Wisconsin has a new option in hard ciders: Stevens Point Brewery is introducing a line of hard ciders that should be arriving on Madison store shelves this week.
Ciderboys Cider Company will introduce four hard ciders: two year-round flavors, First Press (Traditional) and Magic Apple (Apple Strawberry); and two seasonal choices, Cranberry Road (Apple Cranberry) for fall and Mad Bark (Apple Cinnamon) for winter.
First Press is the most traditional of the ciders, says Point brewmaster and head cider maker Gabe Hopkins. "It's not crisp or dry, like a champagne-y cider, but sweeter," and that's by design, says Hopkins. Sampling a tasting bottle of First Press at Star Liquor confirms this -- it's quite sweet, with some yeastiness and noticeable carbonation.
Hopkins is enthused about the fruit pairings in the other cider flavors. The pairing of apples with cranberries for Cranberry Road makes for the driest of the ciders. The Magic Apple has an apple-y "front end" with a kick of strawberry in the finish, as he describes it.
Hopkins says the cider recipes were in development for "about a year" as he played with different types of yeast and fruit pairings. All of the fruit used in the ciders comes from Washington state.
Although the ciders are just reaching the Madison market this week, Hopkins says that they have been selling so well that 60% of the first production run is already sold and shipped.
Consumers can expect to find the ciders on certain Madison-area taps as well, although Hopkins did not know specific locations.
And starting next week, the ciders will begin being shipped out of state as well.
Hopkins notes that all the ciders have a 5% ABV and are gluten-free. Making a gluten-free product wasn't easy, says Hopkins, but he is elated that it's now on the market.