There’s more to life than beer

25 Sep

What’s more Fall than apples?

I was at the coast this past weekend with a big group of friends, taking in the last bit of sunshine and warmth to be had out that way.  It was 70 degrees and sunny both days, which meant the entire group spent our days playing frisbee and jumping into 52 degree water.  There was lots of good food, craft beer, and even a few Chocolate Whiskey & Beer cupcakes lying around.  The drive home on Sunday, however, cemented the idea of fall for me.  There were plenty of trees changing colors along Highway 26, and the air in the coast range had a bite to it.  I promised myself that this week would see me try at least two fall-type beverages.  I say beverages because I have been wanting to write a bit about some ciders that I have recently been enjoying.

I first had the Finnriver Dry Hopped Hard Cider at this years North American Organic Brewers Festival (NAOBF).  I distinctly remember this cider being a stunning revelation for me, as I had never had a hard cider that also showcased hops in the nose and flavor.  I remember telling myself that this was a drink that I needed to keep my eyes open for, as I desperately wanted to have it again.  I probably drank two whole glasses of the stuff, which is pretty much a no-no at a festival if you want to have a shot at trying all the other offerings.

Tonight, the cider poured very clear and was a pale, light-yellow color with almost no head retention in the glass.  There was almost a hint of green in the color, but it could have just be my subconscious messing with me because I know there are hops used in making it.  The nose on this particular bottle was not nearly as strong as what I remember smelling at the NAOBF.  That cider was striking in its hop-forward smell.  It was all flowers and citrus, while this one was much more subtle (slightly spicy with some citrus qualities) which is somewhat disappointing but not altogether surprising.  I get the distinct impression that the creators of both craft beer and cider up the ante on their festival submissions, thus clouding the judgement of festival goers who later look for offerings in bottles and cans.  I’m not saying that they all do it, but this experience is not new for me, and it got me thinking about how some producers can entice you with a sensory experience at a festival…one that they can’t fully replicate in a bottle later, to get your business.  Again, no judgement, but I am starting to think I can’t trust festival beers to be an exact copy of what I had when I find them later in the bottle shops.

The taste on the cider was very close to how I remember it.  It had a clear Granny Smith tartness to it, followed up with a subdued hop flavor.  Since the hops used in this cider are mostly for aroma purposes, you wouldn’t expect too much hop flavor.  However there was a little to be found, most of it and earthy-citrus quality which compliments the apple flavor.  The cider was pleasantly effervescent and finished up on the tongue very dry.  Exactly what I like in a cider.  Too sweet and you lose me after my first pint.  Upon further tasting, I am not sure I would want to purchase more bottles of this cider, but if I saw it on tap anywhere I would definitely try it to see if the nose was closer to what I remember this past summer. I can’t stress enough how magnificent it was!

I was not as impressed as I wanted to be this time around, but this is clearly worth your time if you are into ciders.

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