2022-09-23 19:15:02 By : Mr. Yang Lao

Somewhere between beer and wine is an alcohol option that seems perfectly suited for fall: hard cider.

New Jersey's alcoholic cider scene started to gain steam during the COVID-19 pandemic, and there are now a handful of brewers up and down the Garden State who collectively market a wide variety of unique, appealing flavors.

Some are on tap in tasting rooms, while others are easily available in bottles or cans at local liquor stores. Here's a look at some burgeoning businesses that are worth a trip.

Founded because of a misdiagnosis of celiac disease, Armageddon offers gluten-free alcoholic beverages including hard cider and mead — which, if you have never tasted the latter, is described on Armageddon's website as "one of the oldest alcoholic beverages in the world ... water with honey in it that is left to ferment." Some of the available ciders are made with raspberries and New Jersey blueberries, in addition to rotating seasonal offerings.

Beach Bee also offers hard cider and (as its name suggests) mead, either available for shipping or at liquor stores and bars in Burlington, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Morris, Ocean, Somerset, and Union counties. The newest cider offering is Apricot Sage, while the Cranberry Cinnamon brew was a Judge's Pick at the 2021 Cidercraft Awards.

A quick look at Burnt Mills' Can Locator finds their product can be purchased widely across the northern half of New Jersey. Currently on tap in their tasting room is their own take on a New Jersey blueberry-infused cider, as well as a bit of a collaboration — the "Jersey Peach" with peaches from Melick's Town Farm, which produces its own line of hard ciders (keep reading).

The story of Ironbound Farm is connected to the history of hard cider in Newark, the famed neighborhood of that city for which the farm and ciderhouse is named. Unique to the other cideries on this list, Ironbound also offers a seasonally-rotating, farm-to-table menu that complements its ciders, which come in both a traditional, beer-like form and a higher-alcohol, fortified variety.

Billing their drink offerings as "fresh from the farm to the bottle," Melick's Hard Cider's Semi-Dry and King Street Hops versions were awarded double gold medals in a 2019 blind taste test by "The Fifty Best," according to Melick's website. Cherry, ginger, and lemon shandy offshoots as well as an apple wine are some of the farm's other apple alcohol products, and bottles can be found for sale widely across North Jersey.

Professor's is a name that has gained a following in the central part of the state, available at Sunrise Farm in Robbinsville. A dedicated website for the cider said tasting had been slated to open in summer 2022. Bottled varieties include "superdry," semi-sweet, farmhouse rosé, and semi-sparkling, to go along with seasonal selections.

In addition to "regular" hard apple cider, Tomasello also cans a blueberry variety (Hammonton is often referred to as "the blueberry capital of the world") and bottles a cranberry one, also canning and filling up growlers of a pineapple version at its Hammonton vineyard. Tomasello tasting rooms, however, can be found throughout New Jersey: Chester, Cranford, Freehold, Jobstown, Lambertville, Mount Holly, Smithville, and Wyckoff.

Patrick Lavery is a reporter and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at patrick.lavery@townsquaremedia.com

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