Monday, November 14, 2022

Cider Review: Angry Orchard's Buddy King

I should be thinking about Thanksgiving, about food, pairing, and gathering. Here’s the thing; I just don’t feel ready today. Tonight, I was ready to come home from work and enjoy vegetarian sausage, bell peppers, broccoli and some goat cheese and sun-dried tomato ravioli. It's a nice for living in the moment and enjoying the peace of not yet guesting, hosting, planning, or prepping. The big days will come soon enough.

Tonight I’m so happy to remember my trip to Angry Orchard’s Walden Orchard facility this past Summer and review the Buddy King cider that I picked up there. If you’re not familiar with the Walden Research and Development facility, it’s magical. Let go of all of your expectations of Angry Orchard or stereotypes about national brands. This cidery is doing its own thing and the ciders are very different from the super approachable and often sweet choices that Angry Orchard supplies to grocery store shelves. 

Here are a few of my earlier Angry Orchard reviews which include a mix of national and more limited offerings.


Newtown Pippin:


Understood in Motion 2:

Understood in Motion 3: this collaboration with Tom Oliver of Oliver’s Cider (this was my #6 cider of 2018):

Wooden Sleeper:

Spiced Apple:




Visit Angry Orchard online here to learn about the ciders and what’s happening at Walden:

Here’s how Angry Orchard describes the Buddy King, “A wild fermented cider that we aged on Missouri-grown blackberries and blueberries from our friends at Side Project Brewing. 7.2% ABV.”

Here’s a link to the collaborator Side Project Brewing:

Appearance: apricot, bubbly, brilliant

This brilliant cider shows off some lovely active bubbles. The bubbles are easy to see because the cider is so very transparent in its welcoming shade of apricot.

Aromas: wild, acetic acid, twiggy

Buddy King smells very obviously like a wild fermented cider. It’s zingy with notes of tropical fruit and acetic acid. What I like about the aroma is that it’s anchored with some twiggy wood notes. I definitely know to expect a tart or even sour cider from these aromas.

Sweetness/dryness: Dry

This is a completely dry cider. It’s unusual to have a wild fermentation that retains sweetness because of the difference in controlling a pitched fermentation and a wild one.

Flavors and drinking experience: sour, high acid, pineapple, peppers, tannic 

My estimation based on the Buddy King’s aromas was proved right; its super sour! This high acid cider tastes like malic and acetic acids. My first impression is how very basque-inspired or Sidra like it tastes. It’s far from one dimensional though. The cider also proffers red bell pepper and tropical fruit notes while it remains bone dry.

The Buddy King is very angular with all that acid and some tannins. The hints of tomato and berry seem like they’d be in conflict, but they work harmoniously together. I appreciate that it’s petillant rather than more strongly sparkling. The acid provides enough excitement on its own without needing the needling of aggressive bubbles. 

I need to emphaize just how much tart acid the cider has. The Buddy King can cut through any food! Be sure to use this superpower and pair it with food. You could choose something hearty like Shepherds Pie or something with plenty of cheese like my ravioli meal. The fun thing about pairing the Buddy King is how much the cider changes. The cider’s funk is revealed even as the acid is tamed. What a complex and wild offering from Angry Orchard’s Walden Cider House!