Naked Flock is Jonathan Hull’s small line of Hudson Valley ciders. The company uses only local apples from the Hudson Valley region of New York State. The ciders come 3 varieties Original, Draft and Pumpkin. I’ve seen Original and Draft, but sadly I’ve het to see the Pumpkin in stores. A quote from Hull on the website makes his priorities apparent: "We don't add water or grape spirits, flavorings or colorants and that's why when you open it and you smell it you get a big Apple nose. It gives it a look and feel that sets it apart from the competition." What also sets the cider apart in my mind is their very unique cartoon bottle art, featuring barrel-clad fowl and a confused minister along with the more typical apple-laden trees. The website tells the full story behind the name and the art.
Here’s the official description of the Original, the cider that I’m reviewing today, “The Original Cider is fermented with Champagne yeast and sweetened with a touch of local honey.” I’ve tasted several ciders that use honey at this point, and it isn’t always my favorite source of sweetness, but we’ll see. The ABV is listed as 6.8%.
Color and appearance: almost greenish yellow, just off clear, no visible bubbles
Though this cider isn’t perfectly clear, it isn’t near to cloudiness. No head, no sediment. The color is bright and light and sunny.
Aroma: grape, minerals, flour
Very gentle smell. The Naked Flock Orginal’s predominant aroma is white grapes. The flour and minerals combine easily with the grape smell to remind me of slightly dusty green grapes. Pleasant, but not strong.
Sweet-dry scale: sweet
The Naked Flock Original tastes sweet in a decidedly apple-y way. It tastes light and bright along with the sweetness. That keeps this cider from becoming sticky or heavy. Grapes, apples, and very wet fruits characterize the sweetness. Even so, it may be too sweet for some fans of craft ciders.
Drinking experience and flavors: bread, apples, easy
The most dominant element of the experience for me is how easy drinking it is. The cider is only lightly carbonated. The flavors are well balanced though not challenging. As the cider maker describes his own beverage, apples are the predominant flavor.
Finish: sweet fruits and peanut
The finish surprises me more than any other facet of this cider in that a full two seconds after the drinking is done, I am reminded of the deep south delicacy boiled peanuts. It is earthy, tasty, and unusual. Frankly, I’m glad because otherwise this cider might suffer a bit from a lack of strong characteristics.
Pairs with: pancakes or waffles
At the risk of sounding strange, I want to call this a breakfast cider. Mind you, I didn’t have mine first thing in the morning, but I could easily see it tasting delicious with many breakfast foods. Drink it with pancakes and cooked apples, yoghurt and granola, or even a savoury omlette. It is a light cider in a way that seems more right for breakfast foods more than pastas or casseroles. Make of that what you will.
The cider comes in 22oz bottles, a good size for sharing. Whether or not you decide to take up ciders with breakfast, this is a tasty sweet cider. I’m curious to try the draft since it is described as drier, but this one certainly has its place in the cider world.
Last but not least, I really want to share a link to one of my Twitter friends: American Hard Cider. This website is a really nicely put together directory of American cider makers and cideries with clear indications of their locations. If you want to go cider exploring in the states, this is a great starting place: American Hard Cider Directory.