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Published September 03, 2012, 11:38 PM

Now's the time to try ciders at local bars

FARGO – Even though it still feels like summer, apple season has come early to the area. This means, too, that fresh apple cider will start becoming more and more available as the days transition into fall.

FARGO – Even though it still feels like summer, apple season has come early to the area.

This means, too, that fresh apple cider will start becoming more and more available as the days transition into fall.

But, because it’s still a little bit too warm for a glass of hot cider, try the next best thing – a cool, refreshing pint of hard cider, with an alcohol content of roughly 5 percent, served at many bars and restaurants around Fargo-Moorhead.

Try, for example, Crispin Original Cider, served on tap at JL Beers. The Minnesota-brewed cider is light and crisp with a hint of a tangy taste.

Fargo’s JL Beers bartender Johnny Huebsch says ciders are typically more popular with female customers, but are really a good drink alternative for anyone who’s looking for something a little different.

“If you’re not a beer person, cider is a great substitute,” he says.

Dempsey’s Irish Pub in downtown Fargo, meanwhile, offers Angry Orchard cider on tap (Angry Orchard is made by the Boston Beer Company, which also brews the popular Sam Adams brand of beer).

Dempseys bartender Cory Schlack describes Angry Orchard as being light and crisp, and not as sweet as some other brands. That less-sugary characteristic is similar to ciders in England, he says, where the drink is more popular with bar patrons.

“I like a cider that’s not as sweet,” he says. “Here, it seems that a lot of sugar is added.”

In general, Schlack thinks that ciders are becoming a more popular drink order at Dempseys, “more with women, but with men, too,” he says.

Fort Noks Bar of Gold downtown has even more options, with four different brands of cider in bottles (Angry Orchard, Woodchuck, Hornsbys and Oliver), and a total of eight different flavors.

If you want to try something really unique, order a bottle of Oliver – with a high alcohol content of 8 percent, the cider with colorful and fanciful designs on its bottles comes in strawberry, raspberry and peach.

With such fruity flavors, Oliver’s varieties don’t have the same cider feel as the more traditional varieties, like Woodchuck or Crispin, though, but rather more of a champagne taste.

Woodchuck has several varieties of bottled cider, including 802 Dark & Dry, Crisp and Granny Smith, although not all styles are as commonly sold as the original Amber cider offered at Fort Noks.

Regardless of the brand, though, a benefit of cider is that the drink is gluten-free, providing an alternative for people who aren’t able to drink beer because of dietary restrictions.

But if straight cider is a little bit too sweet on its own, try mixing it with different beers or liquors for a unique, easy-to-make drink.

A Snakebite, for example, is a mix of half cider and half lager (at JL Beers, Huebsch says he’ll sometimes add a splash of Guinness to the top for an added taste). See our list of recipes for more cider suggestions.

Whatever your preference, though, as apples start coming off of the trees, now is the perfect time to indulge in some cider.

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