Monday, March 21, 2022

Cider Review: Big Fish Cider Co.'s Punk and Henry

This past week I saw coastal redwoods, the Marin Headlands, and a sea glass beach. I wish I hadn’t needed a springtime escape so much, but I did. It was a lovely trip filled with natural beauty, good food, and a few tremendous friends. I’m so grateful. Because I wasn’t up for cider multi-tasking, I didn’t reach out to any of my CA cider peeps, but I promise I'll come back and hopefully be more ready to geek out about cider next time.

Almost immediately upon my return, I got to celebrate a dear local friend on her birthday. That celebration involved attempting to make and decorate cake pops when I’d never eaten a cake pop before. It went interestingly, as one might expect. But I brought a special cider to review, Big Fish Cider Co.’s Punk and Henry, and here are those notes.

I’m a big fan of Big Fish Cider! This Virginia Cidery was founded by Kirk Billingsley. The cidery has a tasting room in Monterey, Virginia that looks to be open on Fridays and Saturdays at present. Big Fish Cider is tremendously decorated, winning at least one Good Food Award and plenty of medals in various cider competitions.


Previous reviews include all of these delightful ciders from Big Fish Cider Co.

Virginia Hewes Crab:

That was my #1 favorite cider of 2020!

Wild Meadow:

Allegheny Gold (my #3 cider from 2019):

Highland Scrumpy (my #3 cider from 2018):

Church Hill Blush:

I recommend visiting Big Fish Cider online here:

This week, I’m so excited to share what I thought of Punk and Henry. Here’s the official description from Big Fish Cider.

This cider pays homage to the cidermaker's neighbors he knew while growing up in the Allegheny Mountains of Virginia. It is entirely made of fruit within a 3 mile radius of Punk & Henry's Farm west of Monterey, and using apple varieties that Punk & Henry used to make cider. Northern Spy, Grimes Golden, Winesap, and Arkansas Black among others. The amber color of this cider is typical of ciders made from old apple trees that are not sprayed and fertilized. The aromas of caramel, and ripe apples hit the nose before taking a sip. Bright acidity is the first sensation upon taking the first sip, quickly warming to an earthy, but fruity vanilla notes, and ending with a soft caramel finish that lingers on the palate.  Alcohol by volume: 7.42%.

This cider has an introduction video from Big Fish! That’s tremendously unusual and quite fun: My favorite part has to be when Kirk says that both the best and the worst ciders he’s ever had were from wild fermentations. I’ll raise a glass to that!

Appearance: Bright popcorn kernel, brilliant, small bubbles

This cider pours with obvious sparkle; the bubbles form a ring around the edge of the cider where it touches the glass. The color reminds me of unpopped popcorn kernels: intense harvest gold. The cider’s clarity is brilliant, easily.

Aromas: overripe apple, nectarine, and peach

What an inviting set of aromas. The Punk and Henry smells mellow like overripe apples apples. The effect is all roasty and autumnal, but there are sparkles of brighter flavors in the mix as well, like nectarine or peach.

Sweetness/dryness: Semi-dry

That feeling of softened autumn fruit translates from this cider’s aromas to its level of sweetness. There’s enough sweetness to feel welcoming and soft, but nothing artificial, sticky, or cloying.

Flavors and drinking experience: high fruity acids, high tannins, golden raisins, apples and caramel

This cider is something special! I knew I could bring this to a birthday party, and it would be enjoyed by close friends. Thankfully, Big Fish Cider Co. came through for me and surpassed even my high expectations! This is a beautifully balanced, inviting, scrumptious cider!

The first impression I get from Punk and Henry is golden raisins. It’s that high fruity acid that wakes up every part of my palate without being punishing. Lovely! The cider is both medium-high tannins and high acid, so the whole beverage feels just lively and high definition. There’s no way to sleep through this cider!

I love the bubbles. They open up layers of flavor beautifully! It turned out to be such a special cider and a wonderful pairing with Yachae Kimbap and homemade cake pops. Kimbap is a Korean sushi roll, and Yachae Kimbap is a more veggie-oriented version of the dish. The ripe apple notes are a striking contrast against the crisp carrots, peppers, and crunchy veggies of the roll. The toasted sesame aroma from the sushi was also a perfect complement to the cider's richness. 

There are so many ways you could pair this cider. I think I’d really like to try it with something spicy next time. If you try it that way, let me know!