Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Cider Review: South City Ciderworks' Dry Me a River and Tandem Ciders' Crabster

Endless hot days are cider weather. I know that I enjoy cider in any season, but these last days of July remind me of just how perfect cider is for summer. The most seasonal food pairings just work! I appreciate something cold and bubbly even more than usual in hot weather! And the lower ABV just feels necessary when days and evenings are so long and sunny.

My first cider for today is by South City Ciderworks out of the Bay Area of San Francisco, California. 

I want to quote what the company says about itself, 
We founded South City Ciderworks in 2015 as an urban cider company to make great cider and a difference. Using only fresh-pressed, West Coast apples our ciders are crafted to be well balanced and easy drinking. We support non-profits focused on helping the community, animals, and the environment. We're here to Make Cider Make A Difference.
I had this cider in January of 2017 when visiting San Francisco. You might say that this review is a bit belated, and you’d be right! But when I was thinking about ciders that felt summery even when I drank them out of season, this jumped to mind.

Find out more online about South City Ciderworks and all of the ciders here: https://www.southcitycider.com/

I tried the Dry Me a River at a cute little bar in San Francisco on vacation just before diving into several used book stores. It was a sunny after that didn’t feel like winter at all.

Here’s South City Ciderworks’ official description for the Dry Me a River.

And when the people asked if we had something less sweet that the OG, we said nope - but we'll make it! Thus, Dry Me a River is our interpretation of an American dry cider. It starts crisp with light carbonation and finishes dry but not overly acidic. We use fresh-pressed West Coast apples and ferment with a white wine yeast to retain a light apple nose but create a crisp finish. The name itself is meant to raise awareness for the CA drought and the challenges that face our natural habitat, but we also accept the Justin Timberlake version. You can find our dry cider in 500-ml bottles and kegs throughout the Bay Area. 6.9%ABV

Appearance: brilliant, pale straw, few visible bubbles

This cider is a pale straw hue. It’s totally brilliant. I couldn’t see a lot of bubbles in the glass.

Aromas: fresh apple, freshly washed pear, tropical fruit, cold

I know it’s probably an inaccurate statement to say that a cider smells chilly and wet. These aren’t exactly smells, but something about the dry my a river reminds of not just the fruit notes, but drippy, chilled versions. I can imagine the pear and apple aromas as being fruit just pulled from an ice bath. I’m not sure quite what to make of that, but as I smelled it, I thought such an effect would be amazing for summer.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

This is a high acid cider that comes across as semi-dry. The name may say dry, but it isn’t fully dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, grain, green apple, tea

The Dry Me a A River tastes very influenced by its high acid, but the cider is not twistingly puckeringly tart. Instead the acidity is well integrated. There’s a hint of grain and corn, perhaps from the yeast choice. I appreciate that the cider shows of a clean fermenatation.

In terms of mouth feel, the Dry Me a River has some nice body and a creamy mouth coat. The biggest surprise in drinking the cider was an interesting note of slightly tannic green tea: you can taste it a moment into the drink when the middle of your tongue tightens a little. To end, it offers a long aftertaste with hints of juniper and hops.

Next up: Tandem Cider's Crabster

Tandem Cider’s operates out of Michigan. The name comes from the bicycle built for two that allowed the owners to tour England together in 2003. Nikki Rothwell and Dan Young fell in love with cider there (like a lot of us). The cidery got truly underway in 2010.

Check out the company website to learn all about the cidery: http://www.tandemciders.com/

I have reviews a couple of things by Tandem Ciders before.

The Bee’s Dream: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/01/cider-review-tandem-ciders-bees-dream.html

The Smackintosh: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/05/cider-review-tandem-ciders-smackintosh.html

Here’s Tandem’s official description for the Crabster, “We threw in a load of hand-picked crab apples - both wild and domestic - and pressed them during the rising of the harvest moon to create a dry, tart cider that's guaranteed to make you pucker up and smile. 4.7%ABV”

Appearance: bright gold, brilliant, no visible bubble

This is a truly shining cider that shows no bubbles but lots of bright gold color.

Aromas: apple juice, apple sauce

Wow! This cider smells much like fresh apple juice and apple sauce. It’s striking! I also smell something minerally, concord grapes, and fresh green apples.

Sweetness/dryness: off-dry

Yes, there’s some hints of sweetness to keep it from being bone dry, but this cider all pretty much all acid.

Flavors and drinking experience: grapefruit, extremely tart, star fruit

The Crabster works with predominance of underripe apple giving acidity center stage. It tastes sour, almost salty and brightly sunny but not really sweet. The flavors hit like grapefruit at first, but they then give way to an unsweet version of Granny Smith apple, star fruit, and pineapple. One person in our group noticed some herbal green notes that reminded him of artichoke.

In some ways the style is comparable to some spanish ciders. The flavors are not at all like the cider’s aromas. The Crabster just keeps going with high acid and medium levels of tannin, but the tannins are not low oaky mellow ones. The flavors lingers and seem to get more acidic with repeated sips. The carbonation level is light.

The Crabster exhibits a very clean fermentation. I’d be curious to learn how Tandem ended up with an ABV so low. I got to taste this one twice. Once with a group of serious cider-philes and once with veggie loaded pasta primavera.  It was fun, tart, and light both times.