Top 5 Ciders at Cider Summit 2016

Another stunning SF day and idyllic Presidio setting for SF Cider Summit

Another stunning SF day and idyllic Presidio setting for SF Cider Summit

Besides the dreamy lawn setting with Bay views in the ever-stunning Presidio, Cider Summit SF (held April 23) was exciting for its international mix of ciders, most on draft, from small producers. The event is small enough to be approachable but digging there was plenty to taste and some new and interesting discoveries for me, even as much as I taste thousands of wines, spirits, cocktails and beers each year.

Tag + Jug Cider

Tag + Jug Cider

Here are my top 5 ciders from this year’s Cider Summit:

1. Tag + Jug

SF local Tag + Jug Cider Co. is produced on Treasure Island by proprietor Aaron Bryan. It was the most balanced and memorable of the ciders I tasted all afternoon. It recalls Old World funk, complexity and elegance yet is decidedly a New World cider. Rather than diluting the brand with a series of ciders, Bryan has perfected one signature brut cider that calls for food pairings and sunny afternoons. Thankfully, for those of us in SF, it’s on tap at key places like Alembic, Blackbird, Wes Burger, Southpaw BBQ, Old Bus Tavern, and, of course, Upcider.

2. Humboldt Cider Co.’s Montmorency Cherry Cider

Humboldt Cider Co., produced in Arcata, CA, has a number of lovely ciders (like their subtle citra/simcoe hopped cider) but it was their tart, fresh, lively montmorency cherry cider that wowed me with all the joys of sour cherries inherent.

3. Le Brun Daufresne Poire Cidre

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Cider House

101 Cider House’s black cider

Maybe it’s too easy since I am such a Calvados (French apple brandy) fanatic from France’s Normandy region. So there was no way I wasn’t going to love Le Brun Cidre. Dry and lovely, the effervescent brut and the vibrant Daufresne Poire (Perry or pear) Cidre both exhibit those fresh pear and apple flavors from the apples grown in Normandy. This is a French brandy lover’s cider.

4. 101 Ciders House’s Cactus Red

The wealthy suburban town of Westlake Village north of LA seems an unlikely place for interesting ciders and though they look more “commercial” and are sold at Whole Foods, 101 Cider House stood out. Black Dog follows a crazy trend in cold press juices: charcoal for cleansing. This black cider tempers the charcoal with coconut, lemon and lavender. Though the black ciders made the visual statement, more gratifying to drink is Cactus Red, showcasing California cactus pears with an herbal kick from Thai basil.

5. Riestra Sidra Natural

It’s almost impossible not to have a Spanish sidra in “top tastes” at a cider festival. From my own travels in Galicia visiting sidra producers, I relish the funky, almost cheese-like notes and vibrancy of sidras from Northern Spain. Riestra Sidra Natural exemplifies those characteristics beautifully.

And More

I also enjoyed Horse & Plow’s subtle Hops & Honey Cider, Tilted Shed‘s Spain-reminiscent (though produced in Sonoma County) Inclinado Sidra, Common Cider’s tart Blackberry Sangria and San Francisco Meadery’s sherry-like Gravenstein mead.

No filter needed: Presidio perfection on a Saturday afternoon

No filter needed: Presidio perfection on a Saturday afternoon