Gluten Free and Thirsty is an ongoing series by Drink Up Columbus’ favorite glutard (that’s the probably-not-PC way to say “has a gluten allergy). For previous Gluten Free articles, click here.
It’s hard to go out when you can’t drink beer. As much as I love liquor, I don’t want to be the Monday happy hour lush that’s had one too many flirtinis every Monday, so I sought out alternatives.
Well vodka on ice? Not the smoothest 5pm drink. Wine with lunch? Sure, if my boss is paying.
Fruity, crisp, and easy to drink a lot of, ciders of all kinds have become my go-to “weekday” drink.
“Wanna grab a beer?” a friend will ask. My response: “How dare you ask me to drink beer when you know it is liquid poison to my body! Maybe next time you will offer me a cider instead.” Clearly I’ve never said those exact words because, let’s face it, I wouldn’t have any friends left if I went all Scarlett O’Hara on everyone’s ass when they offered me a gluten containing product. I have, however, thought this before. Not only because I can’t drink beer, but because cider is damn good, and there are many choices to choose from. After all, variety is the “spice of life,” right?
Ciders I Will Drink Until My Face is Flat on the Floor:
Crispin’s the Saint
Belgian yeast = delicious. Maple syrup = heavenly. Cider made with Belgian Trappist yeast and maple syrup? Absolutely addicting. Crispin, you’ve come a long way, baby. Launched in 2008, the “super premium” cider manufacturer has transformed the cider market, transitioning the often-laughed at beer substitute from a drink for wussies to a drink for connoisseurs. And with the Saint, they’ve allowed the cider-lovers and glutards of the world to indulge in tasty, musky, Belgiany heaven. The first time I had a bottle of the Saint, I lazily ignored the bottle’s label which urged me to pour the cider over ice. Consequently, I did not like my first bottle. Determined to like the unique and fancy-looking beverage, I purchased yet another, and drank it over ice. I was skeptical, but after my first two swallows I fell in love. The Saint is cloudy and delicious, slightly musky at first with hints of maple in the middle, finishing crisper than ever as it soothes thirst. It sells for around $6.99 per 22 oz. bottle, and went well with my snack of cheese, chips, and salsa.
Where I’ve seen it: Market District, Whole Foods, Weiland’s, and Gentile’s.
Neil House Brewery’s Brewmaster’s Select Cranberry Cider
If you haven’t had this locally produced-cider that’s fit for angels, get on it. What initially began as a hobby for Neil House brewmaster Patrick Kelleher has spawned a much larger operation, including a home brew supply store, homebrew classes, and mass production of quite possibly the best tasting hard cider, ever. Fruity, tart and dry enough to keep you asking for more, Neil House’s Cranberry Cider is on point. The cider is sold in 6-packs for around $9.99, and is available on tap at a few neighborhood haunts. On draft, the cider is consistently delicious, however be careful when bringing some home. I’ve had a few hit-or-miss experiences with over-carbed bottles that sprayed the kitchen as soon as I cracked the cap.
Where I’ve seen it: Giant Eagle, Kroger, Market District, Whole Foods, Gentile’s, Weiland’s, Hal&Als (draft), Average Joe’s (draft), Pigskin in Athens, OH (draft)
New England brewery Harpoon took local, freshly pressed apples, and turned them into a light, delicious and slightly sweet cider. I’ve only had Harpoon a handful of times, as I often have trouble finding it, however each time it was a great accompaniment to a meal and I regard it as a traditional cider standby. I see Woodchuck, Strongbow, and Magner’s in every grocer’s beer cooler and on every bar’s bottom shelf, but a taste of Harpoon will leave you wanting in the future. It has a light body and balanced flavor, not overly tart, not overly sweet, just refreshing and smooth.
Where I’ve seen it: Weiland’s, Market District, Whole Foods.
These are just a few ciders that I enjoy, but I’m too much of a lightweight to keep up with all the choices available. Share the love and leave a comment below about your favorite cider, so we can all get in on the action!