% ABV) to the beloved Original Blend (5% ABV). The Summer Blend (4.5% ABV) is tarter than its all-season counterpart, thanks to a pinch of lemon juice and ginger root added to the recipe. The result is a shandy-like cider that’s lighter in alcohol content than the Original blend but just as delicious – perfect for casual beachside sipping.
Downeast Cider House, 200 Terminal St. Charlestown, MA, USA +1 857 301 8881
Harpoon Brewery and summer go hand-in-hand. Not only does the Boston brewery host plenty of fun summer events but they also go all out for seasonal creations. From grapefruit shandies to raspberry-infused Hefeweizens, Harpoon has something for every palate under the sun (pun intended). The Hibiscus Cider (4.8% ABV), created by a team of Harpooners for the annual employee brewing contest, is the brewery’s summer pick. Its profile is both floral and fruity, giving it a subtle wine-like flavor that is far from unwelcome. But the original Harpoon Craft Cider (4.8%) will always be hard to beat; this dry cider is simplicity done right.
Harpoon Brewery and Beer Hall, 306 Northern Avenue, Boston, MA, USA +1 617 456 2322
Shacksbury is as craft-y as cider comes. Brewed in Shoreham, Vermont, Shacksbury ciders combine apples sourced from local orchards with apples from British orchards. The result is a repertoire of complex ciders with fresh, distinctive tastes. In the style of hard-hitting English ciders, the higher alcohol content of Shacksbury’s Classic blend (6% ABV) makes it “the best pizza cider, ever”. Its dry and flavorful profile perfectly complements summer cuisine; sample a lobster roll or a bucket of fried clams and slip into a sunshine-y mood.
Shacksbury Cider, 1514 VT-74, Shoreham, VT, USA, +1 802 458 0530
Bantam Cider Company
Just as its name implies, Bantam Cider may be small, but its drinks pack a serious punch. The Somerville cider house has proved to be a city favorite since launching in 2012. Bantam’s main blends are all crowd pleasers, but the Wunderkind (6% ABV), the company’s “maiden voyage,” remains the beverage of choice. This Best of Boston cider is fruity and bubbly in all the right ways; its blend of local apples and honey creates a dry but sweet flavor that all cider lovers can agree on.
Bantam Cider Company, 40 Merriam Street, Somerville, MA, USA +1 617 299 8600
Like tall tales? So do the folks at Sherborn’s Stormalong Cider. Their company name comes from legendary Northeast seaman Captain Alfred Bulltop Stormalong, a fearless deep-water sailor known for battling sea monsters and downing whole barrels of cider every meal. Stormalong’s ciders all channel this daring figure. The bold and bittersweet Legendary Dry (6.9% ABV) is perfect for both ballgame drinking and kraken slaying while the powerful Grand Banks (9.5% ABV) is whiskey disguised as rich, golden apple cider. Spending 10 long months in oak whiskey barrels gives this cider a distinctively sweet aftertaste you’ll remember long after the season has ended.