The Tasting Panel magazine

September 2013

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Page 42 of 162

GADD'S SIXPACK Core Values HARD CIDER IS A CATEGORY ON THE MOVE by David Gadd Strongbow Beer giant Heineken is betting on the revival of cider, and I wouldn't wager against them. This easy-to-find and easy-toenjoy entry from H. P. Bulmer of Hereford, England, could become the apple-lover's equivalent of a cool Heiney on a warm Indian Summer day. A dry entry with a tinge of bitterness leads to an apple-skin-dry mid-palate that's anything but cloying. Bring on the charcuterie! HEINEKEN USA Angry Orchard Iceman Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams, has gotten into the cider game bigtime with Angry Orchard. The brand's Traditional Dry is a serviceable drink-a-day cider, but the Angry Orchard Cider House Collection sports a true gem in Iceman: a Québec-style ice cider made by freezing the juice prior to fermentation, reflecting the process used for ice wine. Deep, rich and sexy tones coat the palate with the very essence of apple, while the finish, for all its sweetness, remains surprising refreshing. There's also a companion Strawman that's oak aged. BOSTON BEER COMPANY Somersby Hard Apple Cider If you like your cider sweet, this is your drink. Produced in Croatia by Carlsberg Breweries, according to the label, this is a sugar-and-cinnamon bomb with pronounced canned-applesauce flavors and ever-so-light carbonation. It has all the depth of a Hallmark greeting card, but there's still a place at the table for a cider that's 4.5 percent abv up from a sippy cup full of apple juice. CROWN IMPORTS True Believer The intensely perfumed, incense-like nose tells you immediately that there's something divine going on here. The ecclesiastical aromatics continue right onto the pal- ate, where this New York State stuff gets busy with tones that could come from frankincense and myrrh . . . but no, it's made from various apple varieties grown in the Seneca Lake area, in the heart of Finger Lakes wine country. Consider me converted. THE STANDARD CIDER COMPANY T. W. Pitchers' Snake Bite For those who can't quite abandon their beer for cider, this appealing amalgam of lager and cider might be just the ticket. For novices coming the other way—from fruit juice to beer—it's an easy-entry ticket to a brewed beverage. Enjoying its grainy-fruity flavor is almost as easy as snacking on a breakfast cereal with dried apples . . . with the bonus of 5.1 percent alcohol. For pilsner purists, it will be neither here nor there, but Prius drivers will love this hybrid. W. G. BARR BEVERAGE COMPANY Moonlight Meadery Kurt's Apple Pie Even though I once attempted to read Beowulf in the original Anglo-Saxon (I got all the way to line six), I admit to being a mead virgin—or at least I was until I popped the synthetic cork on this apple-honey wine from New Hampshire and took my first sips. This one is made from honey and apples spiced with Madagascar vanilla and cinnamon, one of a dozen or so different honey wines made at this revival meadery. It's a different beast from cider, with challenging but somehow hauntingly familiar flavors that take you back to the Dark Ages—perfect for sipping while developing your World of Warcraft avatar. At 16.8 percent alcohol, this one is a Grendel of a creeper, so keep the double-edged swords polished. 42  /  the tasting panel  /  september 2013 TP0913_034-62.indd 42 8/22/13 9:21 PM

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