Hard cider was, at one time, a rarity in the United States, reserved for places like English or Welsh pubs, the kind of new discovery I recall spending hours on the phone about. The first I encountered was Blackthorn, a cider whose reputation varies wildly, but one whose consistency is dependable. The first two American ciders I ran into, Woodchuck and Woodpecker, have had a tendency to have a rotten apple residue at the bottom of the glass that would ruin the experience. In my hands, these two ciders have this problem to this very day. Woodchuck got rid of the problem for a while, but in recent taste testing, no, it has come back.
My ought two on hard ciders are that English ciders are the most reliable, and best on draft when you can get them. Outside of the reliability issue, American manufacturers tend to “do stuff” to their ciders, throwing in sweeteners, or in general adding weird additions to the product to try and draw in that Bud Light crowd. A good overview is given in the Chowhound article here, a terrific introduction to the state of ciders available in America.
Cider is becoming available in cans, and the local Kroger had one or two cans of Crispin Brown’s Lane:
It’s quite different from the typical Woodchuck experience, with a lingering bitterness from the bittersweet apples used in its manufacture. It has 19 grams of carbs per serving, enough that a diabetic has to track its use, but not enough to prevent having a can every now and then. This particular serving had a distinct metallic taste, and so I have to say that I’d much prefer finding this cider in bottles. But it is good, and something any cider fan needs to be aware of.
Rate Beer’s rankings of Crispin products is here.