Saturday, October 24, 2015

Cider Review: Awestruck Premium Hard Cider Hibiscus Ginger

The weekend before Halloween seems like the perfect time to talk about Awestruck Cider because a couple of their ciders are like apples transformed by more than simply fermentation! Today I'm sharing my review of Awestruck Cider's Hibiscus Ginger.

Here are a few things about Awestruck Cider. They are based out of Walton, New York. Awestruck is a relatively young cider company. They use an intelligent tone in their prose and use a cleanly modern graphic design to great effect. This is what I found most worth dissecting a little bit from their description of how they got into the cider world.
 But here’s the truth, we got into this because hard cider is a delicious, confusing mess right now and we wanted to sort it out while bringing some new hotness into the mix.  Really, how can one dry cider contain 8 percent sugar, while yet another dry cider is so completely lacking in sweetness it will suck the teeth from your head?  We don’t think either is bad, its just all a bit unclear.  So we stepped in to help out.  We want to guide you and hold your hand right at the shelf.   In addition to lengthy verbal descriptions, every bottle comes with its own set of slider bars to help you graphically decide if this is the right cider for you. 
It sounds casual and zippy, not unlike a lot of promotion writing in the beverage field, but it also addresses a real issue in the market: clarity. I love that they set themselves apart by identifying a problem and offering a solution: a relative graphical representation of 3 different elements of the cider. Yep. I'm curious at this point.

Awestruck Cider also makes a point that they use New York state apples and name a few  dessert varieties, but they don't seem to base ideology or brand identity on it.

They have a cleanly designed website with good information and no clutter. Find it at:

The first cider of theirs I'm reviewing is their Hibiscus Ginger; it was sent to me this spring along with their two other varieties: Eastern Dry, and Lavender Hops. Their brief teaser for this cider says, "We crafted Hibiscus Ginger to excite and refresh the  palette." This makes sense when one thinks about either hibiscus or ginger as ingredients.

Here's the full description: 
As a result, inside this bottle you’ll find 750ml of liquid gusto – a delightfully piquant, refreshingly tasty, beautifully rosy-hued, impossible-to-resist hard cider. We tint our cider naturally by steeping it with dried hibiscus calyces and, for a dash of zing, we lightly infuse it with freshly peeled and sliced ginger root.

 This cider is perfect served chilled, garnished with the fresh slice of citrus, and enjoyed with friends.

Appearance: hazy, few visible bubbles, fascinating orange/pink color

I love this color; it reminds me of persimmons, watermelon, and copper. The photo doesn't come close to representing this bewitching shade. You couldn't read text through it, but the cider didn't show sediment. it just wasn't completely clear. A few bubbles appeared but not many.

Aromas: ginger, spicy tropical flowers, apple

The way it smells like both ginger and flowers, its like an exotic mixed drink, a little apple if you're looking for it. The floral notes though are very particular more like plumeria or orchid rather than rose or lavender; plenty of tropical spicy florals.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

I'm not going to mince words. This cider is decidedly a semi-sweet, but it's really a lot of fun with just little bits of bitter and dark to the flavor. This really is a halloween cider!

Flavors and drinking experience: Ginger, spice, bitter, honey, orange, fall berries

Wow! The Hibiscus Ginger has a very aggressive ginger, to the edge of spicy, with a little bitterness; honey and brown sugar sweetness—a lot like molasses.  The overall effect is like a powerful ginger beer or a gingersnap cookie, but more floral than either. The hibuscus is part of the bitter tartness, like a zinger note or an agua fresca: a citrusy bitter edge.  Notes of orange and peach and tart red berries—raspberry and cranberry.  Good for autumn.  The complex notes die away, leaving a dark sweetness.  Lots of little sparkles, but not overly carbonated. It shows higher levels of acid and no tannins. Neither of these fact should be a surprise.

I paired it with my last rhubarb strawberry pie (rather out of season) and it was crazy good. I'd have it again gladly alongside a veggie roast with cauliflower, brussel sprouts and butternut squash.