Although I know staying away from alcohol altogether is probably the best option, I'd like to know if ciders (Woodchuck, hard-cider, etc) are an acceptable option if consumed in small quantities. I had someone mention this to me and wasn't really sure of its validity. Has anyone heard of this as an option?
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If it's not impeding your goals in anyway then, IMO, go for it. Read the bottles to verify that there isn't any added sugars, or any other oddities, and away you go.
What I've tried, see below, Woodchuck is too sweet for me - I also left out some of what the others have listed keeping to the ones I like best. Some may not float your canoe but as my toes are in the booze industry I'll give pretty much anything a shot. 80/20 rule applies to me :)
- Julian out of CA
- Samuel Smith Organic
- Original Sin - Cherry Tree, great on a hot day in a pint glass full of ice. I found Pippin too sweet
- All the Crispin offerings - The Jacket was wild. Some have "natural apple flavouring" so just keep an eye out
- Eve's Cidery - They blow out of their bottles quickly, it's seasonal, the Northern Spy is delicious
- Fox Barrel "Perry"
- Angry Orchard. I thought the dry was too sweet but the ginger apple really surprised me, quite nice
- Wandering Aengus Ciderworks - The Wanderlust is tasty-
- Urban Farm Fermentory Baby Jimmy. I love so much I would like to hug the bottles
I don't mind Brit ciders but definitely prefer French: - Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut de Normandie - SWOON Domaine Dupont knows whats up - Eric Bordelet ???reserve??? cuvees Sydre Argelette and Poire Granite
And, sorry, you can't buy it yet, but Virtue Cider from my buddy Greg, one of the original owners of Goose Island, is going to be the jam. I was given a rando bottle as a gift and it's weird and wonderful. Put on a list as a future purchase!
I love a cold Strongbow, myself, but I also brew my own. No really - it's stupid-easy!
Buy one of those glass gallon jugs of organic apple juice and dump a packet of champagne yeast into it, cap and shake. Remove the lid and replace with a cheap airlock (a balloon stretched over the opening will also do the trick.) Let the yeast go to work on the juice for about a week. The yeast will settle to the bottom. Siphon your cider into a clean jar, leaving the yeast residue behind. Let the cider sit another several days to a week - tasting every couple of days to test sweetness. Depending on how warm/cool room temperature is in your house, two weeks may be enough time to give you a fairly dry cider. Customize the brewing time to suit your taste.
Voila: Organic hard cider with no presvatives or added sugar!
Very good dry cider is ridiculously easy to make too. Champagne yeast, organic apple juice, added sugar if you want the alcohol content higher. For store-bought things, the problem is usually some added ingredient. The worst is when brands you get used to relying on decide to adulterate their products.
Not all Hard Ciders are sweet. I think that if you were to drink Woodchuck you would find it has way to much sugar (22g).
In Colorado we are fortunate to have access to some craft Cider: http://coloradocider.com/our-cider which is great and low in sugar (less than 4 g).
I have found Strongbow's dry cider sold in most large liquor stores as an acceptable alternative coming in at 9 grams of sugar per bottle. There is a good chance your beer drinking friends will make fun of you for drinking cider (mine do). However the negative consequences of drinking a couple beers just isn't worth it for me anymore.
I never really developed a tasted for Sorgum (gluten free) beer so Cider has been a good replacement on the occasion to drink with friends.
Try Crispin cider. I can usually do one without feeling terrible and it isn't sickly sweet.
EDIT: I know this is slightly off topic (and not very classy), but when I want a cider-like drink without the sugar craziness, I add carbonated mineral water to red wine and some frozen blueberries. I know this seems like cheerleader juice, but it is really refreshing and much better than going through the discomfort that sugar brings.
What do you mean by acceptable? I will still accept you if you drink it. Well, as long as you're a happy drunk. Definitely not if you're an angry drunk.
I believe Woodchuck has sulfites and/or other preservatives added.
Hard cider helps keep me sane. I got tired of paying a ton for sugary cider at the store, so I made this: http://www.homebrewtalk.com/f81/edworts-apfelwein-33986/. But my favorite cider is dry hopped and FABULOUS: Finnriver's http://www.vineyard2door.com/web/product_detail.cfm?id=12480. It's local to me, but if you're in WA, OR, CA, MN, FL or DC, I think you can have it shipped. It is outstanding and not at all sweet. Perfect for summer grilling.
