Cider, called “hard cider” in the US, continues to gain momentum as a beverage that rivals the overwhelming popularity of wine, craft beers, and spirits. But cider’s history in America stretches back to its origins.

In colonial America, the beverage was safer to drink than potable water that was filled with pathogens. For that reason, the reasonably low-alcohol beverage maintained a good reputation when distilled spirits were once demonized and prohibited.

Though traditionally made with apples, the American varieties can vary and so suitable food pairings can be as wide-ranging as varietals of wine.

Sampling a dry cider that’s reminiscent of a lager or sauvignon blanc, think of light complex options like roasted vegetables that are subtly sweet on the inside but slightly smoky—carrots, Brussel sprouts, broccoli. 

Lara Worm of Bivouac Ciderworks also suggests salty tastes like seafood, feta cheese, hummus, and pita. “The kind of things you’d pair with a lovely day drinking wine,” she says. 

If you prefer a sweeter cider that’s really more of a low carbonation fruit wine in disguise, go with stronger flavors like cured meats, chocolate, and hard cheeses.

A cheese board with prosciutto, salami, pickles, grilled bread, and fruit preserves would be a great compliment for a sweeter cider.

A pear cider works well with traditional fish and chips, lightly sweet marrying well with a textured salty dish, even if a cider made from pears would not fit the legal definition in the U.K.

And American ciders made from berries are typically great with dessert. The berry offerings can range from semi-dry to jammy but either is a great compliment to after-dinner menu options, particularly a rich and creamy cheesecake.

If you’re not a dessert fan, you could also pair a berry-forward cider with soft goat cheese for a similar vibe, or skip the lactose altogether and munch some almonds, pecans, hazelnuts, and dark chocolate.

And by all means, take a tip from the rule book of the American cider industry—experiment! After all, that brew might have anything from black currants and blueberry to a blend of Pink Lady and Granny Smith apples. 

Nibble and sip your way through a well-stocked charcuterie board to start and don’t forget the soft pretzels. Every cider bar offers flights and that’s your best bet to explore what flavors best suit your taste buds. 

Once you settle on the brew—apple, pear, or another and dry, semi-sweet, or saccharine—you can dive into the menu thoroughly. 

Like the grapes in wine varieties don’t discount the fruit. Use it to guide you not to stop you. After all, pineapple goes well with ham, but it also brightens salmon or pan-fried tofu.

Edible San Diego Issue 67 Fall 2022
Cover image: Lauren Di Matteo.

More to This Story

Lara Worm Bivouac Ciderworks talks flavor inspiration in the fall 2022 issue.

About the Contributor
Debra Bass
Debra Bass became foodie famous with a story on savory oatmeal more than a decade ago that was published in a slew of US and international newspapers. She enjoys exploring the San Diego healthy food scene, but indulges in worthwhile guilty pleasures.