The American cider scene may be booming in New England and the Pacific Northwest, but we shouldn't leave out the midwest when we talk about the rise of cider. From suburban Detroit all the way north to the Sutton Bay, Michigan has cider fever. Here are a few of our favorite cideries in the Great Lakes State.
In the far north of Michigan, right in the heart of Leelanau wine country, Tandem Ciders is the brainchild of ex-brewmaster Dan Young and his wife, Nikki. Inspired by a tandem bicycle tour of England, Tandem has been produces award winning ciders using local Sutton Bay apples. Their Smackintosh (5% ABV, 750ml) is a big, red-apple fueled sweet cider with that distinct, fresh-from-the-orchard character, rounded out with the addition of Greenings and Northern Spy apples. It's an ideal cider for crisp fall nights or long afternoons watching the leaves turn.
Tandem also offers the Pretty Penny (5.5% ABV, 750ml), an approachable cider with tropical fruit notes and a slight floral character. With more than 30 apple varietals in the blend, we thought the Pretty Penny would be all over the place, but it is surprisingly harmonious with delicate tannins and a bright food-friendly acidity.
Uncle John's Fruit House Winery
Located in St. John's, right in the heart of Michigan, Uncle John's has been a working family farm for almost forty years. Originally a wholesale fruit and vegetable farm, Uncle John's has been producing breads, preserves, honeys, fresh cider and other provisions since the 1990s. But it's their hard cider that we are interested in. Their apple cider (6.5% ABV, 750ml, $7.99) is sharp and tannic with an earthy character and dry finish. This easy-drinking table cider cuts nicely through fattier dishes like fried food or a cheeseburger.
But the shining star of Uncle John's portfolio is their perry (6.5% ABV, 750ml, $7.99). Slightly sweet, this perry packs more flavor than most of the European ones that we have tried. Rich and earthy with distinct notes of mango and papaya, this is a great introduction to the world of perry.
A mere 25 miles from downtown Detroit, the Northville Winery has been producing cider for over twenty years. Their flagship Hard Cider (6.5% ABV, 750ml) is light in color but big in fruit flavor. The nose leads with aromas of banana, papaya and nectarine. This semi-sweet cider has a nice acidity and finishes slightly musty.
Our favorite Northville cider is their Crimson Dew (6.5% ABV, 750ml), a blend of cider apples and local Balaton cherry juice. While we are still in love with the big, cherry flavors of the Hard Apple Cherry Cider from Black Star Farms that we tried last week, that cider was more of a stone fruit-bomb and the Crimson Dew is more subtle and complex. The Crimson Dew is more of a cider accented by cherries with a clean flavor and tart, tannic finish. The result is incredibly drinkable—it doesn't get cloying halfway through the bottle
There are plenty more Michigan cideries out there producing fantastic cider, but quite a few of them have already sold out for this season. That means they're doing well, which we're glad to hear. Do you have a favorite Michigan cider? Send us a tip for our next cider trip to the Great Lakes State.