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We tried six kinds of cyser — and have recovered sufficiently to write about them

A select group of intrepid mead tasters gathered to try six surprisingly different cysers. Our tasters ran the gamut from mead cynic to enthusiast and the cysers ran the gamut from those featuring simply apple and honey to those including mangos, habañero peppers and Sri Lankan cinnamon.

1) Elemental (Maryland)

Heirloom Cider

Very cidery. Not much of a bouquet. What there is smells like a beer, doesn’t taste like a beer. The honey notes are understated. Fresh green apples. Yummy. Fruity. A nice simple cyser for your holiday table.

2) Bee Well (Michigan)

Antrim Apple Pie

A curiously dry cyser with tones of nutmeg, cinnamon and lemon peel. Tasting companions who enjoyed it detected — much to our surprise — a sophisticated, European, wet foot aftertaste. More feety on the retaste. If not for Rosh Hashanah, then try this instead of your mulled drinks for Thanksgiving.

3) St. Ambrose Cellars(Michigan)

XR Cyser

A very rich, warm flavor, with more than a hint of cinnamon. A bright neon can holds a bright, trashy but moreish drink that brings to mind McDonald’s apple pie from the 1980s. An intro cyser. Maybe drink it while nibbling at a very sharp cheddar.

4) Sap House Meadery (New Hampshire)

Jam Sesh Honey Cider

This had a really delightful honeycrisp apple flavor with a hint of ginger. Like the Heirloom Cider this was very apple-forward, but felt like the New Hampshire orchard was carrying more savory fruit.

5) St. Ambrose Cellars (Michigan)

Grateful Head

This was the most experimental of the cysers we tried. Like its sister the XR Cyser it is bright with apples but in this case the added mango slightly undercuts the honey before you get to the long habanero flavor and aftertaste. It packs a real punch! Not to be drunk before synagogue!

6) Maine Mead Works (Maine)

HoneyMaker Apple Cyser

This is different from the others in two ways. First it has a Star-K hecksher, so it’s not only theoretically Kosher like all of these cysers, its kashrut is actually certified. The other thing is that it has the lowest honey content of all of them. So although it still has some richness (mead makers don’t like the word “sweet”), it’s crisp and acidic, redolent of green apples and in a bottle that is intended for sharing, rather than a single serving.

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