This week we are going to take a look at the world of cider, and offer you two very different and very good examples of what's possible.
Angry Orchard has been experimenting for almost two decades with different varieties of apples and fermentation methods for the making of cider. Of interest, it just so happens that there are some regions in the United States — including the Pacific Northwest and the Northeast — that share some soil and climate characteristics with the apple-growing regions in France and Italy.
It was these European countries from which the apples were originally sourced to make some of the Angry Orchard ciders. At the same time, they wanted to experiment with American apples. This time, they've turned to green apples from Washington State.
Let's start today with Angry Orchard Green Apple Cider. The makers describe it as "inspired by the tartness and brightness of a fresh green apple and is the first year-round style made with American apples." This is a gluten-free hard cider at 5 percent alcohol by volume that is recommended for pairing with roasted pork or smoked meats, as well as sharp blue or cheddar cheeses.
In the glass, it has a golden color of a lighter apple juice with good carbonation. The green-apple aromas and a slight hint of sweetness jump out of the glass at you. The palate bursts with apple flavors, with green apple predominating, and some juicy white apple in the background, both evincing a sweetness that is well-integrated. Tannins are low and the alcohol level of 5 percent is also very well-integrated with high flavor intensity.
I would agree with the food pairings but also note that it is certainly ready willing and able to be enjoyed on its own. Bread pudding and apple pie are also mentioned as possible dessert combos.
Green Apple is available in six-packs with a suggested retail price of $7.99 to $9.99. It's also available in mixed 12-packs.
From Middlebury, Vt., comes Woodchuck Hard Cider's Cellar Series Chocolate, which weighs in at 6.9% alcohol by volume in a 22-ounce bottle. (The makers hasten to inform us that the cider is made from apples, not woodchucks). In this case, in addition to the apples there is an infusion of crushed cacao beans.
So, we move now to a darker shade of amber, similar in color to an India pale ale. And yes, it is a rich aroma of chocolate that rises from the glass, so rich that it makes you wish you had a chocolate bar sitting right next to you to munch on.
The apples are on the palate, and blend beautifully with the chocolate that was in the nose for an off-dry presentation; it is less a sweetness than the rich flavor of good chocolate. The acidity is good, the carbonation is light and the body is medium. Very good quality and an intriguing mix of components.
Perfect for pairing with chocolate desserts, fruit desserts that you wish had chocolate in them, or drinking on its own.
Contact local beer and wine writer Jim Beauregard at firstname.lastname@example.org.