Thursday, June 6, 2013

Cider Review: Harvest Moon Heritage Hops Hard Cider

I'm reviewing Harvest Moon Cidery's Heritage Hops Hard Cider. This is a relatively new company that just started selling hard cider in 2011, but they've already accrued awards for a few of their ciders. The Harvest Moon Cidery is a small farm winery in Cazenovia, in central New York run by the husband and wife team of Matthew and Juanita, Critz. They currently make eight different ciders, mostly blended after fermentation with various natural flavors and sweeteners like honey or raspberries. Their website has a ton of great information: The most interesting facts I found is that Harvest Moon uses one of the last functional four screw cider presses in the State, a machine that was originally made in the 1890s, not far away in Syracuse. How cool is that?

The Heritage Hops Hard cider is dry- hopped. It's ABV comes to 6.75%. I wasn't able to find a tremendous amount of information on this cider, but what I did find does shed some light on the cider. The description from Harvest Moon Cidery says, "Our Heritage Hops Cider is a tribute to the early hop growing history of Madison County, dating back to the mid 1800s. Using a strain of locally grown hops, propagated from those originally grown nearby, we 'dry hop' the cider after fermentation. It is aged for several months, then lightly carbonated." I'm glad to know about the type of hops and that the carbonation is forced. Let's see how it tastes.

 Color and appearance: unripe straw, yellow-green

The Heritage Hops looks light and bright in the glass. The color is straw with a hint of melon green. A ring of bubbles formed at first pour and again after a few minutes in the glass. Tremendous numbers of visible bubbles.

Aroma: farmy, yeasty wild, fruity

The scent strikes me as a bit vinous. You can definitely smell the hops. They come through as  lemon and Citrus notes. As usual, when I smell a bit of farminess, I get excited.

Sweet-dry scale: off-dry

This cider offers a very wet off dry. That sounds strange, but I'm trying to describe a wet raw tartness that isn't very sweet, but also isn't drying.

Drinking experience and flavors: Hops, bright acidity, herbaceous 

The predominant flavor is capital h Hops! Then the cider expresses a fairly aggressive acidity. Almost too much acidity for my preferences. I can also taste minerals. The last big impression from the Harvest hops is springy, sappy, greenness. It makes it herby or almost vegetal in a super refreshing way. The tartness and acidity make this a slow drinking cider.

Finish: almost tannic and puckery, zingy

Very lively cider that finishes with a tiny zingy bite.

Drinking Notes: best with bready foods

Drink this cider when you have buttered bread and time. I'd choose it for a leisurely picnic cider, for a canoe ride, or for the indoor folks, set yourself up with the new season of Arrested Development or some other large-scale undertaking. It is a very tasty cider for those who enjoy the tart side of the beverage. I'd not use this as an introduction to cider though because the hops change the drinking experience so completely.

I was very curious to try this cider because of the one other hopped cider I've tried, Anthem with Hops. The two are substantially different, but both very pleasant. The dry hopping of cider seems to be something I quite like for flavor and depth. I look forward to trying another of the Harvest Moon Cidery's offerings soon.