Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Cider Reviews: Ommegang Dry Cider and Southern Tier Unfiltered Apple

This week’s post is dedicated to upstate NY at the start of mud season aka Spring. I know it’s here early and orchardists may or may not be able to sleep at night, so I’ll add my good thoughts for a slow and gentle season. A colleague at my workplace (cider doesn’t pay the bills, surprise, surprise) let me know about one of these ciders, and I picked both up at my local Wegmans. Two of our regional breweries have entered the cider market, and I want to share my notes on new ciders by both Ommegang and Southern Tier! 

Let’s start with Ommegang’s Project Cider! Here’s how the website describes the project in general. 
Combining the best of both American and European traditions, our ciders offer fresh, fruit-forward flavors with a dry, sparkling drinkability. Project Cider begins with fresh-pressed culinary apples, McIntosh, Gala, Red Delicious and Pazazz, sourced locally from New York State. The juices are fermented with our house Belgian yeast to add character and complexity. The finished products are clarified and carbonated for a spirited sparkle. Medium-bodied yet notably dry, these ciders finish long and slow, with soft, lingering tannins.
Read more and see some mouthwatering pictures:

Ommegang Dry Cider’s official tasting notes are here, “Aromas of orange peel, grapefruit and honey burst from the glass. Bright, fresh flavors of ripe melon, pear and citrus zest accompany a lively, pleasant tartness. 6.5% ABV • 150 Calories • Naturally Gluten Free”

Appearance: deep tea color, gently hazy, very few visible bubbles

Ommegang’s Dry cider looks gently hazy with deep tea-like color. I don’t see a lot of bubbles, but that doesn’t say much about how this cider will sparkle.

Aromas: Belgian beer, bread crumbs, green and nutty

Ommegang’s Dry Cider offers up a very Belgium beer nose. If I’m not allowed to use beer as a reference point, I get bread crumbs, nuts, pears, and something green.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry!

The Dry is dry! You can now buy a totally dry cider at Wegmans. This is a good thing!

Flavors and drinking experience: Beer influenced, lemon, medium tannins
This cider is very beery. That’s a divisive characteristic, because not everyone likes the taste of beer. But for some folks this will be totally enticing because it’s a balanced profile and thirst quenching cider. I get notes that remind me of corn and other grains, mostly yeast smells. At the same time I also taste lemon and wood notes. 

The whole experience feels cool and aquatic. This high acid cider brings medium tannins and a moderate intensity of sparke. The bubbles feel not like champagne style bubbles but like soda or beer bubbles. They are beefy and big. 

I had this cider with a late night flatbread pizza and freaking out about how much I loved the new Emma. It was very enjoyable. This cider is flexible, you can enjoy it while freaking about whatever you love!

Next up, Southern Tier Unfiltered Apple!

Southern Tier Brewery has now launched Southern Tier Ciderworks from the same location used for the brewery in Lakewood, NY. Here’s the introduction to this new brand from a familiar upstate beer producer, Southern Tier.
Each hard cider is a proud homage to its Western New York roots and features real juice from Mayer Brothers, one of the oldest family-owned businesses in New York State. Local orchards provide deliciously fresh pressed apples that go into each batch of the crisp and refreshing cider. The Hard Cider line delivers a range of big flavor and variety from hazy to bright and dry to sweet at 5% ABV and less calories than similar brands. All Southern Tier Cider Works offerings are naturally gluten free, made with real juice and no added sugar. 
As true entrepreneurs in craft beverage, Phin and Sara DeMink have been on an endless pursuit to bring the most in flavor. In 2002, they founded Southern Tier Brewing Company, brewing bold and innovative ales like Pumking, 2XIPA and the Blackwater Nitro Imperial Stout series. Never satisfied, they opened Southern Tier Distilling Company in 2016 with a range of spirits, including hopped whiskey and a line of canned craft cocktails. They now welcome Southern Tier Cider Works to their family. Southern Tier will always stay curious and continue to find new ways to deliver quality craft flavor.

Check out the website to learn more:

This is not the first time Southern Tier has put their toe in the cider water's. I reviewed their DeMunck's as part of a round up in 2014:

There’s not a ton of specifics in Southern Tier’s official description, but here’s what Southern Tier tells us about this new cider, “Unfiltered Apple Our Unfiltered Apple is hazy and dry from a perfect assortment of homegrown apples. 5.0% ABV”

Appearance: Cloudy, pumpkin, no visible bubbles

This cider goes beyond hazy into full cloudiness. The color reminds me of fresh pumpkin. I didn’t see bubbles in my glass, but they would be hard to see with that level of turbidity.

Aromas: stony,fresh apple, citrus, sulphites

The Unfiltered Apple smells like fresh apples, sweet citrus, and dusty stones. I think I can smell some sulphites as well, but that's a maybe.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-sweet

This is a balanced and highly drinkable semi-sweet cider. 

Flavors and drinking experience: Citrus, high acid, full body

This cider comes across as stony and sweet but also loaded with fruity citrus notes. The Unfiltered Apple pais its medium sweetness with high acidity. The whole thing is balanced and drinkable. Other fruits that suggest themselves in this cider are mandarin orange, ripe apple and pear. 

It’s no surprise that this cider has a fun full body; that’s something sweet ciders do really well! I’d describe the bubbles in this cider as medium in number and size. I enjoyed this with a veggie burger, fries, and mushroom gravy. Judge if you dare, but fries are delicious dipped in a mushroom gravy. This cider was an ideal match for all of that richness  because of the bubbles and acidity.