Ask the Experts: Retailers on Cider
November 1, 2016 @ 12:00am
One of my best friends in college never drank beer. When I say beer, I’m talking the entire spectrum of products — no crafts, no cheap 30 packs and certainly no crazy sours. He was a spirits and cider guy, specifically the latter. No matter the place we were drinking, no matter the specials scribbled on those bar chalkboards, he stuck to cider for nearly every occasion rendering future hangovers and hazy memories.
While this sounds like a criticism, the statement isn’t meant to poke fun or humiliate, as cider has become an immensely popular beverage. Whether it’s the gluten free nature of most ciders or the craft appeal of being able to visit local makers, cider is coming into its own. To understand what people in the DMV look for in a cider, we spoke with a few folks who are experts in the field.
“I’m not a big cider fan, but I usually enjoy the French ciders,” says Steve Levan, Beer, Wine and Co. general manager. “Cidre Dupont is a clean dry cider, and it’s not as sweet as some of the other ones.”
Julie Drews of Arlington’s The Brew Shop echoed the sentiments of Levan, suggesting beer drinkers unfamiliar to cider may enjoy selections with a weaker sugar threshold.
“I’m no expert in cider, but I’ve learned a ton since opening the shop,” Drews says. “One I like is from Argus, Ginger Perry, with ginger and pear. It’s one of the most well rounded ciders, a lot of ciders lack the mouth feel I want. They come across too thin, but this drink has a crisp ginger on it that makes it interesting.”
According to the retailers, Virginia ciders such as Bold Rock, Potters and Wild Hare are immensely popular purchases for their customers. The state has really taken the industry by storm, producing some of the best tasting selections you can buy.
“Virginia makes fantastic ciders, and more and more folks are getting interested in the old fashioned styles,” says Ian St. Germain, beverage buyer for Whole Foods Market in Vienna, VA. “Since many other ciders are quite sweet, having a great selection of dry and delicious ciders is a wonderful option.”
However, big names such as Angry Orchard, Virginia’s Bold Rock and Austin’s Austin EastCiders typically win the sales battle within the walls of most stores.
“Angry Orchard is a brand that can be found on shelves across the country, and it’s extremely popular,” said Adam Kelinson of Craft Beer Cellar DC. “At Craft Beer Cellar we find the nationally distributed brand Austin EastCiders to be one of our best sellers.”
Though all of our retailers have favorites, they’re always open for suggestions, as the representatives from each said people make recommendations all the time, and some of those fan picks become popular among other patrons.
“Sonoma Cider was brought in on request, and they’ve done very well for us,” Drews says. “If it’s something we can get, we try and help our customers. Every week we try and get new stuff in.”
“We are always recommending new and interesting ciders to our cider fans,” Kelinson says. “We are always rotating our selection to keep things fresh.”
So keep your eyes open and make sure to ask the clerk behind the counter, you may be in for a cider surprise.
Beer, Wine and Co.: 7029 Wisconsin Ave., Chevy Chase, MD; www.beerwineandco.com
Craft Beer Cellar DC: 301 H St. NE, DC; www.craftbeercellar.com
The Brew Shop: 2004 Wilson Blvd., Arlington, VA; www.altbrew.com
Whole Foods Market: 143 Maple Ave. E, Vienna, VA; www.wholefoodsmarket/stores/vienna