An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but why eat it? That was a realization I came to this summer, when Cider Junction, Silicon Valley’s first cider bistro and bottle house, debuted at the July 29 summer Cider Walk along Lincoln Avenue in San Jose.

Since then, owners Claudia Derp and Tracy Smith prepped final designs for their brick-and-mortar grand opening, which took place Oct. 7. As soon as I walked into Cider Junction, staff greeted me with a hearty hello. The interior has a rustic vibe with reclaimed wood bench tables, while light fixtures hang overhead and a massive Digital Pour menu board rests above the bar, showing not only the ciders available but also the keg levels. A bright green marker notes a keg is full, while light green suggests half full, yellow denotes less than half and red means “hurry up if you want a glass.”

The menu features 32 ciders from California, as well as others from across the United States and even a few from Europe. Seeking variety, I ordered two flights ($12 each) and a cheese platter ($15). Of the eight ciders I tried, my favorites were the 101 Cider House Electric Pineapple; Altamont Berry White, a cream wheat ale with cranberries and raspberries; Aspall Perronelle Blush, a blackberry cider brewed in Suffolk, England; Humboldt Cherry, which comes from the 101 Cider House brewery; and Purple Monkey, which had notes of sour apple, banana and butterfly pea flower. At the end of my visit, I downloaded the Digital Pour app so I could keep track of my favorite ciders. (No judgment!)

The cheese board was more than I expected. It came with three cheeses—Humboldt Fog, Fontina and Gruyere—Granny Smith apples, grapes, cornichon pickles, dijon mustard and a bowl of crackers. The Humboldt Fog goat cheese was creamy yet soft, pairing well with the crackers and Altamont Berry White. The Fontina cheese, which comes from Italian cow milk, had a smooth taste and texture, and the flavor intensity was a pleasing partner with the Humboldt cherry cider.

All things considered, Willow Glen’s new cider house is an excellent place for San Joseans to unwind with sports, food and drink. And if an apple really is a defense against the common cold, we should all raise a glass to that.

The Cider Junction
820 Willow St, San Jose.