Today I’m sharing my thoughts on the Stormalong collaboration with Exhibit A Brewing Co. IPC, India Pale Cider. It’s a bit overdue as this collaboration was released in October of last year, so I apologize! I just have to find the right moment of weather, food, and mood to reach for a hopped cider outside of Spring or Summer. This past week, we had those moments a plenty as nearly a week of unseasonable warmth and glorious golden sunshine visited the Finger Lakes. I didn’t hesitate to create a meal around this cider. Read on to find out what it was.
First, I’ll quote Stormalong’s website to paint a little picture of this cidery’s identity.
Stormalong Cider was founded in 2014 by Shannon Edgar with the desire to showcase the virtues of cider made with the right apples. Cider is a complex and nuanced beverage, and apple selection and blends are paramount.
We treat cider making as an artistic endeavor, a renaissance of sorts. Using a blend of culinary and rare heirloom varieties, we ferment and age our ciders with traditional and modern techniques showcasing the unique characteristics of these diverse apples.
At Stormalong, we are committed to quality. We don’t cut corners. We respect the apple, the ingredients, and the process. We aim to increase awareness of the diversity of apple cultivars, some of which have been around since the country was founded, while continuing to innovate and explore in the pursuit of cider’s full potential.
I’ve reviewed and enjoyed several Stormalong ciders since the cidery was founded. Here’s the list.
Pearman Quince(my #10 cider of last year): http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2022/08/cider-review-stormalong-ciders-pearmain.html
White Mountain Magic: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2022/02/cider-review-stormalong-ciders-white.html
Bittersweet Symphonie: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/10/cider-review-stormalongs-bittersweet.html
Wicked Little Wickson: http://alongcameacider.blogspot.com/2021/08/cider-review-stormalongs-wicked-little.html
Online you can find out about Stormalong’s current releases and full lineup: http://stormalong.com/.
Here’s how Stormalong and Exhibit A Brewing describe the collaboration cider: India Pale Cider.
This limited release cider features a blend of Gold Rush and Idared apples fermented with a Belgian saison yeast and dry-hopped with Mosaic and Simcoe Cryo hops. The result is a crisp 6.0% ABV cider with notes of citrus, floral, and tropical fruit enhanced by the hops.
Appearance: Brilliant, Intense pollen yellow, Ring of bubbles
I don’t expect a shining and brilliant cider for a hopped cider. Often the aesthetics of beer influence hopped ciders, and the result is a hazy to cloudy cider. The IPC instead shows off its intense pollen yellow colors and the tiny corona of bubbles I see where the cider meets the glass. Lovely!
Aromas: Grapefruit, Melon, Aquatic, Fresh apple, Clean
The first note I scent after pouring this cider is grapefruit flesh, followed by melon, fresh apple, and a wonderfully refreshing play of aquatic elements. It feels cooling, not sweaty or dirty. The overall sense I get from the IPC is that this will be fresh and clean while also tasting tremendously fruity. We’ll see if the flavors match the aromas.
Sweetness Dryness: Off Dry
This is a perfect off-dry cider in terms of its not-quite-present level of sweetness. The cider isn’t punishing, austere, or bone dry, but neither is it sweet. It’s just not-dry enough to allow that to be a background characteristic, making room for other flavors and factors.
Flavors and Drinking Experience: medium to petillant bubbles. mildly bitter, off dry, big and acidic with plenty of apple.
Hopped ciders are more than a little bit divisive in the cider world. Lots of cider people are also beer people, and for them hops have two cleanly defined roles: aromatics and bitterness. There is less agreement about whether or not both of those roles are acceptable for hops in cider. Stormalong and Exhibit A Brewing make their collaborative case for lots of aromas and just the mildest of bittering. It’s a wise choice and a delicious one.
The cider’s texture is medium-full bodied buoyed by petillant bubbles. It’s refreshingly acidic cider with plenty of apple, hops and fermentation character.
The Grapefruit notes that I noticed in the aromas persist. The hops specifically elide into a pineyness that seems woody in the context of cider. I enjoy the IPC’s nice wet mouthfeel, particularly because it stays fresh not dank, bulbous, or funky. The collaboration comes off as mature and focused by creating a hopped cider that’s balanced and sessionable with a clean finish. It's committed to doing a challenging thing well: the integration of apples and hops.
With this cider, we had open-faced cheddar melts, made from 2 year aged cheddar, along with an array of nibbles. The rich cheese went beautifully with the clean cider and walnuts, craisins, honey, carrots, peppers and hummus. A simple dinner was perfect to complement this deeply enjoyable cider.