Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Cider Review: Descendant Cider Company English Kills and Stormalong Cider’s Light of the Sun

It’s hot where I live right now. Too hot. And there are plenty of other places that are too hot right now too. Don’t turn on your oven hot. All the pets have melted hot. Go places just to enjoy the air conditioning hot. I’ve been waiting until after dark to take my daily walks and get my steps. (Yes, I am one of those people). It changes what ciders are the most appealing, so this week I’m sharing two ciders I’ve enjoyed during this most recent heat wave. 

The first is a dry sparkler by Descendant Cider. The one thing about this Queens cidery I will highlight is from the page of the website introducing the cidery, “At Descendant Cider Company we press, ferment and bottle our cider using fresh New York State apples in our blends and why wouldn't we? New York is the second largest apple growing region in the country producing a wide range of excellent apple varieties that we love in our ciders.”

Read all about the company on its website: http://www.descendantcider.com/

I have previously reviewed Succession by Descendant: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/01/cider-review-descendant-cider-companys.html

And the Dry by Descendant makes a brief appearance in my write up of this year’s Gathering of the Farm Cideries: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/02/gathering-of-new-york-farm-cideries.html

Today I’m excited to be reviewing a cider I picked up at that event, the limited edition English Kills. I suspected because of its dryness and particular apple blend that it would suit this monstrous heat well.

Here’s how Descendant introduces it: 
ENGLISH KILLS (7.2%ABV) - 2015 Harvest availableThis dry English Bittersweet cider is a blend of vintage English cider apples fermented long and slow over four months then aged for another six months.  Rich tannins and ripe fruit aromas combine in this traditional approach to English cider making.  A rich golden appearance this cider is completely unfiltered or clarified in anyway.

I have a feeling that some of these characteristics will make for a particularly refreshing choice of cider.

Appearance: deep orange, transparent, few visible bubbles

This cider doesn’t look like most American ciders. The color is deeper and warmer. Those orange hues don’t tend to show up in dessert apple ciders, and this is full on pumpkin colored. The cider is transparent rather than brilliant, and I can see very few bubbles.

Aromas: overripe apples, melons, limes, white wine, and bread

I found this array of aromas fascinatingly complex. I first smell overripened apples, but they don’t show up alone. Other fruits like melons and limes round out the picture. The cider also smells like fermentation by showing facets of white wine, bread, and yeast all in a smooth aroma. Something about the whole is round rather than crystalline. The images these aromas call to mind are sleek and dark; they remind me of mushrooms the best possible way. 

Dryness/sweetness: dry

This cider is not kidding around with dryness. The English Kills is dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: tannic, medium acidity, austere

This cider tastes quite different than it smells. Though it smells plentifully fruity the tasting experience is more austere. The English Kills is very dry, quite tannic, with medium acidity. Instead of fruit, I get taste notes like wild rice, toast, and wood. The name says English—and I can taste why—but this is also New York with that powerful acidity. The tannins linger, and though they add structure, the cider has a fresh light mouthfeel. The texture is shaped by many medium-small bubbles. The English Kills has some astringence which only makes me love it. 

I had this cider with corn on the cob, a crazy loaded salad, and my favorite vegetarian version of barbecue wings. It was a summery delight. 

Stormalong Cider’s Light Of the Sun

Next up, I want to talk about Stormalong Cider’s Light Of the Sun. This is a hopped cider by a Massachusetts cidery. Stormalong combines a lot of nearly mythic imagery in the branding: oceans, sea captains, orchards, a forgotten heydey of cider, and even Paul Bunyan. I enjoy these larger than life images and ideals. I’m hoping the cider will live up to them. 

I reviewed the Legenary Dry in 2016:  http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/12/cider-review-stormalongs-legendary-dry.html

You can read more about the company on the website: http://stormalong.com/

I enjoyed the history section especially. It speaks to Sherborn’s particular relationship with cider over time, including this fact; “Sherborn in fact supported more than 20 cider mills in the 1800s that were productive enough to be taxed.” Fans of cider must check it out! 

Official description: “A refreshing cider double dry-hopped with Citra and Mosaic hops.  We then add blood orange and ruby red grapefruit zest in the second dry hopping addition to enhance the citrus notes.  Crisp.” The cider contains 6.5% ABV (which could be considered a bit high for a 16 ounce can unless you split it). The apples used for this cider include:  Northern Spy, Idared, Golden Delicious, and Jonagold.

Appearance: pale wheat glow, brilliant, bubbly

This cider pours with a head, but it doesn’t stick around. The color reminds me of ripe wheat, with that cool blonde color. The cider is brilliant and decidedly bubbly.

Aromas: hoppy, lemon, dust,

The Light of the Sun smells hoppy in a particularly lemony way. The cider also smells like dust and stone. All the aromas present are mild. I also get hints of rain and lemongrass.

Dryness/sweetness: Off Dry

While this cider isn’t fully dry, The Light of the Sun is close. I’d call it a very zesty and flavorful off dry. 

Flavors and drinking experience: lot of citrus, high acid, no tannins, lots of hops

This cider was made for summer! The Light of the Sun is refreshing and crisp. The hopped and citrus notes play well together and with the high acid. I love how lemony and hoppy it tastes, like some other hopped ciders, it does include one soapy note in the mix.

Though I get some citrus, overall, this cider is not very fruity. It's just fresh tasting! The strongest citrus notes associate with the hops, but in terms of strict fruits I can taste lime. The cider tastes like it had a clean fermentation and lots of carbonation. The Light of the Sun does have a quick finish and a light body. These factors work together to make a supremely summery cider. 

I had this with veggie filled burritos and it was astoundingly good with creamy avocado, sweet corn, and zucchini.