Monday, July 22, 2013

Cider Review: Woodpecker Premium Cider

When I saw a very English looking woodpecker on a cider bottle at my corner grocery store, I wasn't quite sure what to think. The name Woodpecker only vaguely rings any bells in terms of cider, but I feel like I occasionally saw this cider years ago. The bottle said "Made to the recipe of H. P. Bulmer Ltd. Hereford, England." I've heard of Bulmer's; they belong to C&C Group which owns Magner's and a number of other English and American cider companies. This is a big big operation, not a mom and pop cider farm. Here's the fairly minimal website specifically for Woodpecker:

Unfortunately, it doesn't tell me what I really want to know.That quote saying that Woodpecker is made to an English recipe doesn't actually tell me if Woodpecker available in the U. S. is made here for a British company or made abroad. It took a little digging, and I could be wrong, but it appears that the Woodpecker available in the states is in fact made in Middlebury, Vermont. I'm afraid learning all this has dampened my enthusiasm somewhat. Hopefully the cider will still be good, but the big companies owned by even bigger conglomerates are not usually the most interesting part of the cider world.

This appears to be the brand's only variety. The cider has a lower than average 4.2% ABV, along with a slightly lower calorie count as well.Here's what Bulmer's says about their Woodpecker cider, "The use of the English bittersweet apple provided Woodpecker with a distinctive taste and refreshing drinkability. A crisp semi-dry finish, amber hue with a lightly sparking appearance, sweet fruity aroma and a slight toffee-apple note." To look on the bright side, this will be an English style cider made in the United States. Tasting will hopefully tell me more than my online research.

Color and Appearance: Intense yellow gold, brilliant

Woodpecker Cider showed no visible bubbles on first pour. Brilliant in terms of clarity. The coloar is intense yellow gold. A small foam appeared and quickly disappeared during my second pour.

Aromas: no discernable apple smell, yeast

This smells like tasty sweet bready yeast. I could not smell much in the way of apples or fruit from Woodpecker Premium Cider.

Sweetness: semi-sweet

The Woodpecker's sweetness is a bit honey like, but it's cleaner and the minerality keeps it that way. It really is very balanced.

Flavors: minerally, beer-like, balanced

I hate to keep returning to the same word, balanced, but that is what I'm noticing the most. This is a mild and relatively beery cider. It does give some pleasant minerality, but I'm missing the appliness or tannins that often make my favorite English style ciders remarkable.

Drinking Experience: not super fruity, good level of carbonation

As I keep drinking, I'm noticing the thin mouthfeel on this cider. It is very pleasant and extremely drinkable, but its wateryness becomes apparent by the end of the bottle. While in some ways this is a low-impact cider, it becomes most appreciable as a session cider.

My husband called it a picnic cider, in that it is refreshingly beer-like and not boozy. I'll agree and recommend it for long afternoons spent outside with sandwiches, pasta salad, baked beans, and watermelon.