St. Johns, MI
At some point this summer, you'll very likely be standing on a beach or a hiking trail or some other equally scenic seasonal locale and you'll wish you had packed something lightweight and refreshing to quench your thirst. That’s also the point where you'll wish you had packed a can of this cider. It’s downright easy-drinking and simple, with a nice green-apple, fruit-forward, medium body that is nowhere near cloyingly sweet. You might call it a gateway cider of sorts.
The first time someone picks up a this French Basque cider, their response is usually one of surprise. There's way more tartness and acidity than the ciders Americans have grown used to, and fizziness here gives way to a mostly still product that smells like a barnyard. It has the zippiness of a natural white wine or kombucha and the well-earned wide appeal that comes along with anything that tastes like tangy apples. Also, for an import of such high quality, it's incredibly well priced!
Blessington, Co. Wicklow, Ireland
Irish cider has had a majorly bum rap for years thanks to the insanely sweet mass-produced ciders that have dominated the market there for decades. But few people realize that Ireland has a centuries-old history of doing great things with fermented apple juice, and much like the beer scene there, cider has begun to take off in a beautiful way. Craigies is a perfect example of where things are headed on the Emerald Isle while still being a good indicator of its homeland. It has a similar finish to the drier French ciders you get from Brittany, but stops short from being as barnyardy or funky. It’s a porch-drinkin' masterpiece if there ever was one.
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Zach Mack is Thrillist's contributing beer writer, the owner of Alphabet City Beer Co. in NYC, a newly minted Certified Cicerone, and nothing else. Follow him: @zmack.