Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Cider Review: Jack's Hard Cider Original

We've had days and days of April, yet it snowed all day yesterday. Where did spring go? And more importantly, is this cold snap going to hurt all of the tender buds on apple, peach, and cherry trees? What is going to happen to the fruit? Sadly, I cannot give anyone answers to these questions, but I can sit back and wait it out with a cider. And that's exactly what I'm going to do. Spring will come back. It always does. In the meantime, can you please forgive my super messy candid pictures?

So the cider that's coming to the rescue today is Jack's Hard Cider Original. I met some of the lovely folks behind Jack's Hard Cider at Cider Con 2015 and they were kind enough to send me home with a couple of cans. Thanks, guys!

Here's how the folks at Jack's introduce themselves on their website: 

A lot is read into the word craft or micro-produced. But how many cider companies have been growing apples for over 50 years? Not many.With Jack’s Hard Cider, we pride ourselves in the fact that we produce a hard cider from the ground up – literally. We grow the apples, press apples, ferment apples, and package the final product all from our facility located in one of the Apple Capitals of the World, Biglerville Pennsylvania. In a town that claims some of the biggest brand names in Apple Products, Jack’s Hard Cider was inspired by “Jack” Hauser, who led Musselman Foods into national recognition in the 1950s, and who is the patriarch of the Hauser Family, makers of Jack’s Hard Cider.
You can find out more about Jack's and the ciders at: http://www.jackshardcider.com

Let's start with the obvious; this cider comes in cans. Both Flagship ciders, the Original and Helen's Blend are sold in cans. This is a growing trend in the cider market for reasons of portability, packaging cost, and the popularity of a single-serving sized container. I usually pour my canned ciders into a glass, because I want better access to my ciders' appearance and aroma. But that's me.  

Here's the official description of the Original: "Dry, crisp and refreshing; like biting into the perfect apple. Food pairings: Blackened Fish, Citrus Salad, BBQ, Spicy Salsa, Pumpkin Pie."  The alcohol content is on the lower end of the specture at 5.5%, but there are lots of ciders in that range. Though the description doesn't say, on the website I found an image of a dry to sweet spectrum, showing the Original as just off dry.  Let's find out how it tastes!

Appearance: brilliant, old gold, plenty of visible bubbles

As my silly picture above reveals, this is a very pretty cider. I love the intensity of the old gold color and all of those visible bubbles.

Aromas: powdery, stony, just a hint of funk, cocoa powder?

This smells so intriguing. The original offers up a dry, powdery and cottony smell, like a dry creek bed. It really reminds me of the dry afternoons of summer. I can also detect one tiny bit of funk in the mix, and oddly enough cocoa powder. 

Sweetness/dryness: semi-dry

In terms of sweetness and dryness, this cider is representing fairly accurately in the spectrum graphic. It isn't bone dry, but its closer to dry than to medium or sweet. 

Flavors and drinking experience: Yeasty, clear apple flavor, nice finish

So here's how I taste the Original. There's an initial bready bitter edge that rises at first and then fades into a mellow,appley semi-dryness. I'd bet that the company uses a beer yeast based on the smells and initial tastes. In the mid-palate, I enjoy how this cider achieves a rounded fruity sourness. though it maybe a tad heavy on sulfites. I can absolutely say that the finish is nice; it only disappears in a springy, spritely, zesty way. Categorically this is a  fine sessionable cider, well-suited to a six-pack. 

I'm guessing because of the apple varieties there's not much presence of tannins, semi dry, medium high acidity.

I drank mine with veggie-loaded nachos. I know. That's one of my go to pairings for a cider I don't know. Perhaps I just eat vegetarian nachos too often, but is there really any such thing? The Original works well with cheese like many other relatively high acid yet balanced ciders. Its a nice cider to keep company with while waiting for spring to return. Cheers!