Sunday, March 24, 2013

Cider Review: Bellwether's Liberty Spy (and blog news!)

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Tonight I’m happy to be reviewing a cider I’ve enjoyed the few chances I’ve had to taste it. The Liberty Spy is created by Bellwether Hard Cider. It is a cidery that has been in business since 1999: located in Trumansburg, a small hamlet outside of Ithaca, New York. The company produces ten distinct ciders. Bellwether is part of a larger cider scene in the Finger Lakes Region of Upstate New York. Since I will be moving to Ithaca in a few months, this is a cider scene I’m definitely planning on joining. If you're from there, please say hi!

Within the cadre of Bellwether ciders, the Liberty Spy is described as semi-dry/semi-sweet. Its apple components are listed as Liberty and Northern Spy, hence the name. They sell it as a cider to bring to people not yet familiar with ciders. That’s partly why I chose it to be my first Bellwether review, an introduction of sorts. It comes in a 750ml bottle, a good sharing size.

ABV: 6.8%

Color and appearance: Quite pale

If feeling romantic, I’d almost call this color moonglow. It hints at springtime with its paleness just on the verge of yellow and green.

Aroma: floral, honey, yet tart

The scent plays between a few different notes not uncommon in a semi-sweet cider, including a sort of floral honey mélange and a lightly sharper element reminiscent of green fruits.

Sweet to dry: semi-sweet

Though Bellwether calls this a semi-dry/semi-sweet, I think it falls a bit more into the semi-sweet category. It opens with sweetness that dissipates quickly. It is anything but cloying; the refreshing zest of this cider is wedded to its light amount of sweetness.

Flavors and drinking experience: green apples

I immediately understand why this is described as an introductory cider. It shows off the pleasant and lively side of cider with ease and power. Perhaps that sounds a bit odd, but the carbonation level is just right. It sets the drinking pace and showcases the cider’s flavors well. The mouthfeel is what gives the impression of power because it is not a thin cider, instead it feels rich on the palate.

Finish: Surprisingly quick

For such a mouthfeel, I was surprised by short the finish is on this cider.
Pairs with: asparagus, nuts, mushrooms

Because of this cider’s balance and effervescence, I’d choose foods with bitter elements and play up the contrast. It could easily be served with appetizers including nuts and cheeses or a meal including asparagus or mushrooms (especially if cooked with butter). The substance of this cider can stand up to buttery highly flavored dishes, but the range is far wider than these descriptions. Socially speaking, I’d choose this cider for a vintage-style listening party. Give everyone a plate of nibbles, a glass of the Liberty Spy, and get lost in whatever music calls to you. 

  
I’m very excited about trying this cider again once the weather is more genuinely spring-like. Even more exciting to me is the notion of expanding my knowledge of Bellwether’s offerings. The upcoming move to Ithaca should make that easy. In the meantime, I heartily recommend tasting the Liberty Spy and sharing your impressions with me in the comments. I’m all ears!

4 comments:

  1. Sounds like a winner! Since the makers are in your new neck of the woods (along with a robust cider scene), do we get orchard reports and cidery visit reports in the fall??

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    1. You can count on it! I think Ithaca will be a great home for this cider lover (and her blog). Thanks!

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  2. Bellwether is one my favorites! I don't live in the Ithaca area anymore (I moved about a year ago) but every time my boyfriend and I visit we HAVE to go to Bellwether. I agree that Liberty Spy is definitely on the sweet side but not overwhelmingly so. It's very crisp, and it's a good intro to Bellwether's other ciders.

    My other favorites from the brand are King Baldwin, a drier cider that's delicious, and Black Magic, a black currant cider, which is TRULY magic! I also find that Bellwether ciders mix fairly well with more top shelve alcohols. I'm a big fan of cider/whiskey and/or bourbon combos.

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    1. You're so right about the King Baldwin. I got to try that one at Cider Week in NYC last October and it thrilled me.

      I've never tried the cider mixed drink experiment, or at least not since the days of Snakebite n' Blacks at the dank dark student pub of the University of East Anglia.

      Any other Ithaca area recommendations, cider or otherwise? (thanks!)

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