Cider Review: Rockridge Slippery Rock Cider

November 4, 2010

I just get done ranting about the word cider, only to open up a bottle of cider made by a company that sells both hard and sweet cider, and they call both products “cider.” That has got to be confusing on customers unless they happen to notice that the bottle is or is not labeled with an ABV.

I’m talking about Rockridge Orchards and Cidery located out of Enumclaw, WA. I had their Slippery Rock Cider (not pictured).

When doing a cider tasting, one observes the appearance first. I have never seen a hard cider so cloudy before, except one of my own early batches. When fermenting, the solids usually drop out and form lees after awhile, leaving the cider clear. The fact that this was so cloudy made me wonder if they either bottled really early before it had a chance to drop clear, or if they added back into the cider some unfiltered apple juice, causing it to cloud up again.

Next, I took a smell. It has a very heavy apple nose on it, much much more than average cider would. Again, this supports the theory that they added juice back into it to sweeten the cider, giving it an inflated apple nose.

Finally, I tasted it. Yup, apple juice. It was sweet with very little detection of the 6.5% alcohol, and it had no detection of acid on it to give it any bite. At one point, I actually wondered if I was drinking apple juice spiked with brandy, because that was what it was sort of like since it was so dominantly apple juice in flavor.

I’m assuming they pasteurized the bottle, which would then prevent the apple juice they used as sweetener to ferment in the bottle. However, my husband is now worried that the open bottle in our fridge could pick up some yeast and start fermenting. I doubt it since it is being refrigerated, but his concerns are justified as the sugar reading I took on it measured 1.035 SG. A dry cider is less than 1.005 SG, and a sweet tasting cider will be greater than 1.020 SG, which is 50g of sugar per liter. To put that into perspective, most of the raw apple juice I have been pressing has been around 1.050 SG before fermentation.

What does that all mean? Well, if an apple juice at 1.050 SG ferments dry, it would have an AVB of 6.6% and a SG of 1.000. At those figures, it would take two parts juice to one part cider to equal a 1.035 sugar reading, but that would cause the 6.6% ABV to be diluted to 2.2% ABV. Now maybe their apples have more sugar than mine do, but not even adding sugar to potentially make a 12% or 14% apple wine instead of an apple cider could get an ABV of 6.5% when diluted by two parts. To boot, yeast does not work hardly above 15% ABV, so I’m figuring it would take a distilled spirit to bump it up to 20% ABV, which would then become about 6.6% once diluted. This is all assuming they did use apple juice to sweeten and no sugar at the end. If that was not the case, they could add sugar to apple juice to ferment as a 13% apple wine, then add one part apple wine to one part apple juice to get 6.5% ABV. This would have a sugar content of 1.025 SG, but they could easily add cane sugar to get my measured 1.035 SG.

Honestly, for all that futzing involved, it really just tasted like apple juice and was uninteresting. I wish some other attention had been given to it, such as adding more acid or tannin or something to give it some sort of bite. Then again, it is a unique product because it doesn’t taste like cider, and maybe that is why I’m being so hard on it because I do except some ciderlike qualities and couldn’t find any.

For all my harshness on this cider, I am actually interested in trying some of their other products, such as their Cobblestone Hard Apple cider, which sounds more traditional and looks clear. I am also curious about their meads and apple melomel. Their other ciders, well, I would be hesitant about them. The Quarry Stone sounds like it is made the same as the Slippery Rock Cider, but the acid I have been lamenting could actually be there, making it more interesting and dynamic.

2 Responses to “Cider Review: Rockridge Slippery Rock Cider”

  1. Mstoyko Says:

    My husband and I recently tasted Ridgerock’s cider and share this same opinion. This post is eerily similar to our conversation in the car on the way home! We asked if they use cider apples and were told, “oh yes…we only use cider apples.” I’m not sure they understand the difference between culinary and cider apples. After all, they do use all of their apples to make “cider”, which may make them all cider apples in her opinion. It certainly explains the lack of tannin.

    • I was in Hood River last year asking about cider apples, and everyone said yes, they had some. But in their minds, cider apples were cull apples unsuitable for eating and to be used for juicing. As in cider = unfiltered apple juice. No tannin. This could be the case there.

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