Today, I’m sharing my review for another cider from Pittsburgh’s Arsenal Cider and Wine Bar , The Cannoneers Bone Dry Sour Cherry. I previously reviewed their signature cider, the Fightin’ Elleck which has since gotten a silver medal at the 2013 Finger Lakes International Wine Competition. If you want to find information about their current offerings, rather than using their website, I’d suggest going to their frequently updated Facebook page. This Pittsburgh cidery sells by the 1 litre refillable growler, and their local tap list grows by the week.
At first I was skittish about even trying a free sample of the Cannoneers Bone Dry Sour Cherry because I tend to dislike most cherry flavors. Even most varieties of cherries themselves. Once encouraged, I will try most ciders, and this one was full of surprises.
The ABV clocks in at a whopping 11.5% which means that our 1 litre growler is a pretty potent sell. I had some very interesting tasting help from my husband and our good friend Aaron (who is usually a scotch or beer drinker). Arsenal ciders are carbonated right at the bar, so I was curious how this one would do after waiting unopened for about five weeks. On to the review!
Color and appearance: deep pink, a few visible bubbles, no cloudiness
I tend to love the ciders with deep naturally occurring color. This one is beautiful. It looks like a sparkling rose in the in the glass.
Aroma: Funky, farmy, fruity
The Sour Cherry doesn’t actually smell very much like cherry. Its dominant impression is resinous and funky. The fruit comes through more as apple core and red currants. Some of our tasters noticed some mineral elements that reminded them of shellac, but for me this has a very pleasant farmy barnyard smell. Many of my favorite English ciders have aromas in this family.
Sweet-dry scale: off dry
Though Arsenal calls it bone dry, I’d call it pleasantly off dry. It is too fruity to taste completely dry, but it could not be called sweet.
Drinking experience and flavors: Carbonized cherry crumble, Chestnut, pulp
Between all three tasters, we got associations and impressions in a few different directions. We each tasted the cherry more than we had smelled it, but between the carbonation (which remained good and strong in the unopened growler) and the dryness, the cider does not taste like fresh cherries. It has a pastry quality, more like a cherry crumble. We also agreed on a warm nuttiness that probably connects to the fairly full and oily mouthfeel. I love a robust mouthfeel in my ciders! I also tasted hints of wet paper pulp amidst the green pear and slight tannic puckering. The Sour Cherry is a cider that is better than the sum of its parts, some of which are a bit weird. The overall experience, however, is truly enjoyable.
Finish: Salt, lime, well water
For Aaron, the finish reminded him of the saltiness of Islay Scotch, but for me it was all citrus and minerals. That’s how I understand tasting salt and lime.
Drinking Notes: The added carbonation remained strong in the unopened growler quite well for more than a month. I’ve been drinking the cider little by little and the carbonation has waned understandably after the growler has been opened.
The Cannoneers Bone Dry Sour Cherry pairs very well with potatoes. I'd be more specific, but I think this cider shows real flexibility in terms of food accompaniment. I'd love to drink the Sour Cherry with an au gratin or with garlic mashed potatoes or even with fries and a sandwich. I'd stick with savoury pairings, but within that category, you can go nuts.
The cider is available in house and at some local Pittsburgh bars and restaurants. I can heartily recommend Arsenal's Sour Cherry Cider to folks who enjoy the funkier side of the beverage. It singlehandedly changed my mind about cherry ciders.
Also, Arsenal is organizing a Pittsburgh Cider and Mead Festival for April 27th!
Check out the info on their handy dandy flier.