Tuesday, July 2, 2019

Cider Review: Woodchuck / Farnum Hill's Odd Crush and the Cider Lab's Empire Blanc

Now that I’ve moved to upstate NY, I wait for summer every year, thinking about it, looking forward to it, worrying it will somehow never arrive. And yet, that doesn’t mean I’m prepared once it comes. This year that means I didn’t manage to keep deer out of my raised vegetable beds, and I’ve already gotten sunburned twice. I have no good excuse, but I do bring a glass of water and a glass or can of cider with me into the shade while I wait for long summer evenings to walk and wander. 

Just this past Friday, I got a very exciting delivery to my workplace. I’d heard about a collaboration between Woodchuck and Farnum Hill. I know both of these companies; I like both;  both were pivotal to my early cider days (back in 2002) when there were very few ciders available. And the timing of this delivery was perfect. The cans arrived just in time to get stowed in my weekend bag and taken up to the Thousand Islands region for a summer weekend getaway. 

The Woodchuck / Farnum Hill collaboration is called Odd Crush, and the can features both New Hampshire and Vermont on the cans. 

Previous coverage of Farnum Hill includes:

Cider Con 2017: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/02/cider-con-part-2-panels-workshops-and.html

Visiting Farnum Hill in New Hampshire: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-1.html

Extra Dry: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/08/cider-review-farnum-hill-extra-dry-and.html (this was my #1 cider of 2015)

Farmhouse Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/08/cider-review-farnum-hill-farmhouse-cider.html

Summer Cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/09/cider-review-farnum-hill-summer-cider.html

And here are a smattering of my previous reviews of Woodchuck ciders. (There are many more if you look)

Pearsecco: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/05/cider-review-very-perry-may-with.html

Bubbly Rose: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/08/cider-review-farnum-hill-extra-dry-and.html

I am still waiting for Woodchuck to bring back the June and Juice: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/10/cider-review-woodchucks-june-and-juice.html

The Local Nectar: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/07/cider-review-woodchucks-local-nectar.html

I reviewed the Pear Ginger as part of 2018’s Very Perry May: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2018/05/very-perry-may-review-of-woodchucks.html

And I loved visiting them on my Vermont Cider Tour: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-3.html

Here’s information about  the Odd Crush from it’s press release:
 The name "Odd Crush” points to our drastically different styles, which originally sparked the diverse new era in American hard ciders. In VT, Woodchuck paved the way for popular six-pack ciders, sold across the country. In NH, Farnum Hill opened a future for regional orchard ciders in wine-style bottles.With Odd Crush we combine both styles of cider making. The cider has a bright, golden hue that is clear and brilliant. The aroma has fruity notes of peach, raspberry and citrus that lead to a clean finish, excellent with food.
This cider’s ABV is 5.4%.

Appearance: old gold, brilliant, bubbly

This cider looks bubbly and mellow with the rich hue I remember being called old gold. It’s more intense and warm than simply yellow, straw, or amber. 

Aromas: ripe apples, cinnamon, caramel

The Odd Crush smells like ripe apples, cinnamon, and something darkly sweet. The aromas are as intense as fresh pressed juice with a hint of caramel.

Sweetness/dryness: off dry

This is definitely a meeting of the minds, it’s more dry than any other Woodhuck cider and sweeter than anything I’ve previously had from Farnum Hill. 

Flavors and drinking experience: tart, rich, brightly fruit forward, well balanced

The Odd Crush tastes darn good. I am impressed. It’s tart without being pointed. The flavors include caramel notes without too much sweetness. This cider’s acid hits early and disappears before the finish. In terms of texture, I note strong bubbles, medium body and some tannins.

I appreciate this cider’s delightful parade of bright dry fruit flavors. Initially, I taste citrus for sure, but also pear and kiwi. The Odd Crush tastes clean throughout, and offers up a warm bright finish.  The relative dryness makes it special and carries the other flavors with structure and restraint. It’s really quite lovely.

Next up it’s The Cider Lab’s Empire Blanc.

“Science. Art. Premium Craft Cider,” These are the words that introduce Cider Lab on it’s website. This Geneva, New York project focuses on not only their own ciders but working on developing the process that made delicious ciders. For more background check out my earlier reviews of the brand and project.

Empire Royale: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/02/cider-review-cider-labs-empire-royale.html

Empire Golden: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2019/04/cider-review-eastmans-forgotten-ciders.html

Visit The Cider Lab online and learn about all of the ciders: https://theciderlab.com/our-cider/

Here’s how the introduces the Empire Blanc:

An award-winning, dry, hard cider made from fresh-pressed New York Empire apples grown on the golden shores of Lake Ontario. Like fine wine in its balance of tannins and acidity, The Cider Lab’s Empire Blanc is crisp, bright and complex. The effervescence of this brilliant straw-colored cider floats a bouquet of orange blossom and melon awakening the senses with carefully blended fermentations. A refreshing cider experience that pairs well with food or stands out on its own. Enjoy responsibly and share Empire Blanc with friends.
This cider has an ABV of 7.1%.

Appearance: pale pollen, brilliant, no bubbles

This cider almost glows. The color looks like pale spring pollen and it’s totally brilliant. I can’t see bubbles, but that doesn’t mean the cider will be still.

Aromas: Perfume pollen floral

Again, I am reminded of pollen. This is not a theme that comes up in many ciders, but that’s how this one looks and smells to me. It’s very floral and perfumed like honeysuckle.

Dryness/sweetness: off dry

The sweetness is hard to detect because of the extremely high acid.

Flavors and drinking experience: grassy, tart, peach, bright

This cider is so bright and tart, it’s almost shocking! The Empire Blanc tastes like green tea, sun-baked hay or dried summer grasses. It’s not funky but it is herbal and grassy. The cider tastes very tart but not astringent. I how how fruity- specifically how filled to the brim with peach notes this cider is.

Acidity is the defining characteristic of the Empire Blanc from it’s initial sizzling taste to it’s lingering brightness. The Empire Blanc doesn’t bring many tannins to the experience, but it has enough mouthfeel from the acid to feel complete. The cider uses a medium intensity of sparkle.  I had this cider with banana pudding and good company. It was a delicious pairing.