Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Cider Review: Far From the Tree's Nova Hopped Cider

Snow?! That's surprise shows in the first week of spring every year since I moved up north. Even with this mild winter, I've seen more snowflakes than sunbeams lately. To cheer myself up while I wait for daffodils to bloom, I opened up a cider that some lovely folks sent to me from Salem, Massachusetts. This the Nova Hopped Cider by Far From The Tree.

Far From The Tree became a commercial cidery in September of 2013, operating out of Salem, Massachusetts. The owners, Denise and Al Snape say that their love of cider and cider making developed in England. I can certainly understand that!

In reading the website to learn more about Far From The Tree, I found a fascinating paragraph about their process and cellar: 
Located on Jackson Street, Far From The Tree operates in the unheated cellar of a building that they share with their landlord, who runs a marine construction company. The entire back section of the cellar contains an abandoned walk in freezer. Oak barrels fill the front and back sections of the room. It is, Al notes, perfect for them. “It’s wonderfully designed to hold a constant temperature. The Champenoise knew digging 50 feet down into the limestone would be worth it for the same reason. Cider, much like white wine, needs to be kept under 60 degrees and maintain a very steady temperature as it ages. With the insulation provided by the abandoned walk in freezer unit we can very easily do this with little to no energy. I would not be able to make this cider in a conventional space without a massive investment in temperature control.” 
In describing themselves, Far From The Tree veers slightly toward defining the cider by what it is not, "Far From The Tree’s cider bears no resemblance to large mass produced hard ciders. It is not super sweet, but rather dry and refreshing with light carbonation, and tastes deliciously of apples. That’s because the first ingredient in each of the company’s three current varieties is, in fact, pressed apples." Apples are fabulous and the very heart and essence of cider, but both good and bad ciders can come from real apples. Their explanation of natural temperature control during fermentation sets them apart more, if you ask me.

If you you want to see an adorable dog named Fenway, find a picture of him on their website along with all kinds of other information about Far From The Tree ciders:

So today I'm reviewing Nova by Far From The Tree which was a sample they sent to me in the mail and my first Far From The Tree cider. Here's how they describe it. 
Nova is an off-dry, hopped cider with tropical aromas made from Massachusetts-grown Macintosh apples. Different hops work well with different beers but we’ve developed what we think is the perfect hop profile for a cider. This cider is dry-hopped with Galaxy, Mosaic and Simcoe hops, adding an aroma of grapefruit and passion fruit with a very slightly piney palate that marries so ridiculously well with the crisp apple notes of cider that we feel like we just might have done something that beer could never do.
Consider me intrigued, I love hopped ciders.  That the Nova describes both the apple variety and the hop varieties is a big plus. The can offers up beautiful design like almost no can I've ever seen before. Next step, let's open up the cider.

Appearance: pale straw, brilliant, visible bubbles

Wow a beautiful cider from a gorgeous can. It seems almost a shame to hide this brilliant bubbly drink where you cannot see it.

Aromas: lemon, pine, apple, herbs, grapefruit 

This offers up some familiar aromas that I recognize as characteristic of hopped ciders. They often smells so clean with notes like lemons and pine. This has those in spades plus apple, herbs, grapefruit and mild soap. Plenty of both hoppy and appley character.

Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet

The description calls this cider and off dry, but it tastes a bit sweeter to me. The initial burst of flavor has a lot going on, with a hint of sharpness, but the cider smooths out into a clear semi-sweet with tons of tropical fruit.

Flavors and drinking experience: lots of acid, dry start, clean fermentation, nice balance

This cider is gorgeously easy drinking with nice sparkle. I can taste a tremendously clean fermentation. In terms of fruit, I can taste twangy tangerines, pineapple and grapefruit with herbal notes like pine and rosemary. The Nova has relatively high acidity which livens up its semi-sweetness with a drier initial hit that only meanders to sweetness. Somehow this cider tastes higher in the mouth than some hopped ciders. 

Many thanks for Far From The Tree for sharing something so delightfully springy with me. This is definitely one I'll keep an eye out for locally because I think several of my friends would like it it as well. This cider seems like a perfect way to reward oneself after a long brisk hike in the still blustery weather.