Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Cider Review Slyboro Cider House's Hidden Star and Starcut's Pulsar

I am a broken record these days. When will it be spring? I want to see the sun. I apologize for my repetitions of this theme, but it’s as true as I can be to this year and the context of my cider tastings of late. I don’t think it’s entirely unreasonable to desire hints of green and warm in mid-April. Besides, complaining about the weather unites people. Feel free to add your own grousing in the comments.

As satisfying as it might be to fuss about the lack of spring, that’s not why I write. I write to share my thoughts about new ciders each week. I had a lot of fun choosing my ciders for today’s reviews. I picked two companies, Starcut Ciders and Slyboro Cider House that focus on local apples from two different prominent apple regions of the United States: northern Michigan and New York just on the other side of the Vermont border. Then I realized that both ciders have the word star in their names, so I’ll drink these two ciders and look to the heavens. Or something.

Slyboro Cider House’s Hidden Star

Of the two companies, I am more familiar with Slyboro Cider House. It operates out of a many generation orchard with many varieties of heritage and cider apples. You can visit their orchard and tasting room seasonally, as well as join in on pizza or paint and sip nights.

You can find some additional information and see some gorgeous photographs on the website:

Here’s a little list of my previous reviews of Slyboro Ciders.

I also used their Ice Cider in my Thanksgiving lineup last year: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/11/happy-to-pickcider-for-thanksgiving.html
In 2016, I had the pleasure of visiting the orchard and tasting room: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2016/08/the-great-vermont-cider-tour-day-3.html
And when this blog was new, I first reviewed Slyboro’s Old Sin: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2013/06/cider-review-slyboro-ciders-old-sin.html
Here’s the official description for Hidden Star.
Hidden Star Semi - Dry Cider 
Discover the secret in the apple! Cider from historic, hearty Northern Spy apples blended with ecologically grown Liberty apples, brings a deeply rooted American tradition to the modern table for your enjoyment.
Made from apples grown at Hicks Orchard, a family farm in the Adirondack foothills and New York?s oldest U-Pick orchard. Clean, crisp, aromatic and refreshingly smooth, like a ripe apple just picked from a tree. Hidden Star pairs well with Summer barbeques,Autumn picnics,Winter festivities, and Spring frolics. Serve chilled. 8% alc/vol 2.5% residual sugar. 750ml

Appearance: brilliant, bubbly, straw

This cider has tantalizingly visible bubbles in a warm straw color. As the picture shows, it's brilliant with nary a hint of haze.

Aromas: tropical fruit, applesauce, peaches

Nice and fruity, Hidden star smells like tropical fruits including pineapple, homemade applesauce, and ripe peaches.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

This semi-dry cider has a little sweetness that reminds me most specifically of powdered sugar.

Flavors and drinking experience: citrus, spice, balanced

Though the smell was all fruit, the taste of Hidden Star shows even more complexity. I do get lots of citrus; if pressed, I’d describe it as crystallized citrus peel. There are some baking spice notes, like a gentle hint of cinnamon. The tropic fruit from the aroma isn’t entirely gone though as I still get suggestions of pineapple in the cider.

In terms of specific qualities, I’d call this medium acidity cider that exhibits great balance. The body of the cider is moderately full but very zesty. The Hidden Star offers up some subtle wildness, but it’s not funky. One of the things I notice most about the cider is how great the finish tastes.

I tend to love those Northern Spy heavy ciders, and this is no exception. Brilliant. I had it with homemade veggie and pineapple pizza and it was simply delicious.

Starcut Pulsar

This is my second review of a cider by Starcut. They are a relatively young company out of Northern Michigan, founded in 2014. The company is the cider arm of Short’s Brewing Company. They focus on using local Michigan apples and combining them with fruits and using inventive fermentation techniques.

My first Starcut Cider review was of the Immortal Jelly: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2017/01/cider-review-starcut-immortal-jelly.html

Read all about the ciders at http://starcutciders.com/

The Pulsar’s official description reads,
Pulsar is a semi-dry Modern Cider fermented with Michigan apples and Pinot Noir yeast. Golden in color, Pulsar has soft fruit and white wine-like aromas. Mildly acidic, this cider has a bright and tangy sweetness that dries the palate before a clean and crisp finish. 6.4% ABV
This is one of Starcut’s Flagship ciders. I need to take a second for this phrase, “has a bright and tangy sweetness that dries the palate.” I’m not sure I understand what Starcut is claiming, but dry is more often used as an opposite idea to sweet such that I’m not sure how sweetness can be drying. That said, I’m curious about this cider.

Appearance: brilliant, some visible bubbles, tea

The color reminds me of tea; it's brilliant. I see some visible bubbles in a ring at the top of the liquid and at the bottom of the glass.

Aromas: Pixy Stix, berries, dust, and apples

This is such an interesting set of aromas! The cider smells distinctly sweet and fruity, and when I break down those smells, the Pulsar’s aromas remind me most of apples, berries, and Pixy Stix!
Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

I thought it would be sweeter based on the aroma, but the cider is an approachable semi-dry.

Flavors and drinking experience: bright, tart, beery

I know that the Pulsar’s official description calls out wine yeast and vinous flavors, but I found a lot of beer characteristics in this cider. This semi-dry cider is medium acid, which translates to pleasantly tart and bright. It’s very bright in flavor. The fruitiest note when drinking the cider comes across as fresh green grapes.

Something about the cider tastes a little bit darker and yeastier than many ciders I know. It almost reminds me of a  briney English cider in a way, but its easy drinking and friendly. It has a light body with plenty of zip and moderate rather than intense carbonation.

I had this cider with a homemade black bean and corn burrito. Anchoring this light cider with a hearty meal smothered in chipotle sauce was a grand choice. The cider brightened the food and the burrito balanced this cider as well.