Friday, October 14, 2016

Cider Review: Rootstock Ciderworks Hopped Hard Cider


Things are pretty rough at Along Came A Cider HQ because we have a very sick kitty. I can blog with a cat on my lap; she's sure not getting up, so I can share a review that has me pretty excited.

 I was at Cornell Orchards for a recent FLX Ciderweek event, and I was offered a taste of a hopped cider that won gold in its GLINTCAP category. The fine folks at Rootstock offered me a taste and later a can of their Hopped Hard Cider. Here are my thoughts, but first a little background on Rootstock.

Like my last review, this cidery was born after a family had been working a fruit orchard for multiple generations. Rootstock Ciderworks is the project of fourth generation DeFisher Fruit Farms in Williamson, NY near Lake Ontario. The cidery was founded in 2012 by David DeFisher and the cidermaker is Alex Robb. From reading the website I can glean a few priorities that seem to stand out for Rootstock. They care about using their own New York apples, but their commitment to local production extends beyond their fruit to equipment and as much local economic integeration as possible and running an extremely low waste cidery. There are a lot of different ways to commit to sustainability and environmental support, and this is a crucial one.

Read more at the site, http://rootstockciderworks.com/.

I'll lead with the official description: 
Hopped Hard Cider is a semi-dry cider made from estate grown Crispin apples and locally grown Cascade hops. This heavily aromatic cider exhibits a bouquet of fresh lemon and pine paired perfectly with the taste of fresh picked apples. With its balanced sweetness and acidity this unique cider is sure to please beer and cider drinkers alike.
And on the front page there's more information leading to the announcement that this cider will soon be available at several Wegmans' stores. Hey, anything for more cider info.
Hopped Hard Cider is a unique handcrafted semi-dry cider made from estate grown Crispin apples and locally grown Cascade hops. This heavily aromatic cider exhibits a bouquet of fresh lemon and pine paired perfectly with the taste of fresh picked apples. With its balanced sweetness and acidity this small batch cider is sure to please beer and cider drinkers alike. Available at bars, restaurants, and stores throughout the Upstate and Western New York regions.

Appearance: brilliant, bubbly, nearly green

Looking at this cider, I notice that it's brilliant with a color like pale summer hay—nearly green! pours with a head that quickly dissolves

Aromas
: pear, pine, fresh

I love how fresh and herbal this hopped cider smells. I also get lime citrus. The overall impression is enticing, friendly but not simple, pears, tons of pine but its really not soapy. Alex and I agree that this is one of the best smelling hopped ciders: deliciously inviting.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi dry

This cider has some perceivable sweetness, but it isn't out of balance with any other element. If I had to characterize the sweetness I'd call it both fruity and honey like, but somehow fresh.

Flavors and drinking experience: balanced, medium bubble, very clean

Lucky for us, this cider tastes like just exactly it smells. There's a tremendously fun interplay of flavors that somehow feel  pyramid shaped: a strong base that tapers toward the acid. The Hopped Hard Cider offers up pleasurable mouthfeel and tremendous balance. Flavors include Tropicals fruit, pear,
 pine, and basil. This has a super clean fermentation. I find the acid medium high (but not ultra-high) and in tune with other flavors. It's just a little sweet but theirs some not quite bitter playing in there too. Hops are front and center, with just a bit of their characteristically grapefruit note. 

Its lightly sparkling, but the bubbles fade fast. Big sips sweeten and darken the flavor with notes of honey—maybe the tiniest boozey note, but no real funk. Unlike some west-coast hopped ciders, this doesn't use a beer yeast. I find this cider both refreshing and compelling. I can taste why it won gold.

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