After a week of bright heat in Ithaca, I am welcoming the shelter of clouds and the possibility of rain. August brings an unpredictability to the weather that feels a bit less risky than the ups and downs of spring. I love it. Changes in weather allow me to switch up my cider routine while still choosing my beverages to suit the season.
Today that means skipping some of the extras I've been enjoying in my cider all summer and just highlighting apples. This time, I'm after some of my favorite apples, crab apples. I want to find out if these fruit consistently bring both acidic sharpness and depth of flavor. Today's review is Embark Craft Ciderworks Crab Series Volume 1.
But, before we get to the cider, I'd like to share a bit about Embark Craft Ciderworks. This cidery grew from Lagoner Farms, now in its 5th generation of family ownership. The orchard was founded in 1909. Embark has two cidermakers: Jacob Lagoner and Chris Gowan. Their introduction talks a fair bit about apples, local food, and history, but also gives a nod to the cidery that inspired Embark: Farnum HillCiders. Their output looks to have expanded a bit beyond that inspiration though as Embark has released fruit blended and hopped ciders as well as a range of purely apple ciders.
You can read more about at their website:
I previously reviewed the American Hopped: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/01/cider-review-embark-craft-ciderworks.html
Now, The Crab Series Volume 1.
Here's Embark's official description:
The first release in The Crab Series, this is a unique dry cider. It expresses flavors from three different crabapple varieties, balanced out with the sweetness of Tolman Sweet and mildness of Rome Beauty apples. It has a dark golden color and a flavor that lingers as you drink it. A nice amount of tannins and balanced acidity make this the cider makers’ drink of choice.
Appearance: harvest gold, brilliant bubbly
This cider looks darkly sparkling. The bubbles glint with gold in a brilliant cider. Yes, this cider is inspiringly pretty.
Aromas: honey, red currants, fermentation, minerality
There's a lot happening in this cider when I bring my nose to it. At first the Crab Series smells honeyed but also red currants and ripe apples. Secondarily I can smell a bit of clean sourdough. Lastly, in the background, there's hints of funky minerality that almost remind me of a resting tractor on a summer afternoon.
Sweetness dryness: off dry to semi dry
The Crab Series' label indicates that the cider will be a semi-dry, but this feels on the dry end of semi-dry, even off dry.
Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, multiple kinds of fruit, some tannins
Wow! This is a fantastic cider. It tastes golden and rich but interesting and zippy. This is a lithe and active cider that reminds me of lots of summery white wines. It gives plentiful tropical fruit notes like pineapple, rich and yummy. I do so love what crab apples can do for cider.
As I hoped, the crab apples in this cider make themselves known with ongoing sharp zesty acidity and some tannic presence. As I drink this cider, there's spreading warmth and red fruit notes that just woo me. The tannins and acidity combine to great mouthfeel.
Let's keep the pairings seasonal, even knowing that with a cider like this, one has options. I'd happily serve this cider with tomato pie, corn and pepper chowder, or even just pita and homemade hummus (don't skimp on the olive oil, that's what makes it good). I had mine while watching an impressive thunderstorm from an attic window.