Thursday, October 17, 2013

Cider Review: Doc's Draft Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider and Cider Week NY

First off, I have to say that I enjoyed our Finger Lakes Cider Week tremendously. Soon, I'll write up the amazing cider and cheese pairing night that went down at The Cellar D'Or in Ithaca. It'll happen.

The whole experience was fun enough that I have to recommend folks in NYC and the surrounds try to make it to some Cider Week NY events. This Cider Week begins tomorrow (October 18th) and runs through the 27th. There are great ciders and cider makers coming in not only from the Hudson Valley and New York State but from all over the country. Cider Week NY is an amazing way to increase one's cider knowledge and taste some great stuff, including some product releases that are happening as part of Cider Week! Read more about it and look at their events list:

Today, I get to try my first pumpkin cider of the year. I'm pretty excited. Fall and pumpkin things have brainwashed me like they have millions of otherwise sane reasonably-level-headed human beings until I look forward to fall treats all year long. No pressure for Doc's Draft then...

I've reviewed a few Doc's Draft ciders: their original (, dry hopped (, and cranberry spice ( In the first of those, I introduce the brand more thoroughly. You can check out their website which talks about all of their ciders and related products:

The official Doc's Draft description keeps the description of their Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider simple, "A seasonal cider made with roasted pumpkins, cinnamon, allspice, fresh ginger and nutmeg."

In a blind taste test by Willamette Week of a wide variety of not only pumpkin ciders but also pumpkin beers, Doc's Draft Pumpkin had the absolute top ranking, and pretty much the only whole positive set of notes. Pretty impressive, no? Here's what these tasters said about Doc's Draft Pumpkin, "This kicks ass. A little nutmeg, a lot of pumpkin and not too sweet,” and “It really balances the apple and pumpkin—it’s like a hug from autumn.” and “A light, crisp cider that brings back memories of my mother’s sugar-free pumpkin pie." I'm not at all sure about this concept of a sugar-free pumpkin pie, but I'm not going to insult anyone's mom or her notions about pie.

You can read the whole article here:

Appearance: apricot, brilliant,

This cider pours with a head that dissipates into lace then vanishes entirely. The cider has no haze or cloudiness. The pumpkin variety offers a deeper color than most colors, making it more apricot or mango.

Aromas: Spices, nutmeg, clove, mace

The Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider's most immediate notes are pumpkin pie spices: nutmeg, clove, and mace. I can smell them all immediately, even before pouring the cider from the bottle into a cider glass. I'm not getting many other scents, not pumpkin or apple.

Sweetness: Semi-sweet

I love how the spiciness affect the cider's sweetness! This is a cider with some bitter notes and some sweetness that play really well together. The spices definitely take center stage in relation to the fruit, but the apple and pumpkin are part of the sweetness in Doc's Draft Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider. The allspice and nutmeg mean that a bitter, slighty astringent edge cuts through sweetness; it's great.

Flavors and Drinking Experience: balanced, lots of carbonation, autumnal

As I'm drinking, a few different things characterize this Doc's Draft. It is so very very fall and autumnal and seasonally appropriate. The pumpkin pie spices give it a lot of flavor and the apple background combines with them easily and well. I also notice that this is a bit more strongly  carbonated than many of the ciders I've had lately, but sparkle is a great flavor transmitter. Mostly though I notice how well-balanced this spicy pumpkin cider is. Pumpkin and apple play supporting roles to baking spices happily. Unlike some ciders by the brand, I don't notice much yeastiness in the Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider. There are no noticeable levels of tannins, just enough acid to be lively but not distracting.

In some ways this pumpkin cider is a lot like mulled cider, while being cold and sparkling. The spices are forward enough that the cider is not measurable by some traditional criteria, but what makes it so different is what makes it so pleasant. I enjoyed my cider with a sweet and savory baked pasta. It worked well, but I think roasted Delicata Squash, veggie sausage, and cornbread would be even better. Drink this outside by a bonfire before the nights go from crisp to cold. Enjoy!