Sunday, December 12, 2010

Hard Cider An Alternative To Heavy Holiday Drinks

I used to own a 1972 Olds Toronado. That car was amazing! It was front wheel drive with a 400 V8 and 4 barrel carburetor. The hood was as big as a football field, and the trunk wasn’t much smaller.

My friends and I had a little experimental station going on in the back of that car. During football games we’d go across the street to the local Safeway, and purchase a gallon or two of fresh apple cider. We’d pass the jug, along with a couple dozen raspberry filled powdered donuts.

Whatever juice was left from our little snack went into my trunk. After a few days we’d look in the back and burp the jugs to make sure that the foam wasn’t going to blow the tops. And, after a few weeks we’d have a nice jug of apple cider to share again. This time with a little added zap!

Honestly, I was always just a little nervous drinking the not-so-fresh cider. It had floating chunks of mold, and god only knows what in it. But, nonetheless I gained a love for hard apple cider.

Hard cider is a serious European tradition. For centuries people have been making the stuff. It is relatively easy to do, as evidenced by my little story above. But, to make cider commercially, and offer it through distribution is a challenge.

One of the brands that I’m most familiar with is our local cidery, Blue Mountain Cider from Milton Freewater. Blue Mountain offers several types of cider. Their Farmstead, and their Cherry cider are my personal favorites.

The Farmstead offers flavors and bouquets of freshly picked apples. Sweet and crisp to the taste, with a nice fresh finish. The Cherry uses Montmorency cherry juice to create a wonderfully sour-sweet combination in your mouth. Great for drinking, or use in salad dressings!

Recently I was given a couple of bottles of a new cider that is out on the market here locally. Crispin is a cider company from Minneapolis, Minnesota. They also offer many styles of cider, from old-world artisan, to draught, to a line of 12 oz. bottles.

I was given samples of the Original and the Brut styles to try. Crispin promotes their brand as being “crisp over ice”, however I really wanted to taste the cider and not the funky city water that my ice is made from. So, I put them in my cooler near the ice and drank them neat.

The first to go into my glass was the Crispin Brut. According to Crispin this is the “Champagne” of ciders. Extra dry to the nose and the palate. Crisp apple bouquet on the nose, a long yet fresh finish.

The Crispin Original was more to my personal style. Sweet crisp apples on the nose and on the tongue. The added sweetness really set it off for me. Both offer lotts of tight little bubbles to caress the tongue right to the last sip.

This holiday season, if you want to offer your guests something refreshingly different other than beer, wine, or mixed drinks I suggest picking up one of these great ciders. Your guests will love the crisp alternative.

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