Cider Geek vs Snob Part II

January 24, 2012

The timing is a little weird, but about five minutes after I published yesterday’s blog about been a cider geek/snob, then this news article about “5 Hard Ciders Guests Will Like Better Than Beer” comes across my desk. I thought, so here is a chance for me to try and be more geeky and less snobby about what I consider less than desirable ciders. The author, Jason Notte makes the following suggestions:

So my first reaction is that all of these ciders are rushed. That is to say, they are made more like beer in that they are bottled within six weeks from the start of fermentation. Someone who makes cider more like wine will let it age for at least nine months. But these cider producers work in volume – they don’t have time for aging, and rushing also cuts down on the amount of equipment they need. Secondly, and I could be mistaken on this but I don’t think so, these ciders are made from concentrate. In order to operate year round, they take the apple harvest and crush, press, and concentrate the juice so that they can rehydrate in the off season like May and ferment it. Thirdly, and I did verify this one, they all run an unnatural 4.5%-5% AVB with the exception of Original Sin, which is a more natural 6%. Unless they are using poor quality apples, the cider should naturally want to be a 6% AVB. This means to me that they are diluting it down or stopping fermentation prematurely. Either way, it is pasteurized to be shelf stable to prevent the yeast from consuming the rest of the sugar. This also means it is going to be a little bit sweet, yet maybe have more of that “apple flavor” people think cider should have (wine does not taste like grapes, so cider shouldn’t taste like apples). So overall, these techniques are very mass production factory work instead of small scale craft making.

That said:

  • I think Magners has decent flavor, partly because it is an Irish cider. That is to say, America cut down all of its cider apple trees, so the American cider makers are using inferior eating apples.
  • I find Woodchuck too sweet, and would recommend Original Sin instead.
  • Samuel Smith’s Organic cider has a flaw in it that I have people drink for learning and as a party joke. Therefore, if someone is not looking to learn cider flaws, or is not in the mood for a party joke, then skip it.
  • Crispin can be decent with the classic ciders, but I find their advertising “over ice” bizarre, and they also add a lot of adjuncts like honey, maple syrup, and more so that it doesn’t taste like cider anymore. This has me really has me questioning if they are challenging the beer market, or the malt beverage market. Instead, if you are lucky enough to live in an area that sells it, I would sort of steer people toward a company out of California that Crispin bought out – Fox Barrel. If they are going to add adjuncts, then it is going to be other fruits, but I just overall feel better about the product.

So, out of that list of five, I have two yes recommendations, and three nos.  I would like to believe that this makes me more of a geek than a snob, but maybe I have one too may nos?


2 Responses to “Cider Geek vs Snob Part II”

  1. I won’t comment on the quality of the ciders spotlighted, but TheStreet is a business publication and it is therefore not surprising that industrial ciders with widespread US distribution were chosen. If you live in a part of the country that is not a traditional apple growing region, then it can be difficult to find anything but the mass-marketed ciders…which in turn makes it difficult to avoid the “snob” label.

  2. Cary S. Says:

    Great blog post. I agree that more traditional ciders are aged and don’t taste so much like apples. My husband makes Desiato cider with the Desiato winery & distillery in Pipersville, Pa USA. Our cider is aged in Laird’s applejack barrels for several months and is fermented completely dry and comes in at an alcohol percentage of about 6.5%. Some ciders that are rushed also have an offputting smell when you go to sip them and we find that several months of aging gets rid of that smell.

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