Cider Review: Crispin & Fox Barrel
April 29, 2010
My husband and I went to the Concordia Ale House in Portland, OR for the Crispin & Fox Barrel Cider tasting on April 8, 2010. Their northwest marketing agent Lauren Heine was there with five different samples of their product.
Heine started us off with the Classic Crispin. I found it very smooth and slightly sweet. This one is usually promoted by Crispin as being served over ice. I asked her why that was, since it sort of seems to cheapen the drink as the ice melts and dilutes the cider. She said they were trying to do something new and different with cider, as it is a relatively unchanged drink for so long. Heine said that she preferred the Crispin draft on ice, but usually did not do that to the bottled product, and also did not add ice if she was drinking it with her meal, as she did drink it slower then, and the ice would melt. I could see how the sweet drink would benefit from ice, as the serving recommendation is that the sweeter the cider, the colder it should be. After my tasting, I went ahead and followed her advice and ordered a draft Crispin on ice, but I think it was too cold, so it became very blah. Also, I had it with food, so the ice did melt a bit.
The next cider in the tasting was Fox Barrel’s Hard Apple Cider. This was a much sharper cider compared to the Crispin. This was followed by the pear cider and the black current cider, both made from apple cider and juice added in afterwards. The pear cider was sweeter, and the black current cider really didn’t taste much of berry, but it wasn’t apple, either. I asked Heine about the future of Fox Barrel Cider since it was bought by Crispin. She told us that the two companies really do not share marketing territory with the exception of the Pacific Northwest, so for now, more attention will be made to expand the Crispin market in the central US, and maybe some changes will happen to Fox Barrel in future years, but there are no plans as of yet.
The tasting finished with Crispin Honey Crisp. This is a cider that they stabilized and then added honey too and did not filter, so it is cloudy. The honey has not been allowed to ferment, so this is not a mead/cider blend, AKA cyser. Basically, this is their mellow and smooth cider with honey sweetness that comes to you at the end. Unfortunately, said Heine, the Honey Crisp will give her a hang over, while the other Crispin products will not.
I debated about attending the Belmont Station Crispin & Fox Barrel Cider Tasting tonight, April 29. They will have Bonnie and Clyde Ciders there, two of Crispin/Fox Barrel’s draft only limited release ciders. I tried figuring out if it is worth chasing down a cider that will be rare and hard to come by. Some could argue that is all the more reason to go try it, yet I wondered if I can’t get it on a regular basis if it is worth chasing after. In the end, I dedcided it was Crispin/Fox Barrel Cider, which I kind of hold on the upper end of the mass produced scale, but mass produced isn’t a good thing. The tastings I had at the Oregon Garden’s Brewfest kind of proved that.