Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Cider Reviews: Blake's Hard Cider's Apple Lantern and Orchard Pig Reveller

It’s nearly Halloween, but I am not done with pumpkins, costumes, and horror movies! And I’m not done drinking autumnal ciders. This week I want to share one extra-seasonal choice and one traditional English cider, just to keep things balanced. I’m starting with my Halloween ready cider from Blake’s Hard Cider.  

I’ve reviewed several Blake’s ciders over the years of this blog. It’s a Michigan cider that makes many different ciders in broadly ranging styles. Here are links to all previous reviews. This range I think best introduces folks to what Blake’s Hard Cider is doing.

I’ve reviewed several Blake’s ciders over the years of this blog.

My first Blake’s cider was the El Chavo (habanero and mango) and it’s still a favorite: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/11/cider-review-blakes-hard-cider-companys.html

After a long wait, I finally got to taste the Black Philip(cranberry and blood orange): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/04/cider-review-blakes-hard-cider-black.html

I paired The Tonic (cucumber & ginger) with a meal of asian-inspired dishes: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/03/cider-review-blakes-hard-cider-companys.html

During Very Perry May 2017, I sampled the Grizzly Pear(pear, prickly pear cactus, & elderflower):

Just about a year ago I shared the Snapdragon (rum raisins): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/11/cider-review-blakes-hard-ciders.html

Most recently, I tried the Wakefire (cider with sour cherries and orange peel): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/09/cider-review-blakes-hard-cider-companys.html

Find out more about the company by following this link to the Blake’s Hard Cider Company website: http://www.blakeshardcider.com/

I’m starting today with the Apple Lantern by Blake’s. Here’s the official description, “It's the season of campfires, sweaters & pumpkin carving. Experience the warming flavor of our handpicked apples balanced with the oven roasted richness of pumpkin. Refreshingly crisp & perfectly spiced our Apple Lantern brings you the taste of autumn that can only come from Blake's Orchard.”

Appearance: mandarin orange, almost still, brilliant

This cider looks very pumpkin indeed! The color is orange like the classic fall vegetable or like the flesh of mandarin orange. The clarity is brilliant. The cider looks like it might have a very low level of sparkle because of how few bubbles I can see.

Aromas: cooked apple, caramel, molasses, tropical fruit, woodsmoke

The Apple Lantern smells just perfect for its’ name in that it smells fruity, warm, and just a hint smoky. The cider smells like cooked apples or a ripe apple dipped in caramel; I think that’s the molasses coming out. My tasting companion smelled oakiness and wood smoke but more sweet than sharp. It definitely reminds me of fall and campfires with aroma notes that range from pineapple to marshmallow.

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

This is a sweet dessert cider. It doesn’t pretend to be anything else. It’s luscious and confident in it’s sweetness. I think using molasses to provide both body and sweetness has a really lovely effect here.

Flavors and drinking experience: molasses, creamy, petillant

If you are even mildly amenable to sweet ciders, please try this! It isn’t the usual profile of a pumpkin cider; it doesn’t taste like pumpkin pie spices but like richness, vanilla, custard and molasses. The Apple Lantern is intensely pleasing with its long finish and gentle bubbles.

There’s something so seasonal about the notes of burnt sugar and cooked fruit. The roastiness of pumpkin really comes through. It’s not really high acidity or very tannic, but it has a thick mouthfeel; everything about this cider is just creamy and rich. It isn’t cloying, but it’s straight up dessert.

Now, back to my summer trip to Scotland where I was lucky enough to eat dinner at a place serving Orchard Pig cider on Draught. Orchard Pig is a Somerset cider company. Though the company was started in the early 2000s, the affiliated orchard, West Bradley Orchards can trace its history back to the 1850s! To this American, that’s pretty impressive.

I’ve had this cider before, but it was part of a whirlwind of ciders experienced at the Euston Tap, so I only got a mini review: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/06/along-came-cider-goes-to-england-pt-3.html

Read more about Orchard Pig here: https://www.orchardpig.co.uk

Here’s the official description, “Reveller is a celebration of Somerset! The generous
apple aroma draws you into a crisp, refreshing cider with a tangy note
of freshly squeezed lime in the finish. The gentle sparkle enhances the
flavours giving a light, moreish cider – less bubbles means more apples…” 4.5% ABV.

Appearance: brilliant, warm straw, fine visible bubbles

This is a lovely cider. It had a familiar warm straw color though not as orange and intense as some UK ciders get. I don’t seen any cloudiness and only a few bubbles in a ring around the top of the glass and in a little continent on the cider's surface.

Aromas: ripe apples, bready, clean, nectarines

This fresh and bright cider smells like ripe apples and nectarines. It has a warm and clean breadiness to it that’s very friendly and inviting.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

I’d call this cider semi sweet in a particularly fruity and approachable way. 

Flavors and drinking experience: high acidity, apply, tannic finish

The Reveller tastes as bright and appley as it smelled. The notes of nectarines, grapes and other clean fresh fruits certainly remain. This semi-sweet cider is highly acidic, especially for a Somerset cider. Though I may risk shocking some folks, I would almost call the Reveller influenced by some characteristics of American ciders. It just has that nice tannic finish that comes from cider apples.

The fruity warmth comes through best in big drinks. I enjoy the pleasant, tannic aftertaste, and I’m glad the ABV is only 4.5% because this is easy drinking. I call this cider balanced, approachable, and fun! I had this cider with vegan macaroni and cheese on one of the last nights of my trip and it was perfect with a rich mild dish like a creamy pasta.

I would recommend both of these ciders even though they are sweeter than my usual preference. The Reveller is fun and balanced while the Apple Lantern is just decadent. Yum!