The first cider I got to try on my San Francisco trip was a Gowan's cider at a really neat Indian restaurant in the Mission. I was meeting a friend with my husband at Babu Ji (http://babujisf.com/) after coming in from the pouring rain. While we were drying off and waiting a moment, I asked about cider and was thrilled to hear about a local choice on tap. So, I thought I'd share my impressions of the only Gowan's Heirloom Cider I've had the chance to try: Their 1876 Heirloom. But first a bit about Gowan's Heirloom Ciders.
This business grew out of Gowan Family Orchards. That business is known for wholesale fruit including the rare Sierra Beauty apple for 140 years. There's not as much information about the actual cider elements in comparison to the orchards, but perhaps that will grow with time.
If you like gorgeous photos of apples, please visit their websites. You won't be disappointed.
And now, moving to the cider I was so lucky to find. The official description of the 1876 Heirloom reads,
Our ‘1876’ wine-style cider celebrates the first harvest here with a select blend of fresh heirloom apples, capturing the complex aromatics of late fall orchards: rich earthiness, floral, stone fruit and honey.
Lightly sparkling, this cider is refreshing, complex and crisp, with a medium finish. Imagine walking through a late fall orchard.I'm not quite sure what a medium finish entails specifically, but this does give me a few good expectations. Ciders that can be described as earthy are often winners for me, and readers know I'm a huge fan of using heritage dessert fruit while our cider specific orchards in the United States are still so few and so young. Let's see how this tastes.
Appearance: brilliant, few visible bubbles, old gold color
As the picture reveals, albeit dimly, this cider looks totally brilliant. I'd describe the color as old gold. There aren't too many bubbles, so I'm not expecting an intense sparkle.
Aromas: melon rind, fresh watermelon, wet apples, bakery
Perhaps its the limitations of a pint glass of cider in an Indian restaurant but I had a difficult time honing in on the aromas of this cider. I could detect watermelon rind, wet apples, and bakery, but I feel like there was more I was not accurately perceiving.
Sweetness/dryness: semi-sweet to sweet
I noted in the official description there were few hints to point me to how dry or sweet this cider might be.
Flavors and drinking experience: fig, caramel, baking spice
This cider reminds me of ripe figs, caramel, and baking apples with spices. There's also a note reminiscent of Johnny Chapman by New Day Craft. (See that review here: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2015/05/cider-review-new-day-crafts-johnny.html) I think the notes of salted caramel are what reminds me of molasses, but lightly so.
The richness in the mouthfeel comes from the sweetness without any doubt. The cider is only lightly bubbly, as I anticipated. The 1876 offers up medium low acid compared to many similarly heritage fruit ciders from the east coast and a similarly low level of tannins. I has a lingering sweet mouth coat that finishs cleanly and tastily.
This was a great cider for a spicy meal. Spicy foods bring out the best in sweet ciders, if you ask me. I enjoyed this cider and the whole experience mightily, and I hope I get to try more Gowan's ciders in the future.