Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cider Review: Hogan's Medium Dry Cider


I'm still catching up with a few reviews of ciders I tasted over the holidays; I beg you to bear with my more spontaneous  and imperfect photography. I finally got to try a Hogan's cider on New Year's Eve with some good friends. Sadly most of the location was a bit too dim to get a good picture, so I snuck into a commercial kitchen with giant florescent lights to snap a quick picture of the bottle and label.  I really like this label. It has graphic clarity and simplicity in a way that makes it look totally fresh and contemporary without looking like it will be dated in a few months or years. Good labels and graphic design are far more rare in the cider world than they should be, but Hogan's obviously doesn't have that problem.

Hogans is an English cider company whose ciders I've only recently started seeing on a few shelves in Ithaca. They have a great website at: http://www.hoganscider.co.uk/, I praise it because of its design clarity and depth of information. This page especially, http://www.hoganscider.co.uk/how-its-made, that discussed their specific cider-making process brings visitors deep into the whole cider making process. An excellent resource.

Tonight's review covers their Medium Dry Cider. When reading on Hogan's site about their ciders I found two relevant sections of description. This first one talks about their general cidermaking and materials, "Hogan’s Bottled Cider is fermented from only 100% fresh pressed English cider apples. Our cider tastes so good because we do not use apple concentrate and we do not add any sugars prior to fermentation. Containing more than 85% cider apple juice our premium bottled cider is made only from fresh pressed cider fruit and precious little else. Hogan’s bottled cider brings you the authentic taste of the English orchard."

Hogan's Medium Cider has an abv of 5.4% which makes it a bit low in comparison to United States craft producers but right on par with many of their UK peers.

The specific tasting notes for the Medium Dry give great detail, "Hogan’s Medium Bottled Cider is golden, well balanced, slightly sparkling cider with caramel, butterscotch and dried fruit aromas." Since they mention butterscotch, I'm anticipating some woodiness. One of the things I've learned is that what tastes very much like wood to me can taste like butter, toastiness, butterscotch, or vanilla to many other tasters, especially wine lovers.

The website follows its tasting notes with a list of awards that could put American Hustle to shame. Apologies for my silly film awards season joke, but I couldn't resist! But all goofiness aside, I've been hearing good things about Hogan's online for months and months before I actually found a bottle to try.

Appearance: hazy, deep color

Hogan's Medium Dry Cider pours a deep maple syrup color. It's clarity is hazy. I wish I had a photo of this cider in an elegant glass, but I'm not yet to the point of bringing my own glassware to parties to photograph ciders. I make no bets on how long it will be before we reach that point.

Aromas: applesauce, mulch, hint of barnyard

Wow, this cider is very aromatic. At first I can smell fresh warm applesauce. The scent is extremely fresh. Secondarily Hogan's Medium Dry Cider smells of wood and mulch. Somehow it smells English. One small note of farminess rounds everything out very pleasantly. Lots of complex scents but a very nice whole picture.

Sweetness: Semi-dry

Though the bottle uses a specific term, Medium Dry, I'll be bold enough to translate it into my own dry/sweet scale. By that measure this is a semi-dry. The sweetness reminds me of toasted nuts; it is subtle and warm. I like. a lot.

Flavors and drinking experience: This tastes oaked to an intense degree. The abv is  5.4 but it tastes boozier and yet not heavy. Hogan's Medium Dry cider offers low acidity and high tannins. That is a quick way to win my heart. What sweetness I can detect reminds me just a bit of  slighty sugared warm almonds in that it tastes Sweet then immediately woody. In terms of mouthfeel, it is more clean and watery with a mineral effect. Almost a still cider, but with a hint of effervescence.

This is a thinking cider, not to be consumed too quickly or thoughtlessly. I'd drink it while catching up with friends or when testing out some new ideas. In terms of food, pair it with warm flavors and some richness. Perhaps winter squash or pasta with a cream sauce. There are near infinite good choices for what to eat alongside this cider, especially hearty winter foods. Choose boldly and with confidence! Hogan's Medium Dry Cider will not let you down.

 Just a picture of my frosted windowsill to show the atmosphere in which I've been doing my tastings lately. Beautiful but cold. 

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