Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Cider Review: Blake's Hard Cider Company's El Chavo

Wow! Mother Nature gave us a great post Halloween gift of nearly a week of unseasonably nice weather. This is November disguised as September, and I'll take it! What this means for Along Came A Cider, is one more chance for a warm weather friendly cider before things turn a bit more autumnal or even wintry around here.

And I have just the cider for it! Tonight I'm reviewing Blake's Hard Cider Company's El Chavo. I cannot forget to say that they sent me a six pack of this intriguing cider and a bottle of something that I look forward to tasting once the snow is on the ground.

Before I introduce El Chavo, we should learn a little bit more about Blake's Hard Cider Company. This is an orchard based cider company and everything happens on the farm in
Armada, Michigan. You can visit their ciderhouse which has food and wine in addition to hard cider.
You can find lots of interesting fact tidbits on their website: 45,600 apple trees in their orchard, 19 kinds of hard cider! Cute videos with history, verve, and vintage flair. Even a jokingly patriotic bit. I enjoy their fresh and immediate aesthetics that verge on hipster irony without ever losing a sense good taste. I love the beards, guys. Don't lose them. We'll need you when we make the Awesome Beards of Hard Cider Calendar someday! (Although the amount of destruction in the 2015 State of Cider Address gave my cider loving heart palpitations!)

Find the videos and learn about many of their ciders here:

You can also find out more up to the moment news and info on the the Facebook page:

To start with, in Spanish, El Chavo means the kid. I wonder what that means for this cider?

Here's how Blake's introduces it, "We like spicing things up. That’s why we put dimmers on the lights in our Cider House. And it’s why we created this sweet, heated blend of habanero pepper, mango and out famous Blake’s apples, Experience a hard cider that’s really, honestly, truly like no other. Experience El Chavo." 6.5% ABV.

Appearance: brilliant, lots of bubble activity, lemon color

When I poured from the can into a jar, this cider formed a quick mousse that did not stay. The El Chavo's color looks like the flesh of a perfect Meyer lemon. I could read thought it easily.

Aromas: stone, peach, mango

The stone and fruit notes approach subtly. Once I took a big sniff it made my nose all tingly; I think this hints at spice to come. Lot of interesting details here, but the smells don't leap out. Drinking straight the can, I think they'd be harder to find.

Dryness/sweetness: semi-sweet

The El Chavo strikes me as far too complex and multifaceted to easily reduce to this measure. Nonetheless when pressed, i'd describe it as semi-sweet. The sweetness is tropical and fruity but never appears without spice.

Flavors and drinking experience: peach, pineapple, spicy, warm, complex

The first edge is bittersweet. There's a lot of fruit in here while the cider is on the tongue: peach, pineapple, and mango. I actually taste fruity veggie pepper flavor as well as the spice of the Habanero. It really tastes in stages. The funny thing is most of the complexity arrives in the finish. After I swallow, three distinct tastes parade across my perceptions. First a spicy kick that swifly changes into a round fruity note and on the exhale warmth. A bit smoky as well. This means taht a big gulp and small sip are wildly different experiences.It actually reminded both my husband and myself of mango salsa. Yum!

The description reinforces the identity of this cider as unique and I'd totally agree. But what's more important to me, and I think to many cider drinkers, is that it is good and enjoyable as well as interesting and unique. There are a million ways to make previously unheard of ciders, the key has to remain in making them delicious.
Back to thinking about the El Chavo; the spiciness is very round and full rather than burning and spiky. That's key to enjoyability for me.

I enjoyed one of these with pineapple pizza and my new TV indulgence: Jane the Virgin. A week ago, I had one with homemade burritos on my screen porch. It worked tremendously both times. If you have even one day of nice weather left, give this a try with something hearty and cheesy to eat.