Monday, April 7, 2014

Uncle John's Cider: American 150

At GLINTCAP, I got to meet Mike Beck who graciously helps put the event together and hosts so many cider folks. He does so much for the cider community all over the United States. He's also the man behind Uncle John's Cider. Part of his graciousness extended to sending me home with a whole lotta samples! So, I'm thrilled to be reviewing quite a few Uncle John's Ciders over the next few months. This is the best way to really get to know a cider company in my opinion. Try the whole line up but interspersed with other brands.

Uncle John's Cider Mill is a huge destination in Michigan apple country. It is farm, a cider mill, a restaurant, a winery, a distillery, and more. The company has many faces, but the one most relevant to us is Uncle John's Fruit House Winery from St. Johns, Michigan. This is the right part of the website to visit to find out more about the ciders:

Read about the new distribution deal that will be bringing Uncle John's cider to a lot more locations right here: Five of the ciders will become available in the Chicago area before too long, but sadly tonight's cider is not a part of that list. Tonight I'm trying the American 150.

Here's the official description right off of the bottle:
Now that you have come to love our initial line of ciders, it is time to introduce this line of specialty ciders -- made from fruit that is unique in nature, and is not always available publicly. American 150 is a blend of 6 classic American Heirloom varieties that have been a part of apple growing in America for at least 150 years. The apples used in this cider include: Baldwin, Grimes Golden Northern Spy, Winesap, Winter Banana and Rhode Island Greening. Fermented in stainless steel and oak barrels American 150 is an extra dry cider
I love this description because it names the apples used in this particular cider. Several of these are particular favorites of mine, most notably Rhode Island Greening and Northern Spy. The latter lends excellent aromas in spades and the former just tastes like golden summer goodness. One last fact: the ABV of this cider is 6.5%. Nothing too extreme in either direction.

Appearance: hazy, quickly disappearing foam, creamy golden color

This cider has sediment in the bottle, so it must be stored upright. Even so, it doesn't pour brilliant, which in my mind is just fine. I have no particular preference between brilliant, hazy, and cloudy. In color, this one looks like a creamy gold to me. A touch of lacy foam appears as the cider is poured but it quickly vanishes.

Aromas: ripe apples, hints of spice, citrus, stone

This makes my mouth water.  Something about this smell hints at lively acidity and a hint of sweetness, but I'm not putting my finger on exactly what says that to me.

Sweetness: Semi-dry

The sweetness is not the most notable factor about this cider. On the other hand, it is not extra dry to my palate though it is labelled that way on the bottle. I imagine for many new cider drinkers or those who prefer a sweeter cider, this might seem quite dry. For me, I notice a fair amount of fruit character and acidity but along with a little bit of sweet. Just a little though.

Flavors and drinking experience: Some petillance, plenty of acidity, medium tannins.

I really enjoyed this cider tremendously. The level of carbonation is just perfect for enjoying with a meal; it isn't distracting, but it also doesn't let the cider slip by so fast that you accidentally finish a bottle without realizing it. Quite an important balance to strike. I enjoyed the acidity which is sometimes a stumbling block for me. Lots of serious cider drinkers like more acidity than I do, but this showed verve and brightness without getting too aggressive. Medim levels of tannins and sweetness. This is very much an heirloom cider with lots of the Northern Spy and Rhode Island Greening characteristics that I relish.

I enjoyed my cider with too many pieces of veggie pizza, and I have no regrets whatsoever. The American 150 is a well balanced cider with plenty of flavor and character. I'd pair it with heartier foods, especially anything with a creamy or cheesy element. The acidity can really shine in that kind of pairing. As for activities, just eat, drink, and be merry.