Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Cider Review: Colorado Cider Co.’s Block One and Mountain West’s Ruby Hard Cider

Time to travel out west. For me, I'm travelling with my taste buds but staying in my living room. I chose two ciders from western states: Colorado and Utah. This is my first review for each of these companies. My cider experience has been largely shaped by availability, which means I taste more ciders from the states nearest me. I'm excited to expand my repertoire with not only new cideries but new states!

Colorado Cider Co.

Colorado Cider Company was founded in 2011 to produce fresh hard cider for the discerning Colorado drinker.


There’s a tabbed design that makes it easy to miss that you can learn not only about the company but also their orchard and their take on cider history. FYI, this bottle was a sample sent to me for review.

Here's the official description of the Block One.
This cider is made from the first planting (2013) of eleven plus cider and heirloom apple varieties at our orchard in Hotchkiss, Colorado. We are trying to determine what traditional apples will grow at altitude and produce unique flavorful ciders. We are happy with this first Block One harvest and think you’ll like it too! The 11 heirloom apple varieties are: Yarlington Mill, Golden Russet, Ellis Bitter, Major, Michelin, Kingston Black, Dabinett, Northern Spy, Foxwhelp, Brown’s Apple, and Wickson Crab 8.2%abv
Those apple varieties...I'm swooning already.

Appearance: hazy, bubbly, bright daffodil 

Shockingly bright, I am stunned by this color. It reminds me of daffodils, but perhaps I am still dreaming of spring. The cider is more hazy than transparent, but I can see a fair number of small bubbles. 

Aromas: lemon zest, peaches, tart

This smells mouthwateringly fruity and tart. The scents remind me of crab apples, peaches, and lemon zest. Whoa! My anticipation just flew off the chart. From that crab apple smell, I’m hoping for a high acid winner!

Sweetness/dryness: Off Dry

This cider is decidedly towards the dry end of the spectrum without being bone dry. I’d call it off dry with confidence. It does have some tannins and acid that help create this drier experience.

Flavors and drinking experience: medium tannins, fruity, high acid

The Block One certainly brings the acidity I hoped for based on its aroma. Yum! I like that it’s a fruity tartness rather than something too spiky and austere (though there certainly are days for that). I notice a clean fermentation and medium tannins. I appreciate how balanced it is.

This off dry cider shows its fruity side readily, with notes of citrus, lemon zest, and tart peaches.

But it isn’t only fruity. The Block One also reminds me of green tea with some grassy green notes. This cider is certainly a springy one, full of bright and enlivening notes. I like this so very much!

Mountain West

Continuing the western exploration, I want to share notes on my first Mountain West cider, the Ruby Hard Cider. This intrepid cider company is nearly on its own in Utah, but making a big impression in Salt Lake City. It was founded by Jennifer and Jeff Carleton not too many years ago, but they produce cider and run a tap room. The cider maker Joel Goodwillie comes from the wine world, but all are dedicated to using local ingredients.  I received a sample of the Ruby Hard Cider, and I’m excited to expand my knowledge of what this segment of the county can produce.  

Find out about the company at: https://mountainwestcider.com

Official Description: 
A crisp 6.8% alcohol by volume hard apple cider for year-round enjoyment and everyday get-togethers. Taking its name from the surrounding red sandstone, Ruby Canyon encompasses 25 miles of the Colorado River shared between Utah and Colorado. Ruby Canyon brings together the two states, like Ruby Hard Apple Cider brings together family and friends.
This doesn’t tell us a tremendous amount about production process or apple selection, but the taste will tell us more!

Appearance: transparent, warm straw, no visible bubbles

I couldn’t see any bubbles in this cider, but I could see great transparency. The color is a pleasant warm straw.

Aromas: Fresh apples

Unsurprisingly, the Ruby Hard Cider smells appley, but specifically it smells like fresh apples right after they’ve been washed and cut.  I associate this smell with lots of malic acid. The cider also has some of those dusty and stony aromas I often enjoy in ciders.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This cider perceives dry as promised. It’s more than that too though.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, clean, bright

I can totally see why this is Mountain West’s flagship cider. It’s cleanly fermented, extremely high acid, and fruit forward without being too sweet. This is exactly the sort of cider that many folks look for in a regional craft beverage. It isn’t a sugar bomb or a recipe; it’s simply local apples.

This is a trustworthy cider that incorporates zesty tartness, a zippy light body, and some achingly crisp fruit notes. It doesn’t bring any tannins or a weighty mouthfeel to the experience, but it isn’t trying to be that sort of cider. I’m guessing this cider uses eating apples. Instead, it’s a little spicy and very appley, but in a totally natural way.

Overall, I’m very happy to take a little tasting trip out west from the comfort of my living room. Utah and Colorado ciders aren’t the same as the New York and Vermont ciders I drink most often, and they are very different from the craft beer inspired experimentation I see coming out of the Pacific Northwest. And I’m always thrilled to try something new and fresh.