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A cider slushie oasis

Creativity has become the norm in Scripps Ranch

A cider slushie (left), along with a flight of very distinctive ciders
A cider slushie (left), along with a flight of very distinctive ciders

High heat and heavy traffic. That’s what I faced, as a detour led me through Scripps Ranch. Then, with fateful timing, the Newtopia Cyder tasting room appeared before me like a boozy oasis, and I turned in, embracing the chance to spend my time enjoying cold refreshment while skipping rush hour altogether.

Place

Newtopia Cyder

10045 Carroll Canyon Road, San Diego

The moment I spotted the slushie machine, I knew it was the best decision I’d made all week.

Craft cider hasn’t made a ton of noise yet in San Diego, but the handful of creative cider producers who have set up shop are working hard to capture the local imagination. If a cider slushie can’t do that, I don’t know what will.

On this day, Newtopia filled the slushie machine with its Unicorn Blood cider, which it describes as featuring strawberry, watermelon, and “magic.” On its own, Unicorn Blood deftly blends the distinctive fruit flavors to balance the cider’s dry, white wine-like esters. The slushie ice didn’t change that, but did evoke a nostalgia for long summers off from school, updating the joyful iced beverage experience for my adult palate and forever replacing cherry as my reigning favorite slushie flavor.

It was almost a pity to switch from slushie cider to a flight of the regular stuff. Fortunately, Newtopia furnishes a selection of apple wines that can hardly be considered regular. It wasn’t long before I was comparing the Mosaic dry-hopped India Pale Cyder (IPC), one of the cidery’s flagship beverages, to a newer concoction named Cosmo-Hop Smash.

Whereas the “IPC” takes inspiration from dry-hopped West Coast IPAs, Cosmo-Hop takes its lead from a newer style called the milkshake IPA, which adds lactose, a.k.a. milk sugar, to a hazy IPA to give it greater sweetness and somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Featuring blueberry and strawberry, in addition to Mosaic hops, I’m eager to see this boundary pushing pink cider enter the slushie machine. The winey, fruity, hoppy, and smooth beverage tasted at once familiar and entirely new.

That’s par for the course at Newtopia. Along with its usual offering of wild yeast and oak barrel aged ciders, the board featured several collaboration ciders. Newtopia cofounder and cider maker Rick Moreno has been very active in the local brewing community, and I noticed both a cider-beer combo made with Nickel Beer Company, and a cider-sake blend made with Setting Sun Sake.

With so much experimentation going on, it’s easy to overlook the fact that traditional ciders really are the heart of this business. Dry-hopped and blended versions may provide a nice gateway for craft aficionados, but in truth, the dry and fruited ciders here ultimately taste better, and if I were new to the drink I would start with the single origin Fuji La La, derived from Fuji apples, to get a baseline of what cider can be.

Then, order a cider slushie. Because, yeah, it’s made with magic.

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A cider slushie (left), along with a flight of very distinctive ciders
A cider slushie (left), along with a flight of very distinctive ciders

High heat and heavy traffic. That’s what I faced, as a detour led me through Scripps Ranch. Then, with fateful timing, the Newtopia Cyder tasting room appeared before me like a boozy oasis, and I turned in, embracing the chance to spend my time enjoying cold refreshment while skipping rush hour altogether.

Place

Newtopia Cyder

10045 Carroll Canyon Road, San Diego

The moment I spotted the slushie machine, I knew it was the best decision I’d made all week.

Craft cider hasn’t made a ton of noise yet in San Diego, but the handful of creative cider producers who have set up shop are working hard to capture the local imagination. If a cider slushie can’t do that, I don’t know what will.

On this day, Newtopia filled the slushie machine with its Unicorn Blood cider, which it describes as featuring strawberry, watermelon, and “magic.” On its own, Unicorn Blood deftly blends the distinctive fruit flavors to balance the cider’s dry, white wine-like esters. The slushie ice didn’t change that, but did evoke a nostalgia for long summers off from school, updating the joyful iced beverage experience for my adult palate and forever replacing cherry as my reigning favorite slushie flavor.

It was almost a pity to switch from slushie cider to a flight of the regular stuff. Fortunately, Newtopia furnishes a selection of apple wines that can hardly be considered regular. It wasn’t long before I was comparing the Mosaic dry-hopped India Pale Cyder (IPC), one of the cidery’s flagship beverages, to a newer concoction named Cosmo-Hop Smash.

Whereas the “IPC” takes inspiration from dry-hopped West Coast IPAs, Cosmo-Hop takes its lead from a newer style called the milkshake IPA, which adds lactose, a.k.a. milk sugar, to a hazy IPA to give it greater sweetness and somewhat creamy mouthfeel. Featuring blueberry and strawberry, in addition to Mosaic hops, I’m eager to see this boundary pushing pink cider enter the slushie machine. The winey, fruity, hoppy, and smooth beverage tasted at once familiar and entirely new.

That’s par for the course at Newtopia. Along with its usual offering of wild yeast and oak barrel aged ciders, the board featured several collaboration ciders. Newtopia cofounder and cider maker Rick Moreno has been very active in the local brewing community, and I noticed both a cider-beer combo made with Nickel Beer Company, and a cider-sake blend made with Setting Sun Sake.

With so much experimentation going on, it’s easy to overlook the fact that traditional ciders really are the heart of this business. Dry-hopped and blended versions may provide a nice gateway for craft aficionados, but in truth, the dry and fruited ciders here ultimately taste better, and if I were new to the drink I would start with the single origin Fuji La La, derived from Fuji apples, to get a baseline of what cider can be.

Then, order a cider slushie. Because, yeah, it’s made with magic.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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