Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Cider Review: Blake’s Fido and Cidersmiths Harry Masters Jersey

I’ve been inundated with enough Thanksgiving messages to last me until 2025, so I suggest we take a break together and enjoy two very different and casual canned ciders before the madness of the holiday weekend begins in earnest.  

Let’s start with Blake’s Hard Cider Company’s Fido. This sample was shared with me for review from the Kinder Ciders line. This line is limited-edition ciders that each raise money for a different nonprofit. The Fido raises money for Pets for Patriots; that’s a charity that helps shelter pets and veterans find one another. (Big swoon for animal rescue charities!)  But first, here’s a little more info about Blake’s Hard Cider.

Blake’s Hard Cider is based on Armada, Michigan. The company is a third-generation family farm business. Now, the company has grown and makes many different ciders in several different lines. I’ve reviewed several Blake’s ciders before; check out earlier reviews for more background about Blake’s. 

Santa Rosa:

Beard Bender:

Apple Lantern:

Black Philip:

The Tonic:

El Chavo:



Visit Blake’s online to learn about all of the ciders:

FIDO (Latin for faithfulness) is the second release in our #KinderCider series. Enjoy this hopped raspberry and grapefruit hard cider made in support of non-profits that pairs veterans and shelter animals.
6.8% ALC. BY VOL.

Appearance: brilliant, foamy, coral color

The color is almost warm enough to be in rose territory but instead it reminds me more of apricot or coral. It foams mightily when poured, but the head does whisk itself away. 

Aromas: Raspberry, ripe apple, hops, dusty

The Fido smells like fresh raspberry and ripe apples. Secondarily I get notes of hops, herbs and dust. I don't get much of the grapefruit as distinct from hops. 

Dryness/sweetness: Sweet

This is not necessarily sweeter than lots of other cider’s I’ve had and called semi sweet but the uplift of acidity I kept expecting in the finish just didn’t show up. Instead, this cider owns its sweetness and has a unique raspberry-centric finish.

Flavors and drinking experience: medium acid, no tannins, lots of fruit, nice sparkle

Fido fetches low to medium acidity. It would likely taste more like medium acidity depending on what cider you usually drink. Like many american ciders, I couldn’t taste much in the way of tannins, but that’s not really what this cider is going for. Let’s talk about that, because I do think this is a very successful cider at it’s own goals. 

Fido wants to please us with fresh fruit flavors, and it does. This cider is very fruity without ever tasting artificial, syrupy or sticky! Hooray!  I find it oh-so- very pleasantly bubbly. Something about the yeast characteristics feels just a little bit beer influenced, but I could be mis-attributing aroma associations with hops. That’s hard to say because the hops feel subtle and integrated into the overall experience. I'd love more voice for the grapefruit element as it does blend with the hops.  

It’s a gentle, sessionable cider that’s lots of fun. I had mine with extra toasty Cheeze-its, because I’m not always fancy. That was delightful.

Now for Cidersmiths’ Harry Masters Jersey I reached back into my vault of notes for a cider I enjoyed a while ago. 

Cidersmiths is based on Herefordshire (a major world center for cider) and was founded by Will Austin and Phillip Warren. Cidersmiths’ website makes the company’s identity very clear. They even use a numbered list to delineate their priorities. I’ll share them exactly how they appear online. 

At Cidersmiths we believe in three principles, it’s what makes great cider… 
1. Good cider is never made from concentrate, only from juice because it tastes way better. Fact.2. Knowing where our apples come from, what varieties are they, how are they grown?3. Cider should be made in a sustainable way that leaves our beautiful countryside just as we found it.

Visit the company’s site to learn more about all the ciders: 

The website also has a great section on tasting cider and language often used to describe cider. I decidedly enjoyed this casual take on a topic near and dear to my heart.

And here’s how the company describes the Harry Masters Jersey: 
Made from the vintage bittersweet cider apple raised originally by Somerset nurseryman Harry Masters in the late 1800s, this is a medium blend cider with a refreshing and distinctive taste. As right for a summer’s day as a night on the tiles. ABV 4.5%

Appearance: bubbly, pale cool straw, brilliant

I honestly expected more color from this cider because of the apples, but it looks like many American ciders with that cool pale straw color, visible bubbles and brilliance. 

Aromas: acetic acid, farmy, funky

As I hoped, this does bring some funk! I enjoy the barn yard aroma at this level of intensity. It’s not a dirty smell, but I’m expecting some character to this cider. I also just a little volatile acidity that leads me to expect some wild tartness.

Dryness/Sweetness: Semi-sweet

This is a semi-sweet to sweet cider. The sweetness does very natural and apple-driven.

Flavors and drinking experience: leather, tea, mushy apple, UK style

There’s no mistaking this cider for something American once you taste it! This has the combination of truly soft apple flavors, sweetness, and worn leather notes that are quintessentially UK cider. It does have more bubble than some, and I love that! Lots of the flavors are fruity with just a hint of farminess. There are berry, grassy, and tropical notes here. 

I might wish for slightly higher tannins and acidity, but what’s here is perfectly pleasing. I had mine a few months ago on the screened in porch while watching my backyard on a summer evening.

Good luck this week, Cider friends!