Cider’s having a moment, and that’s evident in Denver — there are already three cider mills carving a path in the city. To get in the fall spirit, we dropped into Stem Cider, Colorado Cider Company and C Squared Ciders to see what this season brings for the cider connoisseur looking for a taste of something different. The ciders on this list are pushing the boundaries of what a modern cider can be — from barrel aging to wine fortification — the ciders on this list are worth finding while they’re available.

C Squared Ciders

Photo courtesy of C Squared Ciders

Fuzz — a barrel-aged peach

Where: C Squared Ciders —  2875 Blake St., Suite C, Denver

The Lowdown: C Squared Ciders taps into Palisade peaches straight from the western slope to bring you its seasonal peach cider, cheekily dubbed Fuzz ($6 for a six-ounce pour). The cider mill’s original recipe calls for 500 pounds of those peaches to undergo a wild yeast fermentation which results in a grassy, rounded funk that settles delightfully at the nose and on the tongue. The cider is barreled in American oak and aged for as long as eight months in the cellar. A buttery spice profile — acquired after months in barrel — make this cider unusually amazing and completely worth a trip to the tasting room. The extra time spent on the process also ups your ABV on this on draft to seven percent, and it will absolutely put some peach fuzz on your chin. 

Kulcumber — Cucumber Mint

Where: C Squared Ciders —  2875 Blake St., Suite C, Denver

The Lowdown: C Squared Ciders is really chasing the coattails of summer out the door with its cucumber mint cider, called the Kuhlcumber ($6 for a six-ounce pour). This is a real summery sipping fizzer that is light, refreshing and scarily chuggable. This draft has an effervescent grassy cucumber peel on the nose and a frosty floral muddled mint accent that truly sings with freshness. C Squared has taken a summer approach with cucumber which makes this cider both an unusual and an awesome limited release which debuted in early October.

Colorado Cider Company

Photo courtesy of Colorado Cider CO Facebook page

Single Barrel Ol’ Stumpy — American heirloom apple, aged in Chardonnay

Where: Colorado Cider Company — 2650 W. 2nd Ave., #10, Denver

The Lowdown: The taproom is only open on Friday and Saturday, but the seasonal spread offered at Colorado Cider Company  is worth some of your weekend. Single Barrel Ol’ Stumpy ($6 for an eight-ounce pour or $9 for a 500ml bottle) is made with all-American heirloom apples and spends more than a year aging in Chardonnay barrels. This drink has an apple skin chardonnay aroma and a rounded out buttery dry finish that really bridges a gap between wine-making and cider making The extra time spent aging has this recipe at testing at 6.7% ABV — it is dry enough and carries enough oak barrel spice —  to stand beautifully next to a fish fillet or a dozen oysters.

Pateo Feo — sour cherry brett, aged in rum and Chardonnay barrels

Where: Colorado Cider Company — 2650 W. 2nd Ave., #10, Denver

The Lowdown: This spunky cider has a tart-sweet funk that showcases just how versatile cider can be. Pateo Feo ($5 for a five-ounce pour) is a sophisticated sour cider that offers a barnyard funk, a cherry pucker, a rum barrel spice and a Chardonnay butter. The cider itself is poured a flashy rose golden red and offers a long lingering finish. The aging process for this cider lasts more than a year — between both the rum and chardonnay barrels — but well worth the wait. This will only be available in the Colorado Cider Company’s tasting room, so make sure to stop by during business hours on Friday and Saturday.

Stem Ciders

Raspberry Chili Cider. Photo courtesy of Stem Ciders.

Colorado Heritage — citric-balanced apple blend

Where: Stem Ciders — 2811 Walnut St., #150, Denver (also available at select liquor outlets)

The Lowdown: The folks at Stem Ciders really wanted to give Colorado something to put on the shelf for that special occasion or the perfect dinner pairing. Colorado Heritage ($15 for 750ml + $5 corking fee) blends local Dabinett and Winesap apples to create a balanced hard cider that represents the terroir of our beloved state. The Heritage is a smooth finishing, vibrant hard cider with mild tannins and a slight grapefruit finish.

Raspberry Chili Cider – tart raspberry hatch green chili

Where: Stem Ciders — 2811 Walnut St., #150, Denver

The Lowdown: Green chili season is coming to an end for the year — but Stem Cider’s Raspberry Chili Cider ($8 for a 10-ounce pour or $24 for a growler) has a special release that will keep the heat on the coldest fall day. Hatch green chili is a legend in itself, and the traditional flavor profile lives on in this special release. This fizzer offers a slow burn accompanied by a bright burst of bitter dry raspberry.

Coming Soon: Pommeau – sweet apple dessert wine

Where: Stem Ciders — 2811 Walnut St., #150, Denver

The Lowdown: Okay, our contact at Stem Cider let us in on a little secret — the cider company will release its own Coloradan Pammeau in late November. Pommeau is a drink with origins in northwestern France. It is made by mixing brandy or dessert wine with apple juice to form a sort of old-school, cider-style brass monkey. Stem ages its Coloradan version for 20 months in port barrels to give it an added depth and lush dark fruit accents. The official release date has not yet been set, but we were told to expect to see it in the tap room by late November.

Editor’s note: this article was updated to accurately reflect the process of making cider. It is fermented not brewed. We regret the error.