I've never developed a taste for beer. Sure, I can drink it, but I've yet to find a beer I actually like, especially not from the first sip. Given that some of my best friends are serious home-brewers, I know the failing is in me, not some of the good beers they've had me try. Still, left with the choice of beer or Diet Coke, I'll go for soda, every time. Beer or good Irish whiskey, I'll sip whiskey.
But this post isn't about beer, soda, or whiskey. It's about my favorite adult beverage - hard cider. I remember the first time I tried hard cider; a gaming buddy of mine mentioned drinking a bottle of Hornsby's during a raid. I was curious, so I bought a six pack the next time I went to the grocery store, and from the first bottle I knew I'd found something I could like the way most of my friends liked beer. For a couple of years my selection of ciders was limited to those made by Hornsby's and Woodchuck; the only brands sold in the grocery store near my house. During a brief stop at a liquor store to purchase a bottle of wine to take to a party, I would discover other ciders, and even become vaguely aware of the strange laws in Tennessee that require beer and fairly weak cider to be sold in one kind of store, and wine, liquor, and stronger cider to be sold in another.
It was around this time that I learned that some pals from work had formed a home-brewing club, and I was invited over to my buddy AJ's house for an all-day brewing event. I figured this would be like other parties I'd attended in the past - well-meaning beer-loving friends would have me try one beer after another, convinced that this would be the one I'd love. Much to my surprise, when I was handed a mug and directed to the four tap keezer, one of the taps dispensed hard cider. What had previously seemed a silly hobby, this home-brewing thing, suddenly made so much sense.
Over the past year I've drunk cider in six states and had cider from at least four countries. I've had cider made from apples, pears, and even a mixture of various berries, and I like it all.
What I like best, though, is the cider my pal Les Ault makes. He and his wife Ann make several kinds of cider, but my favorite is their berry cider. You can even get the recipe for it on the blog Les, AJ, and another pal Chris maintain, RocketScience Brewing. How good is this berry cider? It's so good that I wasn't content to simply drink it whenever I could finagle an invite to the Ault residence, or beg a growler. I bought a chest freezer, a temperature regulator to keep the freezer at 40 degrees, a CO2 tank, a keg, and a whole mess of hoses, just so I could have five gallons of Mr. Ault's cider on tap at my house. The berry cider Les makes is, hands down, the best adult beverage I've ever consumed.