Monday, October 17, 2022

Cider Review: Papa Moon's Mango Habanero Cider

Is Fall your season of celebration or one of retreating from the additional hours of darkness? I feel some of both. It is a season of blustery cold and mellow sunshine: the brightest colors and the dying back of much visible growth. I love it, but the newly blue dark mornings feel slow and unreal nonetheless. Yesterday, I took to the roads so I could see some color before more of the leaves fall and are replaced by the more austere beauty of skeletal branches. It was a magical afternoon all blue, gold, red and green. But long nights and overcast days are coming. That’s why when I chose my review cider for this week, I wanted to choose something exciting and vivid.

This week, I’m sharing my thoughts on Papa Moon's Mango Habanero Cider. What can be more bright and boisterous than fruit and spice with the year-round perfection of cider? This is my first Papa Moon Cider review, and this cider was shared with me as a review sample. Many thanks. 

Papa Moon is a vineyard that makes both wine and ciders in Scottsbluff, Nebraska. This farm based cidery recently celebrated 10 years of making craft beverages.  Here’s a little bit from how the company describes itself. 

As Western Nebraskas first craft beverage producer, we enjoy pioneering different flavor profiles and offering unique experiences. Crafting ciders, wines, and mead, we take pride in cultivating on-site ingredients and sourcing from local growers. Family owned & awesomely crafted since 2012

I’m reviewing Papa Moon’s Mango Habanero Hard Cider which won a double gold medal in 2021’s New York International Cider Competition. 

Visit Papa Moon Vineyards online here to learn about what’s happening in the tasting room, see the latest beverage releases and more:

Here’s the official description of this one. 

Mango Habanero

Another fan favorite and New York International Cider Competition Double Gold Winner. Clean tropical mango blended with the fruity spice of habanero peppers.

Crisp, fruity, spicy, local habaneros mixed with tropical mangos and crisp apple cider. 

6.9% ABV

Appearance: hazy, few visible bubbles, butternut squash color

Papa Moon's Mango Habanero Cider pours hazily with a color that reminds me of butternut squash. I don’t see much in the way of bubbles.

Aromas: spicy peppers, lemon, smoke, tropical fruit

Oh wow! The spicy pepper is clear on aroma; it tickles the nose which is just the right amount of spice. I’ve sniffed peppery ciders that get dangerously aggressive in this regard, but this one is perfect. I also smell notes of lemon and smoke. fun. Rather than a ton of mango, the fruity aromas are more tropical in general: pineapple perhaps. There's a round and almost creamy element to the scent.

Sweetness/Dryness: sweet

This is a sweet cider, and it needs to be in order for it to do all of what it does.

Flavors and drinking experience: habanero spice, pineapple, ripe apple, mango

The Mango Habanero Cider’s taste is an inviting melding of flavors. You can absolutely taste the heat and peppery spice. The habanero hits immediately and might even make you cough, but it fades pretty fast. It feels almost like your tongue is sweating! I love that the cider is also fruity and vibrant. 

Papa Moon’s Mango Habanero cider has high acid and low sparkle (which makes sense, as there's already so much action on the tongue). It's sweet—and it has to be, otherwise you'd be overpowered by the spice. I get no tannins, but they'd feel tremendously out of place and wasted in a cider with this profile. The mango mostly comes through in the rounded (even boisterous) interaction of sweetness and acid. They comprise one flavor, operating in happy tropical partnership. This fruit is ultimately the lingering flavor along with some apple notes of Granny Smith and malic acid. It is clean, fun, and punchy.

As for pairings, this competes with the boldest grilled cheese sandwich, and could cut through pizza or burgers. It's a big taste, so it needs food pairings that are similarly outgoing.  I had mine with a pepperjack grilled cheese on my own sourdough bread accompanied by raw bell pepper and apple slices. It was a great weeknight meal.