Friday, February 15, 2013

Cider Review: Newtown Pippin


This is my first review of a cider by Original Sin; they are a New York cider maker that has been around since 1997. Here's their website. They are more known for their Garden of Eden inspired style (including some beautiful nearly-naughty posters) and six pack ciders than special offerings.  I must say their premium cider is readily available, quite drinkable (I promise I’ll review it before too long), and regularly the winner of cider awards. This only makes me more excited to try their more adventurous attempts.

Tonight I want to drink and talk about their Newtown Pippin. Like almost every cider, it is gluten free. The Newtown Pippin is named after its apple. Apple singular, meaning that we have a single-apple varietal cider on our hands! Not just any tasty apple, the Newtown Pippin is one with a long history as both a dessert apple and a cider apple. You can read more about it here.

Color and appearance: lightest yellow green topaz

This cider is greenish yellow and on the pale side. No visible bubbles. Totally clear

Aroma: apple, citrus, zing

Not a very strong smell. A bit winey.

Sweet-dry scale: Semi-semi-dry

Newtown Pippin falls slightly more on the tart and raw side. I found it very hard to decide if this is sweet or dry. I’d rather call it semi-semi than anything else really.

Drinking experience and flavors: loads of tart green apple and lemon flavor

The flavor is not quite sour, but definitely on the acidic side. It almost reminds me of crab apples in terms of pucker, which again makes sense when reading about the apple used. When drinking this cider, I noticed how carbonated it is. I like that quality because it forces a leisurely pace on the cider drinker. With some ciders it is too easily to enjoy them all too quickly and a hearty amount of sparkle can help.

Finish: bright and a bit rough

My husband said, “You can taste it all the way down.” That’s fairly apt because the finish isn’t super smooth. I think this is another distinct aspect of a single varietal cider.

Drinking Notes: goes well with beans and potatoes

Tastes better and more balanced with food than solo. I enjoyed it twice and the heartier bean and potato dish suited it better. The flavors also come out much more beautifully when it isn’t straight out of the fridge and closer to room temperature. As far as occasions, I’d actually make this part of a cider tasting night because it showcases some interesting differences from most ciders.

I’m very glad I’ve gotten to experience a single varietal cider. I enjoyed it. The cider is tasty, good, and interesting. Very appley. What it is not, and I suspect what most single apple ciders cannot be is balanced or smooth. If for no other reason, and there are other reasons, I’d suggest trying this for palate education and development.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Cider Review: J. K.'s Northern Neighbor Farmhouse Cider

J. K. makes a number of organic ciders and represents the efforts of Almar Orchard in Michigan. Depending on who you ask, the J. K. can either stand for Jim Koan or Jim and Karen, and in either case, it connects the cider maker to the cider. These folks take great pride in what they do and claim a continual cider-pressing tradition dating back to the 1850s, something truly unusual in the United States. Their website is well done and full of interesting information. I must admit though that I do have my doubts about how they use some cider terminology like scrumpy. (Maybe I'm just being an English major.)

This particular J. K. cider is their Saskatoon Cuvee; it is made using a mixture of Michigan Apples and a Canadian prairie apple: the Saskatoon. I wish I could find out more specific information on this particular cider of theirs, but I can say that these apples hail from the region of Saskatchewan. The term Cuvee is not precisely regulated, but usually implies a special blend that is set apart from a maker's usual stock. That certainly seems how it is used in this case.

Color and appearance: red and cloudy

To see this much red in a cider is totally unusual. I cannot believe I forgot to photograph the cider. It is beautiful in the glass and would be perfect for creating some romantic atmosphere for that simultaneously beloved and dreaded upcoming holiday, Valentine's Day.

Aroma: sweetly tangy, red fruits, carrot

Lovely and gentle, slightly tangy. The scent of this cider could be described as slightly vinegary. It makes me very curious to see how it will taste.

Sweet-dry scale: Very Sweet

The sweetness is immediate and palpabale. If you’ve tried any ciders by J. K. Cider you’ll recognize it, because it is characteristic of the brand. All of their ciders are quite sweet. Let that be a litmus test before you decide to try it because sweetness as a quality does so often divide cider drinkers. I think the cider would be better less sweet, but I also know folks who would prefer this.

Drinking experience and flavors: thick fruity start, sweet, fast

Cherry, and lots of fresh red fruits. The level of carbonation is mild. This paired with the sweetness could make this a quick, easy-to-drink cider. I like it, but I can easily see how it would be too sweet and uncomplicated for some cider fans.

Finish: vanilla

Beautifully lingering finish, it is perhaps the best thing about the cider.

Drinking Notes: pair with desserts, could be great for a cider float

The whole picture, a beautiful red cider with loads of sweetness and easy approachable flavors, medium sparkle, and a vanilla finish suggests romance to me. I'd pair it therefore with some sweet baked goods like red velvet cupcakes or milk chocolate. Drink it with a sweetie.

Photo Credit: Original photo by Bruce at J. K. Cider. He helped me out since I forgot to photograph this one at all. Editing by me via Flickr. 

As a bonus/apology. I do feel very sorry for failing to take my usual product photos. What is the best way to apologize in photos? Cat pictures. So, without further ado, here is a picture of all of the cats at Along Came a Cider HQ being lazy.