Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Cider Review: Standard Cider Company's True Believer

Tonight, I'm reviewing the True Believer by the Standard Cider Company. They are a Long Island based cider company that uses 100% New York state apples for their ciders. As far as I can tell they have a small number of ciders; The True Believer, The True Companion make up the mainstays, but I've seen enough mentions of a holiday season limited edition that I think they've had at least one of those. Please pardon my lack of total confidence in my information, but I've not been able to find out as much about the Standard Cider company or their products as I would like. What info I can find comes from magazines and blogs covering the NY state beverage scene (thank you!) and the Facebook page for Standard Cider Co. here's a link if you'd like to check it out.

When I saw this cider for sale locally, the graphic design caught my eye immediately. I really enjoy creative, visually appealing use of text. The lettering on this label definitely counts! This label manages to achieve some cute old-timey cachet while still being totally clear and easy to read. This is a genuinely difficult feat, so kudos to Standard Cider Company for this.

Of the True Believer and True Companion, I chose to review the True Believer first. It is a blend of Cameo, Golden Delicious, Jonagold, Fuji and Granny Smith apples. The True Companion begins with that as its base, but it also blends in orange zest, ginger, and spices. Starting with the apple-only cider seems logical to me. It is a relatively modest blend of dessert apples, so I know I'll be drinking something with a good bit of aroma, high acidity, but almost no tannins. We'll see if I'm right.

Appearance: dark peach, hazy, big bubbles

This cider looks peachy in the glass, but it is almost brilliant, barely hazy. The bubbles appear quite distinctly: notably larger than in most ciders, even forced carbonation ciders. A touch unusual.

Aromas:  apple sauce, cinnamon, earth

Oh wow, when I smell this I immediately think of the two most aromatic apples I know for a cider blend: Northern Spy and Golden Russet. It just has that rich, warm, applesauce aroma. But I get a lot more than that in this particular cider: cinnamon, spice, dusty minerals, earth, and brown sugar. My predictions aren't terribly wrong so far. Let's see if I can keep this up.

Sweetness to dryness: Sweet

The sweetness is so integral to this set of flavors, I don't want to give anything away too soon. Just read on.

Flavors and drinking experience: mulled, spicy, sweet, cherries

Interesting! Though the apple blend mentions absolutely no addition of other ingredients or flavors, this tastes mulled. I'm sure most everyone knows this, but a mulled beverage is one that has been sweetened and spiced while being heated. Usually they are then served hot, but they can be chilled  back down after being heated and spiced. Obviously out of the bottle and out of the fridge, I drank this cold, but it still tastes mulled. Cinnamon, brown sugar, ginger, and spices just jump out at me.

This cider coats the tongue and has such a massively thick mouthfeel. The True Believer delivers a  strong aftertaste of ginger, powdered sugar, and Maraschino cherries.

Beyond a sweet spiced cider experience, the other aspect of the True Believer that I notice the most is the strong sparkle. If you like your ciders bubbly, sweet and sweetly spicy, then this is absolutely for you.

So, my predictions were not entirely correct. I did not anticipate the apple pie spice palette of this cider, and I'm not sure I can easily explain it using only that blend of eating apples. Overall, this isn't really the sort of cider I enjoy most. I can see the appeal of the True Believer, but for me and for summer this isn't a great match. But, wait for a stormy night with unseasonably cool wind (they sure happen up here) and curl up with something indulgent and fun to watch. A bit of Buffy the Vampire Slayer perhaps? That's what I'm about to go do.