Prefer fruit to hops, or like to switch it up some days? This lineup’s for you. We tasted four of the fine fruit ciders that breweries will be bringing along in November. Where beers start off with fermenting sugars from malted grain, ciders start with fruit juice and usually go unhopped for a full-on fruity flavor profile but with fizz and alcohol like a beer. Most are made from apples, but these all use other fruits for their distinct flavors. Mussel Inn makes a full line-up of beers and other beverages from their home base in Onekaka. Harrington’s has been brewing in Christchurch since 1991; more recently, their Brotherhood label is turning out several cider flavors. Sprig & Fern doesn’t pasteurize their products, which means that when their beers and ciders travel from their home in Nelson, they should be kept refrigerated. Good George Brewing, a Hamilton operation, makes plum and hopped apple ciders alongside their beer range, and stocks them all in stand-out brown glass “squealer” bottles for traveling.

Mussel Inn
Freckled Frog Feijoa Fizz

Feijoa Cider (5.0% ABV)

This 100% feijoa cider pours a beautiful pale apricot color. With no apples to get in the way, feijoa comes through distinctive, fragrant, and delicious. Well-balanced between sweet and tart, flavorful but very refreshing, the Freckled Frog could be easy to drink a lot of.

Harringtons [The Brotherhood]
– Crushed Pineapple Cider

Pineapple Cider (5.0% ABV)

You’ll never mistake this for anything but pineapple (though there’s some apple in there, too), from it’s bright yellow-orange color and its bit of heft in the mouth through to its straightforwardly pineapple flavor. A bit sweeter than some, but with that familiar pineapple “bite” on the tail end. A great quaff for people who like their fruit with a kick.

Sprig & Fern
– Berry Cider

Berry Cider (4.5% ABV)

Made from apples, boysenberries, strawberries, and blackcurrants, and all four let you know they’re in there. The least sweet of this bunch as far as sugar goes, but with sweet berry flavors that linger even as the blend finishes dry. Intense, yet crisp and fresh. The deep, dark, beautiful magenta color is just a bonus.

Good George Brewing
– Doris Plum Cider

Doris Plum Cider (5.0% ABV)

A mix of plum, apple, and grape. Pours a deep peach color that foreshadows plummy-peachy flavors and an unmistakably soft, silky mouthfeel. There’s sweet fruit here, but also an acidity and good carbonation that make this an energizing drop.