Cider is not beer. Most people probably know this, but it’s an adult beverage that is many times included on the same tap walls and in some of the same conversations. Generally, they seem to run in the same circles despite being quite different.
Many are probably familiar with longtime English mainstay Strongbow. American drinkers will recognize Angry Orchard, which is owned by Boston Beer Company (aka Sam Adams). Some other regional brands might ring a bell, but ciders aren’t nearly as big as beer in the U.S.
While craft beer continues to sell as strongly as ever, small cideries are becoming more common and more popular, and the DFW area is no exception
In 2014, we got our first cidery in the Bishop Arts District of Dallas. Bishop Cider Co. has been growing its capacity and diversity of offerings ever since and has become quite popular among locals. Chances are, you’ve not only seen its tap handles at bars, but cans of its ciders are becoming more commonly seen in beer shops and liquor stores.
Just like many small-to-mid-sized breweries, cideries like Bishop commonly use unexpected ingredients to keep drinkers on their toes. Bishop, of course, employs plenty of apples. But stopping there would be a bit unimaginative.
Mangos, strawberries, peaches, coriander, allspice, jalapeños. Bishop delights in trying a little of this and a little of that, and one of its mainstays falls into this category.
Crackberry, a cranberry-blackberry mashup, features Scottish folk hero William Wallace in full-on “Freedom!” shout on the can (think Mel Gibson). It’s a beverage that promises some punch and delivers on it.
Crackberry pours a brilliant magenta with a spritzy pink head that recedes quickly. It is cider, after all, and even though it is carbonated, you won’t get that same mouth feel you’re used to with beer.
True to its name, cranberry is the leader and provides the bulk of the upfront flavor. But, where straight-up cranberry juice carries its own unique pucker, the addition of blackberry provides a sweet balance that makes it far more drinkable than the name might suggest.
Still, it sticks in the back of your throat, so if you’re expecting that clean finish many beers can provide, you might want to look elsewhere.
Bishop offers a variety of its ciders in cans in increasing numbers and the cidery’s capacity has increased in the last year. The original taproom at 509 N. Bishop Ave. has been joined by a “Cidercade” in the Dallas Design District at 2777 Irving Blvd. It’s a sizeable arcade gallery with a variety of games and 24 ciders on tap. With drinkers forever looking for more variety, Bishop and others like it could see their niche continue to grow.
Best Little Brewfest: For its fifth year, the Best Little Brewfest in Texas returns with 95 breweries and live music in Old Town Lewisville on Saturday from 3 to 8 p.m. As with the past several years, there will be a Professional Brewers Competition that awards the best entries from Texas during the festival. Tickets: $40-$90; bestlittlebrewfestintexas.com
Wild Acre celebrates year one: Fort Worth’s Wild Acre Brewery is celebrating one year in the business with a party at the brewery. For $20, visitors get eight half-glasses of beer — five of which are taproom exclusives — and special glassware. wildacrebrewing.com