Woodchuck began their cellar series this fall, and I'm reviewing the first Cellar Series Cider, the Dry Hop. First a little info about the Cellar Series: they will be released nation wide periodically; the line seeks to highlight several different innovative cider styles. Dry hopping a cider is just such a technique; several different small cider producers make a dry hopped, but this may be the first one that is available in many places. So for some readers, this could be the first hopped cider on your local shelves.
Here's what Woodchuck says about this cider, "The dry hop technique, by which the fermented cider is strained through a tank of fresh Cascade hops, infuses the cider with crisp citrus and pine notes. The smooth apple character of Woodchuck’s signature hard cider balances perfectly against the bitterness of the hops. It’s another category bending cider from Woodchuck." This isn't tons of information, but it is good to know that they use Cascade hops.
Color and Appearance: corn kernel, lotsa bubbles, some foam
This has foamiest head of any cider I've ever seen. The Dry Hop offers rich intense color like that of an un-popped kernel of popcorn. It is a really neat color. Even after the cider's head dissapates, the number of visible bubbles in the glass is truly unusual.
Yes, I can smell the hops, but more I smell the finished product, beer. This cider doesn't show off clear hop distinctions like citrus or pine but just smells like a cold fresh mildly hoppy beer.
If not a first for Woodchuck, the semi-sweetness of their Dry Hop a near first. Enchanting! What sweetness there is comes in at the finish. It is so nice to be surprised in this arena by a cider company that usually sticks to sweet.
Flavors and Drinking Experience: Grapefruit, sweet finish, piney hops.
The hop characteristics come out more in the flavors of the Dry Hop than in its aromas. This cider really does taste so much more complex than it smells. I get strong notes of lychee, grapefruit and kiwi. The Dry Hop opens with a soft floral fruit that is the Lychee but finishes with distinct ruby red grapefruit. With moderate minerals, the cider tastes pleasantly rocky. That aspect reminds me of the Belgian White, but I prefer this cider. Dry hopping continues to be a way for cider makers to win me over.
Overall, I have to declare this cider deliciously gulpable. If you see any on the shelves, get several and have them with the crazy amazing sandwiches we'll all be making with Thanksgiving leftovers on November 29th.
I'm curious about the rest of the Cellar Series releases. Hopefully I'll be trying their second one, the Smoked Apple before too long.