As the season’s change we’re beginning to sleep with our windows open, we’re pulling out our favorite fall scarves and jackets, and we’re bringing our drinking game up-to-snuff with warm drinks and of course, cider. Since hard cider pairs with just about everything, it’s the perfect drink to help transition to those recipes you haven’t blown the dust off of all year. A quick glance in “What to Drink with What You Eat” pointed us to cheese, crêpes, poultry, oysters, and seafood; and we think it’s the perfect thing to pour when pairing gets tricky.
We picked up five craft ciders, poured everyone a glass, and got to sipping. First impressions? A handful of natural ciders can be pretty sour and bring with them a great deal of acidity. To be clear: not the warm, smoky pang you might get from a sour beer or the acidic sharpness you get from citrus in a daiquiri; they inch their way closer to a Kombucha or a Shrub soda.
Here’s a run-down of what ciders we cracked open:
- Bumgarner Silver Fork Dry Cider – 2017
- Lassen Farmhouse Dry Cider
- Sidra Asturiana Mayador
- Sonoma Cider “The Anvil”
- 101 Cider House “Black Dog”
Sidra Asturiana Mayador
This one was very sour, we probably shouldn’t have started here. It had a fermented funk to it—almost like a washed-rind cheese; needless to say it’s not for the faint-of-heart. A few of us got notes of black olives, dirty martinis, and a vinegar sour. Meghan pointed out the Bandaid-like brett. The bottle was beautiful and unique; a faded green glass with a taper down the sides — there was also quite a bit of sediment and what looked to be leftover yeast floating around in the bottle.
Bumgarner Silver Fork Dry Cider – 2017
This was the clear favorite — from Bumgarner winery in Camino, CA (about an hour northeast of us in Sacramento) this cider had a bleu cheese nose with notes of cinnamon and honey. The cinnamon showed up in the finish with just the right amount of nutmeg to make this a fall favorite.
Lassen Farmhouse Dry Cider
This had a distinct dusty, earthy flavor to it. Not remotely as sour as the Mayador, the apple comes through and would pair well with a manchego cheese.
101 Cider House “Black Dog”
This one is our halloween pick. Seriously, if you’re at a Halloween party with people who you know like things like Kombucha bring a bottle or two of these: it has activated charcoal and it paints the cider a dark blackish-purple.
This was sour—think fermented tea and overripe fruit—with notes of lavender and lime. There was a yeasty/bready finish that a handful of us in the office enjoyed and a few others didn’t care for. The bottle claims it is a probiotic, and one employee was overheard to have noted their hair had changed a few shades and they could see through walls, so this stuff must be legit.
Sonoma Cider “The Anvil”
This was aged in bourbon barrels and had a nutty vanilla flavor with smoky notes almost like peat, possibly having to do withbarels that had a lot of char on them. It leaned away from the sour thread woven through the other ciders—Sonoma Cider is probably a good call if you’re looking for something that is more palletable for the average drinker.
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