'Cider is my next frontier," says Tim Kweeder of Petruce et al., echoing a growing sentiment among curious drinkers.
He features some fine examples (Cyril Zangs, Isastegi) of the old Euro style - earthy, tart, lightly effervescent - that are far from the carbonated hard punch that dominates the American market.
But Berks County has its own serious cidery in Frecon Farms in Boyertown that has also really impressed me. The Frecon brothers, Hank and Steve, grow 23 apple varieties on their 60-year-old farm for three very distinct ciders.
Early Man is the best entry-level bottle, bone-dry but with the most residual apple taste. Hogshead, made from Staymans and Winesaps, has rustic hints of tannin and spice from oak-barrel aging. But Crabby Granny - tart with Hyslop crab apples and Granny Smiths - is the real star, its bracing snap fermented with aromatic honey that also masks the 12 percent alcohol. A Granny with a kick? Local cider has a new frontier, indeed.
- Craig LaBan
Frecon Farms ciders, $10.99-$12.99 a 22 oz. bottle at farm markets (Rittenhouse Square, Bryn Mawr, Clark Park) and Frecon Farm (501 S. Reading Ave., Boyertown; freconfarms.com.) Crabby Granny also $6 a glass at Monk's Cafe (264 S. 16th St.)