A couple of summers ago, Anheuser-Busch introduced the abominable Bud Light Lime-a-Rita, sweet fake-citrus bullshit intended to capitalize on the niche market of people who have spent their entire lives not knowing what an actual lime tastes like. Those sad bastards are still none the wiser, which has emboldened AB to continue the pattern of abuse with this fall's new offering, the Apple-Ahhh-Rita.
Don't drink this bullshit. Don't even buy one just for the sake of curiosity, take a couple sips, then dump it in the sink once you've confirmed that it's as bad as you suspected. What satisfaction can a sane person derive from thinking, "I figured this sucks, and I had three extra dollars one day, so I bought it, and yup, it sucks"? That's not fun or smart. Don't do that. Drink hard cider instead.
A lot of American drinkers overlook hard cider, which is a damn shame. This is partly because the most widely available ciders tend to suck. Magners is far too sugary, and it's the only one you're likely to see at most bars. But just as Bud Light doesn't represent all beer, neither does Magners offer any real insight into what hard cider can be.
When cider first started showing up in bars a couple of decades ago, its few adherents were so glad to have it around that they never developed—or at least never expressed—brand preferences; people who didn't want beer, wine, or hard liquor were happy enough to be able to say, "I'll just have a cider, thanks," which eventually led to bars ordering it that way from their booze distributors. They learned that they needed to have cider, but only one kind, and it didn't really matter which. Magners seems to have offered either the best price or the most aggressive marketing, because they certainly don't make anything resembling the best.
I wrote about fancy ciders for another site in July, so I got free samples from a ton of great cideries. Among my favorite were Reverend Nat's from Portland, Ore.; Foggy Ridge from Dugspur, Va..; Bantam (particularly the Rojo) from Somerville, Mass.; Aaron Burr from Wurstboro, N.Y.; Finnegan from Lake Oswego, Ore.; Farnum Hill from Lebanon, N.H.; and Cider Riot from Portland, Ore. (particularly the hopped-up Everybody Pogo).
Those ciders, and dozens of other very good ones produced throughout the country, can get a bit pricey—some of them approach $20 per 750-mL bottle, though most are less than half that—but they're worth it if you consider them more in the class of a decent wine rather than just a pint of sugary nonsense to choke down if you have a gluten problem or are otherwise trying to avoid beer.
Magners is starting to face more competition at the lower end of the cider market they've long dominated, too. The Boston Beer Company is most famous for their Samuel Adams Boston Lager, but their fastest-growing product is Angry Orchard cider. It's not in the same class as the ones I mentioned above, but it's also not as expensive or hard to find. It runs about the same price as a six-pack of decent beer, and it's far superior to Magners. Anheuser-Busch recently got in the game themselves with Johnny Appleseed Cider, which falls somewhere between Magners and Angry Orchard on the quality scale. It's not too bad. Woodchuck has been around for a while, and they make some decent stuff, particularly the ginger from their Private Reserve line.
If you're looking for an apple-flavored booze this fall, you've got a lot of options. There's no excuse to encourage more of this Bud-a-Rita nonsense. Try some new ciders, both the mass-market ones that are a bit better than Magners, and also some of the artisanal shit that's made with real cider apples, rather than just whatever concentrate the gigantic juice corporations had lying around.
This is Drunkspin Daily, the Concourse's adequate source for booze news, reviews, and bullshit. We'll be highlighting a beer a day in this space; please leave suggestions below.
Will Gordon loves life and tolerates dissent. He lives in Cambridge, Mass., and has visited all of the other New England states, including, come to think of it, Vermont. Find him on Twitter@WillGordonAgain. Image by Jim Cooke.
The Concourse is Deadspin's home for culture/food/whatever coverage. Follow us on Twitter:@DSconcourse.