Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Cider Review: Woodchuck's Hot Cha Cha Cha

Woodchuck plays a big role in my cider history. I think they do for lots of folks. Even so, it isn't quite accurate when the website claims,
We single handedly reinvented the U.S. hard cider category in 1991 through our flagship Woodchuck Amber. In the 20 plus years that followed, we have pushed the boundaries of the cider category while our passion to innovate has mirrored our insistence on handcrafted quality.
They weren't quite alone in those early days, but it was close. You can read the Woodchuck story and find out about all of their ciders on the Woodchuck Website: http://www.woodchuck.com

I've reviewed quite a few Woodchuck ciders since starting this blog in 2013.

My very first cider review was Woodhuck's Winter: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/01/cider-review-woodchuck-winter.html

But the cider I think of Woodchuck's most wintery selection is actually their Barrel Select: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/01/cider-review-woodchucks-private-reserve.html

One of the more unusual Woodchuck ciders I tried back in the days of the Cellar Series was their Chocolate: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2014/06/cider-review-woodchuck-cellar-series.html

My husband has always had a softspot for Woodchuck's Belgian White: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/10/cider-review-woodchuck-belgian-white.html

Another interesting Cellar Series offering was their Smoked Apple: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/12/cider-review-woodchuck-cellar-series.html

And predictably for this hopped cider lover, I enjoy their Dry Hop: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/11/cider-review-woodchuck-cellar-series.html

More recently, I reviewed their Gumption cider: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/search/label/Woodchuck

Tonight's review comes from Woodchuck's Out On A Limb Series in which they try out new cider variations every 30 days. They were kind enough to send me a bottle of their Hot Cha Cha Cha.

Woodchuck describes their Hot Cha Cha Cha by saying:  
Hard cider made with bittersweet apples and infused with Bird's Eye Chile Peppers. The peppers compliment the bittersweet cider apples and bring out a sweet taste up front with a hot and spicy bite at the finish. Lookin' for some extra heat? Grab a bottle, take a sip, and let's do the HOT CHA CHA CHA!

Appearance: deep caramel, brilliant, plenty of fizz

This color reminds me of the caramelization on a perfectly crisped creme brulee. The Hot Cha Cha Cha is brilliant and pours with a delicate head that dissipates quickly. What astounds me as I look at it is how dark and reddish the color appears, particularly compared to most other ciders. 

Aromas: sweet, dusty, honey, and peach

Like many ciders, the Hot Cha Cha Cha smells dusty or minerally to me. There's also some sweetness to the aroma like honey and peach. I can also smell a mildly spicy pepper note like jalapeno. 


So sweet! 

Flavors and drinking experience: sweet, full bodied, maple. fruity, spicy 

Hot Cha Cha Cha's flavors unfold dramatically as I take each sip or swallow. I can taste the sweet and stony notes first. This cider's real spiciness takes a moment longer. That early sweetness starts with a fruity apricot flavor that gets darker and sweeter into maple and caramel notes. I find the finishing spiciness perhaps a bit intense, but my husband and co-taster Alex finds it really nice. According to him its a bit like Mexican hot chocolate. I also taste sweet orange in the mid-palate. The cider is especially neat in big swallows. It offers medium acidity and low tannins.  I find one slightly chemical note in the mix but its easy to ignore. Hot Cha Cha Cha rolls through so many big flavors.

Everyone tasting agreed when it came to thoughts of pairings. This cider wants to pair with big flavors. It functions really well as food cider. We had it with vegetarian enchiladas, but I could also see it with a super creamy mac and cheese.