Thursday, July 21, 2016

Cider Review Roundup: Common Cider Co. Hibiscus Saison, Finn River Dry Hopped, Two Towns Bright Cider, and Henney's Dry Cider

When kids come back from school, one always imagines them writing the essay, "What I did on Summer Vacation." Though summer isn't over yet, I only had one big bit of travel in my summer. This three day vacation was spent doing Family Reunion with my husband's very entertaining family on Lake Tahoe. This is how it looked.

But you guys don't want to hear about that! You're here to read about cider, so I'm going to share with you what I drank on summer vacation!

To be more specific, I explored a local beverage place between the airport and the lodge and picked up a few things I'd not seen before. These are ciders I cannot find easily in New York. Some family members were interested in trying some ciders, so we set up an informal tasting. I had no idea how many folks would be interested or I would have gone a lot more crazy in the store. But that simply tells me that people who aren't committed cider folks are still really excited to experiment with new tasty beverages, and that is a very good thing.

Cider #1: Hibiscus Saison

Common Cider Co.

Official description: "Hibiscus Saison pours a rosy red color with a bubbly head. The aroma is light & floral with hints of sweet apples and hibiscus."

Aromas: Peach and citrus, dark acidity, strong smell of fresh green wood, a nice note of mineral

Flavors and drinking experience: sweet, acidic, easy drinking, fun. Some folks tasted a bit of funk on the nose initially, but it fades fast. We all found this cider sweet, and the saison yeast is very subtle. Our beer expert at the table (of Latitude 42) said he couldn't taste it. It has very high acid, owing to some degree from hibiscus. A few tasters noted a juicy tea aftertaste; this is Red Zinger, the cider. It had a light mouthfeel with no tannins.

Cider #2: Dry Hopped

Finn River

Official description: "Bright cider, made with heirloom and organic dessert apples, blended with the bold citrus tang of organic Cascade hops. Some say it's like sipping a meadow; some say it's like chewing on grass. A hopped adventure. Alcohol content 6.5%. Dry."

Aromas: very hoppy, bits of grapefruit, lychee, green apple a whole hop smell

Flavors and drinking experience: We can definitely taste grass and green tea; the cider is floral and very fresh. I found it off-dry. The hops have some astringent qualities in a pleasant way. This has medium tannins and high acid, high enough to cause significant salivary gland response. In terms of texture, there's just a little bubble; petillant. I did taste some rhubarb notes.

Cider #3: Bright Cider
Two Towns

Official Description: "Clean and crisp, The BrightCider is made exclusively with fresh-pressed NW apples. BrightCider, always a bright idea!"

Aromas: A note of sulfites—it blows off. We all found it minerally and bright indeed! The smell reminded most of a freshly-bitten Granny Smith; just a dash of green apple candy though.

Flavors and drinking experience: The Bright cider tastes sweet, with very high acid; the malic acid is very strong. I noticed a pronounced lemonade aftertaste. Alex described a wet mouthfeel. Others found it Somewhat soda-like; gentle carbonation.

My favorite 2 Towns is still their Hop and Stalk which I reviewed back in 2014:

Cider#4: Dry Cider

Official description: "Henneys Dry Cider is our best selling cider. Smooth, light and refreshing. Sweet, appley aroma. Palate has a delicious bittersweet apple character with some spicy bite and a bit of a tannic grip. Very fruity and quite pure, with a nice savoury twist."

Aromas: We noticed all sorts of things. I'll just let the list speak for itself: fresh tobacco, caramel, very ripe apples, kim chi, fruit esters, funk, sun-warmed hay, rawmilk goatcheese, the freshly washed feet of an English milkmaid. Slightly silly, but there were reasons for these observations.

Flavors and drinking experience: Most everyone noticed a strong caramel presence, some barnyard funk, but not distastefully much. One sibling said: Ghetost. The cider was low acid, medium high tannins. I loved that it was darkly semi- sweet. I tasted new bruised apple, but found it so interesting.

All of these ciders went super well with family and sunshine and relaxing, but even better than that, sitting down to do a tasting after a ropes course felt magnificent. Highly recommended.