Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Cider Review: Angry Orchard's Knotty Pear

Today I'm sharing my review of Angry Orchard's  Knotty Pear. This is my first review from Angry Orchard's Orchard's Edge series. This is how the brand introduces it, "Our cider makers are excited to continue expanding the idea of what American cider can be. Orchard’s Edge is our innovative line of ciders developed at the orchard." One of the facts I find most intriguing about this line is that they have been developed and produced at the R&D center, The Innovation Cider House in Walden, New York.  Some kind folks at Angry Orchard sent me two bottles of this and the other Orchard's Edge cider, the Old Fashioned (expect that review in August).

I've review other lines and ciders from Angry Orchard before. Here are just a few.

A roundup of Strawman, The Muse, and Traditional Dry:

Most recently, I review the Stone Dry:

"Knotty Pear’s main ingredient is juice from American apples, and also features pear juice, which adds a new dimension to the cider, creating a pleasantly dry flavor. Cardamom imparts a slight spicy flavor. With subtle notes of citrus and mint. This cider and showcases fresh acidity, lasting tannin, and a pleasantly dry finish from oak aging." There are a few references to dryness and one mention of tannins in this description; these will be features to look out for.

Beyond the description, the website also gives some facts. I love having these here to anchor my expectations.
ABV: 6.5%

Culinary Apples: Gala, Fuji, Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and Granny Smith

Special Ingredients: Juice from culinary pears including Bartlett, Doyenne de Comice, and Bosc, D’Anjoucardamom. Cardamom

Gluten Free: Yes

Packaging Options: 12oz bottle (6-pack)

Availability: Year-Round

Appearance: bright brass, brilliant, few visible bubbles

This is a shockingly bold color. I never know what to expect colorwise when I'm pouring from dark glass bottles, but this was a lovely surprise.

Aromas: Powdery zingy fruity smells, Citric acid

Wow, I can smell so much tart acidity in this. It really reminds me of citric acid plus some extra zingy tropical fruit smells.

Sweetness/dryness: sweet

Though the profile of this cider mentions dryness, I found this cider decidedly sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience: dried apricots, sweet spice, green apple candy

The Jolly Rancher green apple flavor comes through the most clearly, but I can also taste rich sweet dried apricots, super ripe peaches, and tropical fruit. This cider offers up notes of pineapple as well. There's no getting around that sweetness, even with the cider's medium acid.

Here's where it gets interesting though. I do notice some astringency and fun mouthfeel. That's not from the pears, but it could be the oak aging. I'm also surprised by how relatively low profile the pear was in this mix.

The strangest thing is I had this cider twice and formed relatively different views of it each time. The first, I had it after eating far too much movie theater popcorn and watching X Men Apocalypse. Then, it tasted sweet yet invigorating and different. I think the sweet & salty contrast served it well. When I had it most recently, it was as an after dinner cider. Dinner had been amazing grilled pizzas and salad made by my friend Phil Sandifer (of Eruditorum Press The pizza had plenty of savory and salty flavors being topped with homemade sauce, feta, mozzerella, roasted red peppers, basil and sun dried tomatoes. But after this, the cider felt much more like sweet apple candy and didn't unfold in quite the same ways it had before. 

If you're interested in trying this cider, I'd go for an intense salty and sweet pairing. The popcorn really did show it off well!