August 31, 2012

Gluten-Free Hard Cider in Boulder

By Evan Sandsmark -  

Recently, we went on a hunt for gluten-free beer in Boulder. We found several gluten-free beers at one of Boulder’s premier liquor stores – Liquor Mart – and we noted that many restaurants and bars around town also have at least one gluten-free beer offering. In addition to gluten-free beer, and on occasion in place of it, many of these establishments have gluten-free hard ciders on sale too. Obviously, hard cider isn’t beer, but it’s nevertheless an excellent beverage with many of the same virtues as beer. Hard ciders and beers are refreshing drinks with comparable alcohol content levels that are served in similar quantities, making them fitting for the same sorts of occasions (watching sports, lounging with friends on a hot afternoon, showering, etc.). In light of these and similar facts, and in recognition of the problem that the gluten-free diet can place certain limitations on one’s drinking career, we decided to write about gluten-free hard cider in Boulder. We’re ever eager to help our readers embrace gluten-free living (and we’re equally eager to have a drink “for work”).

In the course of gathering supplies for our gluten-free beer article, we also decided to pick up a hard cider. We were able to get both at Liquor Mart, the large liquor store in the middle of Boulder on the corner of 15th and Canyon. It was the largest liquor store in town until a few months ago, when Hazel’s Beverage World opened on 28th Street, a development that the good folks at Liquor Mart aren’t particularly excited about. We asked Liquor Mart’s ID checker his thoughts on Hazel’s, to which he replied he had no comment. Technically, he had no comment, but he did have a question: “does Boulder really need another liquor store?” It’s a reasonable point, but one that doesn’t really concern us at the moment.

At Liquor Mart, the gluten-free beers and hard ciders are in cooler 21, which is approximately in the middle of the long row of coolers on the right side of the store (relative to a person facing the back). Although this cooler has all the gluten-free beers and hard ciders in the store, which is convenient, it is not composed entirely of gluten-free options, as there are a few organic beers that contain gluten in this refrigerated section of the store too. So, keep this in mind if something catches your eye from this cooler – make sure what you’re buying is actually gluten-free.

Since we went to Liquor Mart with the intention of getting gluten-free beer, but not hard cider, we didn’t take a precise inventory of the options available. As we recall, though, there were several hard ciders to choose from, including Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider, which is what we bought, and Woodchuck Hard Cider, a drink that some restaurants around town carry instead of a gluten-free beer. Although beer is undoubtedly a more common drink than hard cider, hard ciders are more often gluten-free. Indeed, a large percentage of hard ciders are naturally gluten-free because many (but not all!) are made with apples instead of wheat, rye, or barley. This perhaps explains why some establishments around town have a gluten-free hard cider on offer, but not a gluten-free beer.

The cider we bought is not only gluten-free, but also organic and vegan, so it can basically be consumed by anyone who isn’t allergic to alcohol itself. It’s made, as mentioned, by Samuel Smith, which is the oldest Brewery in Yorkshire, the largest county in the United Kingdom. The cider is served in 550 milliliter bottles (about 19 ounces), making it a hearty swig more than the standard half liter serving so prevalent around the globe. We ended up cherishing this extra hearty swig because Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider, to use its full name, is an excellent beverage. The cider has a crisp apple flavor, but it’s also fairly dry and therefore not particularly sweet. This is a virtue because if it were sweeter, it would just taste like sparkling apple juice, and we didn’t want sparkling apple juice – we wanted hard cider.

In the interest of full disclosure, we must confess that we don’t drink a lot of hard cider. Consequently, we don’t have a robust cider-drinking background to measure our selection against. However, we know a good drink when we try one, and Samuel Smith is definitely good. Hard cider can never replace beer, but at least tons of ciders are gluten-free, and they can sometimes hit the spot in the same way that a beer can. There is just something satisfying about the feeling of cold bottle in your hand, regardless of what’s in the bottle.

If you now feel like a hard cider, check out Liquor Mart‘s (or another liquor store’s) selection, or check out the drink menus of your favorite restaurants online to see if they offer hard cider. You’d be surprised at how many places have hard cider, and more often than not they’re gluten-free.

Read Next Article » Gluten-Free Certification: Who or What Certifies Food and Drinks as Gluten-Free?
Previous Article « Where to Find Gluten-Free Beer in Boulder

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