Maxim’s Cider Awards

The apple juice was hard, but the taste test wasn’t.

The apple juice was hard, but the taste test wasn’t.

Photographed for Maxim by Jeffrey Westbrook | Licensed to Alpha Media Group 2012

1.  Michelob Ultra Light Cider, 4% ABV

The obligatory health-conscious entry has fewer carbs, but it’s crazy sweet.

Tester’s take: “It’s bubble gum in a bottle. Very girly. Feel like I should have my hair in pigtails.”

2. Crispin the Saint, 6.9% ABV

This strong, cloudy cider has the mouthfeel of a wheat beer,  with a big, chewy apple finish.

Tester’s take: “It’s the kind of thing you can imagine hobbits getting hammered on.”

3. Angry Orchard Crisp Apple, 5% ABV

A classic bright, refreshing cider, with just the right balance of flavor and carbonation.

Tester’s take: “Not too sweet, not too dry. This is what cider should be—like something a lumberjack would drink.”

4. Original Sin Hard Cider, 6% ABV

A very quaffable beverage that’s smooth, light, and somewhat buttery, although maybe too strong for a long session.

Tester’s take: “If your girlfriend had a few, you could convince her this was champagne.”

5. Woodchuck Fall, 5% ABV

An autumnal, almost Christmasy drink with a strong, cinnamon-apple pie finish.

Tester’s take: “This would be excellent if I were sitting around a campfire in the fall. Although it’s pretty damn good in an office chair, too.”

6. Eden Northern Spy, 10% ABV

A thick, syrupy drink, closer to dessert wine than cider.

Tester’s take: “It’s strong and pungent. This will absolutely ruin my brain.”

7. Magners Original, 4.5% ABV

Sweet, simple, and clean, it’s a good starter cider that doesn’t overpower with the apple.

Tester’s take: “This bottle should wear a cape, because it is super drinkable.”

8. Fox Barrel Pacific Pear, 4.5% ABV

This pear-based alternative to traditional apple cider has the fresh, clean taste and smell that makes an ideal fall drink.

Tester’s take: “It’s a nice change-up to apple cider, but don’t quit your day job, pears.”

In-Cider Knowledge: Just What the Hell Is Hard Cider, Anyway?

Hard cider is simply pressed fruit that’s allowed to ferment. Quoth Ned Flanders: “If it’s clear and yella, you’ve got juice there, fella! If it’s tangy and brown, you’re in cider town!” Most are similar to beer in alcohol content, although some English ciders are stronger. Scrumpy is a super-strong English cider that’s cloudy and may contain bits of pulped apple, while sidra, drunk in northern Spain, is so bitter it’s always poured from three feet above the glass to help aerate it. In France they drink poire, a hard cider made from pears—just because the French have to be different.

Want more booze? Check out The Walking Dead Season 3 Drinking Game and The Great American Beer Festival.