Wednesday, August 19, 2020

Cider Review: UWE Sunny Summer and Stoked Cider Company Blue Palm

I got caught in a thunderstorm yesterday evening while walking home from a local ice-cream spot. My ice cream was long gone, and it had been a hot day; I welcomed the thunderstorm.  I doubt that I’m the only one who considers getting caught out in a cool rain a must-do summer activity. We’ve reached the point in the season that it’s time to reach for the Summer pleasures with both hands. 

Make your tomato pies; grill those peaches; go wading in the creek. All too soon, we’ll be trading in these brilliant long evenings for crisp views of the harvest moon. On the one hand, I’m ready for fall, but until it actually arrives, I’ll be filling my evenings with as many special summer treats as I can.

This logic led me to this week’s ciders: UWE Sunny Summer and Stoked Cider Company Blue Palm.

Let’s start with a cider that Alex brought back from his trip to the Netherlands last fall, UWE Sunny Summer.

You can visit the company online and learn about the ciders in Dutch or English:

Here's how the cidery describes it, “Sunny Summer is a summery apple cider made from English cider apple varieties supplemented with Dutch apple varieties such as Elstar. A smooth thirst quencher that you can drink with ice. 5% ABV”

I know cider with ice is more accepted in Europe, but I am choosing no ice.

Appearance: ginger orange, brilliant, bubbly

This looks more like a UK cider than most american ciders. The color reminds me of orange and ginger. It’s brilliant with a ring of bubbles around the edge of the glass. 

Aromas: sweet, peachy, slightly metallic

My first impression of the Sunny Summer is that it smells like sweet acidity. It’s reasonable to ask how something can smell like acidity. In this case, the cider has the barest hint of volatile acidity, but it’s mild enough such that it smells like warm and tangy peaches.  The aroma starts to shade into something a bit metallic or a bit twangy,  but it’s still mostly fruity. 

Sweetness/dryness: Sweet

This tastes very sweet and fruity. The sweetness specifically reminds me of french ciders, but I’m confident that this isn’t a keeved cider. I think the similarity has other sources, which I’ll explain in the next section.

Flavors and drinking experience: low acid, soft fruit, sweet, short finish

Different indeed! The Sunny Summer’s first impression is one of soft, cooked fruit. The low acidity always comes as a surprise to me because most of the ciders I taste have very high acidity. This is also quite a tannic cider. That combination of sweetness, high tannins, and low acid create a French cider inspired vibe. 

While this cider would be very surprising to many American cider drinkers because its style is so different, it’s totally drinkable. The apple flavors are rich and nice. I’ll call the level of sparkle medium. The finish is quick and clean.

I had mine with a remarkably good pesto bean salad. It was a lovely pairing.

Next up, Stoked Cider Company’s Blue Palm.

I don’t know a lot about Stoked Cider, but I get the impression that the company s invested in associating the cider with California, outdoor activities, health and the beach. I had to do a little searching to find out who founded Stoked Cider, but Cider Scene came through for me! The cider was founded by Mark McTavish. 

You can see for yourself at:

Here’s how Stoked Cider describes the Blue Palm. 

Hop on this cider whale and cruise your way to flavor island. This is a juicy hop monster, refreshingly dry with a burst of tropical fruit and fragrant west coast hops. We crafted this cider for bikini babes, big wave surfers, and hop heads who enjoy a healthier buzz. Dry hopped with Mosaic hops, then blended with fresh blueberries and pineapples. Dive right in and get your hair wet, then stick your feet in the sand and sip till you sway like a lazy palm bending with the sea breeze. 6.9% ABV

While I am not one of those categories of folks for whom this cider was created, I’m excited to taste it.

Appearance: hazy, no visible bubbles, cerise

The color reminds me of cerise or cherry. It’s just on that luscious line between pink and red. The cider looks hazy, and I don’t see any bubbles.

Aromas: blueberry, stones, peaches, minerals

The Blue Palm smells stony and like blueberries to me. There’s some apple but there’s more minerality and other fruit, mostly blueberries and peaches. I don’t get much in the way of hops but the cider has a pleasantly boozy smell.
Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry
This is a fruity semi-dry cider.
Flavors and drinking experience: high acid, hoppy, citrus, pineapple
The Blue Palm is tasty and easy. This high acid cider zings with citrus, and hop notes. I can taste the hops more than I could smell them. There’s not as much blueberry and apple as I expected from this cider’s aromas, but some pineapple speaks up in the fruity blend. The Blue Palm offers nice medium strength bubbles and a pleasingly full body.