Monday, April 4, 2022

Cider Review: Rocky Ground Cider's Pips

We’re about 5.5 weeks from our frost-free date here in upstate NY. I remember it like a birthday or anniversary; May 18th is the declared day of reasonable safety from frost for outdoor plants. It’s a marker of our growing season, just like its inevitable follower the expected first frost date: September 28th. Apples and gardens have a lot to do between that set of dates each year. While I think about all the good work ahead, I can do my planning with a glass of cider. Today, I’m reviewing Rocky Ground Cider’s Pips.

This cider was a gift for me from the Tall One. He saw that Rocky Ground Cider is from Maine and was intrigued. We don’t get that many Maine ciders around here. This is my first experience with this cidery. 

Here’s how Rocky Ground Cider describes themself and the cider making process, “Hard cider made with wild and heirloom apples foraged from Maine’s countryside. We forage because the wild seedlings & old heirloom trees offer us flavors that make a cider we want to drink. Each vintage & blend is a mysterious alchemy of time & place; the available harvest, the soil, & the weather of that growing season. We put the juice in oak barrels & let wild yeast do the work. The fermentation takes almost a year. All of our ciders are dry. We do not use commercial yeasts, sulfites or filtration.”

Visit Rocky Ground Cider online to learn more:

Do not neglect to visit the Beasts page!

Here’s the specific description of the Pips cider. 

Pips, 2018, 7.5% ABV


Sparkling, dry. Crisp with gentle tannin. 39 wild pippins and 8 heirloom varieties. Bottle fermented with honey.  Our classic blend. You're gonna love it.

Appearance: intense cloudy bronze, bubbly, some sediment 

Pips pours with a head from the first and toward the end of the bottle, we got some sediment. The cider’s color reminds me of a warm orange bronze; there’s lots of color and cloudiness.

Aromas: tannic, woody, floral and honey

I could immediately smell that this cider was fermented with honey; there’s a floral wildness that only honey brings. Pips brings forth notes both woody and floral. The honey is just so clear on the nose tha I keep thinking of it with each sniff, but I don’t get the expectations that the cider will be sweet. Instead, I think this cider will be acidic and tannic; perhaps a bit of a UK taste profile. We shall see.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

Yes! This is a dry cider. There’s a lot going on, but none of it is sweet.

Flavors and drinking experience: very high acid, tangy, low fizz, dried apples

How very interesting! Pips is all about tartness and wildness.  This cider brings very high acidity to the tasting experience; I think multiple acids are competing here, including both malic and acetic. The notes remind me of cold slices of lemon and dried apple. The acid interacts with its low carbonation to emphasize the sparkle that’s there. Pips’ tannins arrive in two waves—fast and then slower on the tongue. I’m reminded of a leafy funk, like a raked pile of autumn leaves as its first turned over. 

The cider has the lowest of low levels of sweetness, but a hint of sweet warmth blooms in the finish. Again dried apples specifically come to mind. This cider is all about big, adventurous flavors. It’s anything but boring. Drink slowly to savor the tangy wildness. Fans of Sidra Naturel and Basque or Spanish ciders will be very excited for this one. I paired Pips with vegetarian sloppy joes and sauteed zucchini for a simple supper at home. You could also serve it with something cremier and get that acid to work cutting through a rich meal. Cheers!