Wednesday, October 28, 2020

Cider Review: Big Fish Cider Co. Virginia Hewes Crab

Of all of the things that are very much on my mind, I want to think about making Halloween fun and spooky and safe this year. So much of the rest of the world feels much too big for me to tackle. Part of my plan this year is a virtual Spooky Storytelling Gathering with some family. Thank you to my sister-in-law Karen for this great idea. I’ve already scared myself just doing research for what story I’ll tell. During this gathering across the miles, I know I’ll be sipping a cider. It’s no bonfire bash, but I do like cider with my scares!

One night last week, I had the pleasure of coming home from a sunset walk to home cooked lasagna. My only job was to choose a cider for accompaniment. I chose Big Fish Cider Co. Virginia Hewes Crab. This cider was shared with me, but my opinions remain my own. Before I get into the review, I want to share a bit of background about this cidery.

Big Fish Cider Co. is based in Virginia. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting and chatting with the founder and cidermaker Kirk Billingsley. Big Fish Ciders often do well at competitions like GLINTCAP. I appreciate the range of styles and apples both present in the cidery’s lineup.   

Here’s the rundown of my earlier Big Fish reviews:

Wild Meadow:

Allegheny Gold (my #3 cider from 2019):

Highland Scrumpy (my #3 cider from 2018):

Church Hill Blush:

There’s a video about this cider:

You can visit Big Fish Cider Co. online here:

Here’s the official description for Virginia Hewes Crab.

This is our first single varietal ever at Big Fish Cider. And quite honestly it was destined to go into our heritage blend, until we tasted this after fermentation. The fullness of body, the intensity of flavor, and the tannins, quite honestly blew us away. So I gathered up more of the same fruit, did several small batches utilizing different wine yeasts, and the result for each batch was similar, so I blended it all together, and we feel this is the best cider we have ever produced at Big Fish. A touch of sweetness, partially due to the unfermentable sugars in the cider due to the water core in the apples produced by our hot dry summer of 2019. Notes of citrus, butterscotch, stone fruits, come through. A truly delightful, intense, cider. Drink at cellar temperature for depth of flavor. Alcohol 8.40%

Appearance: transparent, deep harvest moon color, lots of bubbles

The Virginia Hewes Crab has an amazing seasonal color. It reminds me just exactly of a Harvest Moon. That deep reddish orange appears with good transparence and oodles of quick bubbles.

Aromas: Citrus, floral, spice, overripe apples

This cider smells citrusy, floral, with a waft of spice aromas too. It reminds me of Constant Comment tea, cardamom, and overripe apples too. There’s a lot of very tempting aroma here.

Sweetness/dryness: barely off dry

This cider is very fruit but mostly dry. There’s just a lick of sweetness in the mélange of impressions I get from this cider.

Flavors and drinking experience: Tart, creamy mouthfeel, full body, amazing fruit and spice notes

Wow! I knew I wanted to reach for a special cider, but this is shockingly good! The Virginia Hewes Crab tastes tart, acidic, but there’s so much more to it than acid. The cider is wonderfully fruity and spicy too. The bubbles keep it lively but that hint of sweetness and higher ABV also mean that it’s simultaneously thick! I love a bubbler with lots of body! I’d even call this cider creamy!

It’s extremely good! My cotasters and I agree that this cider with its well-balanced combination of zesty tartness, beautiful fruit, intense sparkle, and luscious mouthfeel is a total winner. The acidity really helped pair it with the lasagna as well. This is a combo to try!