As the cider market in America opens up, more brands (some corporate and "faux- craft") are stepping in, hoping to cash in on the growing trend. Here are several varieties that I've sampled lately.
This smallish California craft cidery was bought out in 2012 by MillerCoors, but you won't see that on the bottle labels. Trickery!
Nonetheless, this one pours very clean and clear, almost watery. It's got some serious fizz, but no lace. As with the brand name, this is a crisp cider, refreshing and light, with a dry finish (It is a solid 5% ABV). I'd say this would be perfect on a sweltering Midwest Summer day.
Ah! This independent cidery is based in New York, but contract brewed by Florida Beer Company. Original Sin is marked by a cool, hip, even sexy image of a temptingly nude "Eve" on their website and a devilish bottle presentation.
It's a dry and delicious cider that pours clean and nearly clear, with a hint of yellow. Original Sin is not too cloyingly sweet, either, and it's even brewed with champagne yeast, so expect a light and almost champagne-like body. At 6%, it's one of the stronger mainstream ciders, and a delicious one, as well.
Brewed by "Redd's Brewing Company" (aka MillerCoors in disguise), this isn't technically a "cider", but it's certainly a play on the cider formula, presumably a middle-ground drink for casual beer drinkers.
Pours a caramel-amber (but then again, there is "caramel coloring" added here). Points off. Very little suds, and absolutely no lace. More like a cider than a beer, the aroma is straight-ahead apple juice, even though the "ingredients" include "natural apple flavor". So this is less than a cider, presumably sans any real apple juice! Heinous! Taste is very cidery, but less sweet than most, and a slightly more malty "beer-like" finish. Not horrible to the taste, but I wonder about all the seemingly artificial ingredients, and still question how this qualifies as "ale".
In summation, pick up an Original Sin, Woodchuck, or Sam Adams' Angry Orchard cider and avoid Redd's for sure.