Top Pick Of The Week

May 21, 2013


After one sip of Crispin Original Apple Cider, you’ll be a fan. Photo courtesy Freekeh Foods.

WHAT IT IS: Super-premium artisan ciders, both apple and pear.
WHY IT’S DIFFERENT: Superpremium in quality: the finest fruits, no additives.
WHY WE LOVE IT: Wonderful flavors, Champagne-like elegance, something special for parties.
WHERE TO BUY IT:  Available in stores nationwide, or contact


A four-pack of artisan Crispin Light Apple Cider is a welcome host or hostess gift.

The Saint, guaranteed to convert cider skeptics.

Imported cans bring U.K.-style ciders to the U.S. Fox Barrel is the company’s perry (pair cider) brand.

Party time! All photographs courtesy Crispin Cider.



Sparkle With A Glass Of Crispin Hard Apple Cider...& Pear Cider, Too


Most people think of fall as apple cider season. That’s true for fresh-pressed cider. But hard cider, which is fermented for a couple of months, is an anytime beverage that is especially delicious in the warm weather.

Hard cider is typically sparkling and appeals to beer drinkers and those who prefer the lush fruit flavor of cider to the malty, hoppy flavors of beer.

Cider has one important advantage, too: Unlike beer, which is made from grain, fruit-based cider is gluten free.

More benefits: Like wine, cider has a relatively high concentration of antioxidants. Beer, made from grain, does not. And if you like to have more than one, cider is less filling than beer.

We’re particularly fond of Crispin Hard Cider, what we think of as the most elegant of ciders. The naturally fermented line is made from the fresh pressed juice of Northwest apples—not from apple juice concentrate like many ciders.

It’s pure, clean cider: There is no added malt, grape wine or spirit alcohol, no added colorants, sorbate or benzoate preservatives.

Instead, the ciders are smoothed with pure apple juice or, in the case of the pear cider, with organic honey or organic maple syrup. The result is crisp and wonderful, whether for a leisurely drink or a food-friendly beverage (or recipe ingredient (just check out the recipes at The ABV (alcohol by volume) is 5.3%.


7 Cider Varieties

There are actually seven different Crispin hard apple ciders:

The Blue Series:

  • Original, the universal favorite (dark blue label).
  • Light, only 110 calories; regular has 144 (aqua blue label).
  • Brut, a brisk yet refined European-style extra-dry cider  (purple label).

Crispin Browns Lane

  • Browns Lane is an imported classic European dry cider, named for the original Jaguar car factory in England. It is crisp and lightly sparking.

Artisanal Reserves, limited edition ciders for connoisseurs. These unfiltered (cloudy) ciders are like fine craft beers:

  • Honey Crisp, a small batch, hand crafted, superpremium hard apple cider smoothed with organic honey.
  • The Saint, a cider that we regrettably did not taste, since Crispin says it is “a uniquely debonair and elegant cider [that will] convert skeptics.”
  • Lansdowne, an extra-stout bodied, imposing cider.

New bottlings are always in the pipeline. You may find Crispin Bohemian, naturally fermented with authentic Pilsner lager yeast; and Crispin Bird On A Wire, a new cider blended with four unique apple-wines aged in both rye and Bourbon American whiskey barrels. The lines variously include bottle and can packaging.

Apple Cider Vs. Hard Apple Cider


In the U.S. and parts of Canada, the term “apple cider” is interchangeable with apple juice. in Europe, apple cider is what we call hard apple cider, an alcoholic drink that many prefer to beer.

Hard cider is made from apple juice that ferments for about eight weeks after the apples are pressed. The cider then matures or several months; it is blended, filtered and carbonated.

The result is a drink with the carbonation and alcohol of beer and the flavor of apples. As with beer, each brand has a distinct flavor profile and alcoholic content, generally from a 3% ABV or less to 8.5% or more.

Hard cider is best served chilled or over ice.


Pear Cider: Perry


Perry  is the English term for pear cider. Fox Barrel, a brand owned by Crispin, offers both a domestic sparkling perry from Pacific Northwest pears, and an imported sparkling perry made in England from 100% premium pears.

There are also delicious flavored ciders: a blackberry-pear sparkling cider and a pomegranate-pear still cider, both of which have added sweetness and color from natural berry juice.

The perrys are smoothed with pure pear juice; avoid brands that use less expensive apple juice.

As with Crispin hard apple cider, the beverages are all natural: no added flavors or colorants, no sorbate or benzoate preservatives. They are also naturally fermented: no malt, spirit or apple alcohols.

A classic English medium-dry natural Perry, Fox Barrel is juicy and fresh, in a medium-body, lightly sparkling style. It dances with natural pear flavors; there is a a subtle citrus zing and a long natural pear finish. 5.3% ABV; the slight cloudiness in the light straw color is natural.

The newest bottling is Fox Barrel Wit Pear, using wit yeast fermentation with natural orange-peel and coriander. It’s both sophisticated and a charmer.


Party Time

One of the best ways to explore the joys of cider is to get a bottle of everything you can lay your hands on and invite friends to a hard cider tasting

Start with as many types of Crispin as you can find: The line is distributed nationally. To find the stores in your area, email The other approach is to gather up as many different brands as you can and pit Team U.S.A. against Team Europe.

Food With Cider


You can serve hard cider with any snack or food you’d serve with beer. But the sweetness of cider allows you to serve desserts with it, too, especially apple desserts (pie, crumble, bread pudding).

  • For snacks, serve hearty cheeses and charcuterie.
  • For main courses, make chicken, fondue, pork, sausages, seafood, soups, stews,.
  • In recipes, you can substitute hard cider for wine and drink the cider along with the meal.


For more information, visit the company web-site,


— Karen Hochman


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