A sweet alternative to beer in any season

Alcoholic drinks are as varied as the people who drink them. As the seasons change, so do people’s tastes for different beverages.

Hard ciders have gained popularity in recent years because of their tendency to have a light, sweet flavor that compliments the warm seasons. While typically made from the fermentation of apples, ciders come in a variety of flavors such as blueberry, strawberry, and pear.

Ciders present a tastier and easier-to-drink alternative to beers for some people who have trouble finding a beer they like. Ciders are not made with hops, and as such do not have the bitterness of many beers. Ciders are frequently gluten free as well, which allows those with gluten allergies to find a beverage they can enjoy. Ciders are typically classified as dry or sweet, or fall somewhere in between the two.

Dry cider is the popular choice of ciders in the United Kingdom, the world’s largest consumer of cider beverages. Dry ciders are, as expected, less sweet and have more of a full body flavor. Sweet ciders, on the other hand, capture the sweetness of the fruit they were made from and are typically what an American would encounter when ordering a domestic cider.

Many different brands of cider exist, but there are a handful of top market ciders than can be picked up in stores across the Midwest. Below are some of the best commercially available ciders:

Woodchuck Hard Cider — Crafted in Vermont, Woodchuck ciders come in a variety of mainstay flavors as well as a rotation of seasonal releases. Woodchuck ciders typically have very sweet flavors and hover around 6 percent alcohol by volume.

Strongbow Dry Cider — Strongbow is the second highest selling cider in North America, and possesses a bitter sweetness typical of English-style ciders. Typical alcohol content is around 5 percent by volume.

Hornsby’s Dry Cider — Possessing some of the sweetness of Woodchuck with the right amount of Strongbow bitterness, Hornsby’s provides a solid cider with a 5.5 percent alcohol by volume.

Redd’s Apple Ale — Redd’s is not actually a cider; it’s an ale. However, Redd’s has a delicious flavor that serves as a sort of halfway between cider and a light beer, and is a pleasant drink for a variety of occasions. Alcohol content is 5 percent by volume.