So, yeah I think hard cider is kosher. It's a treat, but fermented foods are about as traditional as one can get. Just don't buy the stuff with crap added.
As others have said, Woodchuck has a fair amount of sugar-it's my favorite though! I only like it on tap though and haven't had it in about 6 months. Strongbow is pretty good but another one no one else has mentioned is Blackthorn, which is also lower in sugar/carbs. I believe the Blackthorn comes in Med-dry and Dry, the more dry the cider, the less sugar/carbs it will have. I think the same company also makes Sir Perry's Pear Cider, it is also pretty good but I think it is pretty high in carbs/sugar.
Hornsby's is a malt beverages flavored to taste like cider, IIRC. They are also known to not be gluten free.
(note - I'm finding some flip-flopping about Harpoon btw... apparently they state they are gluten free and no gluten goes into production, but perhaps they aren't certified because of the facility? I removed it from my response)
I'm a Strongbow, Magners, and Ace Brewing man myself. Ace Pear Cider is the bombdiggity.
Be careful of the sugar, there is a ton in cider. I tend to have cider with boilermakers (shot of whiskey in cider) when my friends are drinking carbombs (shot of whiskey in guinness).
Crispin has so many different varieties, including one with hops.
I also am a big fan of Scrumpys. Made from just apples.
This weekend I had a cyser (not cider) from Maine Meadworks on tap at a beer restaurant. It was fabulous. I want to look for more from these guys.
Beweare of Harpoon. It's tasy but they don't guarantee it's not cross-contaminated with gluten from their brewery.
I've been drinking hard cider for a long time (since I studied in the UK during college). As much as I like red wine, sometimes I really want a beer replacement that's gluten free. Not the same, but I find a good dry cider a lot more refreshing than a glass of red.
ANYWAY. Like greymouser said, Harpoon is kind of icky. I enjoy Originial Sin and some of the drier varieties from Woodchuck, but my favorite ciders are from Crispin and one of our local (Virginia) companies. If you're not too concerned about residual sugar, just try out a bunch of different artisanal varieties and pick your favorite.
I think this is my millionth DIY advocate post of the month, but making your own is really fun as well. Get organic apple juice without preservatives (bonus if you make it from unfiltered raw cider in the fall) and use the techniques in Sandor Katz' book(s). You can play with long or short fermentation times and added flavors. (And if you screw up, wait a couple of weeks and you'll have raw cider vinegar! Everybody wins.)
A good hard cider is made from Paleo ingredients - i.e. apples (arguably pears) -- so only the caveats of alcohol being Paleo or not apply.
As some have stated, the range of sugar varies. For flavor and less sugar, I prefer Strongbow or Magners. They are lower in calories than Woodchuck (120C v. 200C for a ~12oz bottle). These two are also (from my experience) the most common to find in bars after Woodchuck, which is nice. My local pub has Magners on tap, which is fantastic.
I had a Fox Barrel pear cider this weekend, which was the first dry-er pear cider I've ever had -- quite nice.
I would avoid Harpoon's hard cider -- I found it almost unpalatable.
Original Sin and Angry Orchard are quite good, but they tend to be on the sweeter side.
PALEO Ciders made from ONLY fresh-pressed apples and no additives:
Julian Hard Cider Teiton Ciderworks Red Barn
NON-PALEO Ciders made from Chinese apple juice concentrate and added sugars:
Angry Orchard Crispin Fox Barrel Woodchuck Wyders Original Sin ACE Strongbow Magners Bulmers Blackthorne Wandering Aengus
Harpoon makes a tasty dry cider that goes down well for me. 7g sugar per bottle, no sulfites, no preservatives. Farnum Hill Extra Dry Cider is a nice one, too.
Different flavors of Woodchuck have different nutritional facts as well. I'm looking at a bottle of the Granny Smith and it says 160 calories, 11g sugar (less than 1% added sulfites), which to me is an acceptable treat. It's mighty tasty too.
Hard ciders are usually gluten free (although you should probably check the specific brand to be sure). So, if you are looking for a gluten free, carbonated alcoholic beverage, it is an option.
I tried drinking hard cider for a while. But it is just too sweet for me. Now I'm of the opinion that if I am going to drink a small amount of alcohol, I'm just going to drink what I like. When I want a nice hoppy IPA, no amount of carbonated apple juice, er hard cider, is going to do the trick.