Where to Get the Best Hard Cider in the Sacramento Area
There’s beer. There’s wine. There’s liquor. But if you’re looking to indulge in something wholly underrated, now is the season to sample some cider. We’re not talking the sugary sweet stuff sucked from juice boxes or the cinnamony hot cider sipped around the holidays. Instead, we’re talking hard cider hand-crafted from artisan makers, often with locally-grown apples and other fruit.
While the greater Sacramento area has its share of craft breweries, it is also on the fast-track to becoming a hotspot for world-class ciders. Its proximity to Apple Hill has no doubt impacted this growing industry, as cider makers have their pick of apples and pears from which to ferment their product — dozens of varieties in fact, as well as berries, cherries and other fruit.
Contrary to popular belief, cider is not brewed like beer. Rather, the process is similar to winemaking: the fruit — either apples or pears — is pressed, juiced and fermented. The length of fermentation will impact the flavor of the final product, as will sugar levels, acidity and other factors. Hard ciders are typically dry, but they can also be semi-dry or sweet.
The greater Sacramento area has several notable cider makers as well as craft brewers who’ve delved into the world of cider production. Some you can sample right in their tasting rooms, while others distribute their products to area stores and restaurants. Following are the best cider makers in the region.
Hidden Star | Camino
Tucked amongst the hills in Camino, this quaint cider barn uses 16 varietals to produce their hand-crafted ciders, from Pink Lady to Gold Rush. They also have unique options, including Cherry Seinfeld (tart cherry), Blacklist (blackberry) and Blue Angel (blueberry). You can bring the whole family and make a day of it — they have a pumpkin patch, kids play zone and craft vendors. They offer daily lunch specials and baked goods, so you can indulge in delicacies like caramel apple monkey bread and maple bacon apple cider donuts courtesy of Shorty’s Donuts & Sugar Lillie Bakery.
Two Rivers Cider Company | Curtis Park
Two Rivers Cider is the go-to spot in Sacramento for hard cider. Located near Curtis Park, their tasting room is kid- and dog-friendly, often with live music and food trucks. Best of all, they have more than a dozen ciders on tap at any one time, including single-variety apple ciders like Macintosh or Newtown Pippin, as well as fruit flavors like passionfruit, blackberry and cherry.
Dueling Dogs Brewing Company | Lincoln
This friendly brewery in Lincoln is known for their dog-themed brews, such as Puppy Pils and Dog Haze of Summer. But they are also well-regarded for their selection of meads and ciders. The latter is brewed with apples from Apple Hill, with flavors like blackberry and raspberry. They are dog-friendly (clearly!) and often have food trucks on weekends.
Cider House | Midtown
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One of the newer players in Sacramento’s hard cider game is Cider House in Midtown. This gluten-free cider taphouse and restaurant has more than a dozen ciders on tap, with selections from local producers as well as those from throughout California and beyond. If you’re hungry, you can order up some Hawaiian soul food — all gluten-free.
Hemly Cider | Courtland
This cider maker in Courtland uses locally-grown fruit, some of which is estate grown. Varieties include traditional pear (known as perry) and apple, as well as jalapeño pear, strawberry lavender and chai pear. You can order directly from their website or find their ciders at stores and restaurants around town.
Jack Russel Farm Brewery | Camino
In the heart of Apple Hill, this longstanding brewery in Camino is a popular spot for a rest and refuel during a day of apple hunting. They’re known for their beers, but they also have a selection of ciders as well, with flavors like blackberry and raspberry. They have food trucks too so you can grab lunch while you sample.
Common Cider Company | Auburn
This artisan cidery is well known for their award-winning ciders, which includes flavors like blood orange tangerine, pineapple guava and hibiscus saison. They’ve recently opened a tasting room in Auburn, where you can sample their ciders, grab a bite to eat from a rotating food truck, or join in a special event like yoga classes or craft workshops.
Stir Cider Company | Rocklin
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This artisan cider company based in Rocklin uses specialty apples grown right here on the West Coast. Minimally filtered, the taste of the fruit shines through. Flavors include a traditional dry apple as well as blueberry lavender and crimson red. You can buy directly from the website or find them at restaurants, bars and shops around the greater Sacramento area.
Nitty’s Cider | Clarksburg
This small producer in Clarksburg has only been in operation a few years, but is quickly making an impact on Sacramento’s cider scene. Using apples from Apple Hill, they produce dozens of unique varieties, which can be found in restaurants throughout Northern California. Popular flavors include orange peach mango, blackberry cherry and watermelon cucumber, as well as unusual concoctions made with avocado and lime or peppermint candy cane.
North Canyon Cider Company | Camino
Premium ciders made from estate-grown apples are the name of the game at this well-known spot in Camino. Juice is pressed daily and every step — from fermenting to bottling — takes place at their family-run cider house. Apple varieties include both sweet and dry, and there’s also a ginger pineapple. Their cider mill is only open on weekends during the fall, but you can find their ciders throughout Sacramento and the Bay Area.