Tuesday, November 14, 2017

#PickCider Review Wild Hare Hard Cider's Hopscotch, & I'm off to judge cider again!

Its time to start thinking about how to #pickcider for Thanksgiving, and I wanted to challenge myself to think about taking this really delicious easy pairing and give it a fun challenge. I want to find out if a hopped cider can work for the Thanksgiving meal, so I'm trying Hopscotch by Wild Hare Ciders out of Virginia.

Based on the way that Wild Hare introduces themselves, I can see that they also care about variety and challenge in their ciders. This is what Wild Hare says by way of introduction, “From classic dry ciders to more modern ciders infused with hops and herbs, we craft cider with a variety of personalities. Throughout the year we will have our standard offerings, and also seasonal batches and experimental flavors. Come in to find the cider that is the perfect match for you”.

I also found out online that this micro Virginia cidery sources apples from the Shenandoah Valley. They pride themselves on producing ciders different from folks will find on grocery store shelves. This boutique micro-cidery talk about both modern fermentation techniques and the long history of cider. The founder is Jay Clement, and the cidermaker is Nathan Briggs. They do have a tasting room where visitors can try their current selections.

Find out more on the web at: http://wildharecider.com

Today's cider is their Hopscotch; it's label describes it as “a lightly dry-hopped cider.” This grammar nerd found that an interesting order of modifiers. In the end it looks like the level of hopping will be light and the method of hopping is dry hopping, but we'll see whether or not tasting the cider bears this out. As for a Thanksgiving pairing, I tend to think the fresh lightness of a hopped cider, provided it is a balanced beverage, would complement many traditional Thanksgiving side dishes, including sweet potatoes, carrots, and brussels sprouts.

The full official description reads,

This small batch cider gives a nod to beer making and does so by dry hopping a special blend of finished cider. With a variety of aroma hops, the process imparts a floral & citrus aroma, creating a truly unique product that is not bitter, but has the spirit to stand up to beer and wine.

This cider is a 2017 GLINTCAP Bronze medalist. Its ABV is 6.9%

What I don't know about Wildhare Cider's Hopscotch is much about the apple varieties used to make it. But the best way to find out more about this cider will be to taste it.

Appearance: hazy, vibrant straw, no visible bubbles

This definitely looks like a hopped cider. They are more likely to be hazy and appear less bubbly. 

Aromas: mildly hoppy, sweet, fruity, lychee

I'm digging the mildly hoppy cider aroma; its pleasing and mellow. The notes are sweet fruity with lots of lychee smell. I'm anticipating a bright cider based on these smells.

Sweetness/dryness: off dry

You could call this cider medium dry or more precisely off dry. The sweetness is balanced by acidity and fruitiness. Yes, I'd definitely call this balanced. The Hopscotch tastes less sweet than it smells.

Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, green fruit, spicy,

This cider tastes like green or light fruits: pears, lychee, and golden apples. I'd say its surprisingly less sweet than I expected based on the aromas. The Hopscotch offers up plentiful acid and a very nice amount of hop flavor. There are no tannins to speak of.

I found its light body and medium sparkle very appealing. One of the more exciting flavor notes for me in this cider is the subtle spiciness. The hops are indeed aromatic hops but there's just enough bitterness to remind me of a fresh tonic with apple and Quinine. Its pleasing and not as cooling and summery as some hopped ciders. I do think it would pair well with some vegetable sides for Thanksgiving.

Also, I will be judging at the Pennsylvania State Farm Products Show (or just the PA Farm Show) in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania later this month. And its not too late to enter!

Their cider entries must arrive by November 17th, so the deadline is coming up very soon. Read more here: http://www.farmshow.pa.gov/exhibit/rules-regulations/Pages/default.aspx

This is a first year for this competition, so I’m super excited to be judging.