The spread of microbreweries throughout the country has had a positive effect I take considerable delight in—the proliferation of draft ciders.

When I discovered the pleasures of draft cider consumption, it was as if I had run into an old childhood friend—and discovered we had only truly begun to enjoy each other’s company.

Having taken the time to appreciate various kinds of the stuff, I now pass onto you the knowledge of my explorations.  Many brands are not represented, for the reason that I either haven’t tried them or haven’t been able to get my hands on them enough to form an opinion.

For example, there are a number of French ciders that come in wine bottles that I’ve tried, but haven’t been able to do so more than a handful of times.

I’ve rated these ciders by a 1-100% number.  This represents the chance that every time I drink a pint of these ciders, I get a point of Oh Yeah.  Every point of Oh Yeah can be exchanged for a psychic coin toss to see if the scene you are in becomes Good Times—or you can get rid of a point of Jackup.

Because with every pint your body is dishing out a point of Jackup.  3 Jackups means You Lose.  The body takes over, hope you are insured!

Hornsby’s (Regular and Dark And Dry)—31%
I started out with this brand, and put it through the long haul.  Pretty bleh taste; slightly dry and tangy, a lot like a wine cooler. Once I found other brands, I left this one behind.

Hard Core—39%
A little sweeter than Hornsby’s, but something about the body felt a bit light.  Tried to get into it, and for a while this was my alternate when the common Hornsby Jackups got tiresome.

Woodchuck Regular—53%
Pretty reliable flavor and effect.  Very sweet, almost sickly so.  Clear taste, potent effect.  This became my staple for a long while.  Slightly cheaper than Hornsby’s at the time.  I felt the sulfites on this a lot less.

Woodchuck (Granny Smith, Dark And Dry, Pear)—63%
Switched to these when they became available.  While I like “sweet”, the Woodchuck Regular was too sweet.  The Granny mixed sweet with sour, and really felt like a quality cider.  Dark And Dry mixes sweet with smoky, making for a heartier cider flavor.  Not bad.  We’re finally getting somewhere!

Woodchuck Rasberry—27%
Woodchuck rules, right?  Not so fast!  This flavor was way too sweet, a real disappointment.  Like Hornsby’s, the flavor overwhelms the rest of the cider, only in this case it’s a little too strong.  I’d really like to see a drier version of this, with less sweet.

Dry and bubbly, almost too tart.  I wanted to like this one, but Ace isn’t a cider you can really gulp.  It’s more of a sipping draft, something you’d serve at a picnic or casual dinner.

All natural organic and low sulfite cider.  Okay, this has got some good make-up.  Strong, tasty flavor and packing a bonus round punch.  Maybe too strong for me.  Part of my ritual is about spending time with people.  This takes me out a little too fast for my taste.

Original Sin—43%
Not bad.  A little too much of a Woodchuck clone, cashing in on the flavor and feel.  I found myself not handling these well after a while, perhaps due to a little less quality than Woodchuck.

Lacking much in the way of taste, or feel.  Not the worst, just simply nothing going on here.  This might work better for someone looking for a featureless cider.

Newton’s Folly (Granny Smith and Regular)—54%
Started hitting this at Trader Joe’s.  Basically a less expensive, less sweet version of Woodchuck, with a little less punch.  Have to say not bad at all!  Got used to this for a while, always delivering and very little payback.

Strong, sour flavor but grows on you.  Doesn’t pack much of a punch though.  I felt like I had to keep going to keep up.  Not exactly my favorite.

Maybe the English just know how to make real booze, I don’t know.  Dry, strong, satisfying, but with a slight hint of sweetness.  Packs a wallop up front, and follows up with a coup de grace if you aren’t careful.  I think I’m in love here.

Cider Jack—54%
Back in the day, I used to have six pack of this every once in a while.  Sweet, not very strong, and a little headachy.  Then this brand disappeared and I haven’t seen it in a while.  But now it’s come back several years later, and wow what a difference.  Dry, strong, still some aftereffects but much reduced.  I am impressed.