Ciders of Fire and Ice

Photo Courtesy of Seattle Cider Company

Sparked by modern innovation as well as a deep love of the apple, two of the hottest cider styles in the Northwest―fruit-laden, silky-sweet ice cider and fragrant, pink-hued rosé cider―are growing in popularity and selection. While both vary greatly in taste and process to make, each are well worth sipping this season.

Borrowing its appellation from the wine, rosé cider, one of the fastest growing trends in the market today, is loosely defined as ciders ranging in color from blush to crimson. They can also be split into two basic styles: heritage and modern.

Heritage cideries, which primarily use heirloom, wild, cider and/or crabapples to make their ciders, have been crafting small-batch rosés for years. The secret to its natural color and flavor profiles? Rare, endangered Malus niedzwetzkyana, also known as Niedzwetzky’s apple or red-fleshed apples.

Ciders made from red-flesh apple varieties face unique challenges during the fermentation process. “Chemically, the apples are very different from any other variety that we work with,” says Tim Larsen of Snowdrift Cider Company, East Wenatchee, Washington. “We must emphasize slower, colder fermentations.”

A prime example of heritage rosé cider in the Northwest is Snowdrift Cider Company’s Red Cider, made from eight different varieties of red-fleshed apples, with notes of cranberry, watermelon and strawberry with toffee on the finish. Another is Alpenfire Cider’s Glow Rosé, a single varietal made from Aerlie Red Flesh apples (also known as Hidden Rose) and tastes of wild strawberries and off-dry tropical fruits.

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