Sunday, January 27, 2013

Cider Review: Anthem with Hops (plus Cider News)

All the Anthem Ciders are created by Wandering Aengus Ciderworks out of Salem, Oregon. These appear under a different label because these cider makers use different apples, including many dessert varieties, whereas any cider under the Wandering Aengus label only uses heirloom cider apple varieties. For more information, I highly recommend checking out the line’s FAQ here.

The Anthem Cider with Hops is a cider I’ve been really excited to try. Hops are an ingredient very common to beers but not at all common in ciders. According to Anthem, these are Cascade Hops from Oregon. I have no idea how the flavor will come out in a cider. The ABV comes to 5.5% which doesn’t give me many clues since so many ciders have similar ABV percentages. The Anthem Cider with Hops sells in a 22oz. bottle for about seventeen dollars a bottle in New York City. It looks like the price varies a lot by location based on what I can see online.

Color and appearance: dark amber

This cider has a notably rich color. This isn’t a golden cider, but rather it looks more like maple syrup or deep amber. When pouring, this cider creates no visible bubbles. It looks entirely still.

Aroma: whiskey mash or wine, fermenty, reminiscent of barrels

The aromas are undeniably boozy but they wander between being vinously fruity or more like the cereal smells of a distillery and the woodsy smell of bourbon barrels. The smell makes me wonder about the listed ABV, which doesn’t usually smell this, potent. The scent is almost three-dimensional; it feels like the kind of super yummy smell I’d like to fall into entirely. Cidery, rich, and deep.

Sweet-dry scale: semi-sweet

In describing the particular sweetness of this cider, I can only use words like dark, rich, and caramel. It offers a mature sweetness that more refined and less fruity than most. Wonderful. The sweetness comes across as understated.

Drinking experience and flavors: smoky and amazing

I was surprised by Anthem’s slight tangy sparkle because the bubbles are 100% invisible. Sweet basket of kittens, this is good. This has a truly unusual rich mouthfeel.  As I drink it, I can discern a bit of lemon but nothing too tart. This is a filling and satisfying cider.

Finish: citrusy, woodsy, and long

I think the hops really contribute to how the finish lingers in the nose. Very pleasant.

Drinking Notes: I want to drink this with everything. Cheese

In an effort to be more helpful and descriptive, this is a cider that really could be enjoyed with a wide variety of foods and experiences. During this cold snap, I’d drink it with chili or a casserole. It could also go beautifully with a fondue or other rich foods. As for recommended experiences, this is the cider to convert a beer snob. Seriously. Invite one over for something appropriately tempting and share this cider.

The Anthem Cider with Hops tastes perfect for winter. But I tell you I’ll be trying it again in Spring, Summer, and Fall. This has to be one of the most delicious complex and yet balanced ciders I’ve ever tasted.

Also in truly fantastic cider news, I've been hearing about a very special get together for cider fans in Chicago, Portland, and Seattle. Please take a peek at the Cider Summit.