If you have been following along, then you know that at Beer Bettys we have been working our way down the long row of taps at The Mayor of Old Town, which are arranged by style. We covered “light” beers, wheat beers and pale ales thus far. Naturally, next would be IPAs, right? Not this week! We completely forgot the first few taps along the line, ciders. When I walked in and saw Strongbow and Woodchuck among the flight I was skeptical. Growing up I never drank juice or pop despite my families Pepsi obsession. It was just too sweet for me, and as I would say when I was young, “makes my mouth sticky”. I know now that sticky feeling is the dry lingering crispness that ciders and wines leave too, and I am still not a fan. The times I can recall drinking a cider, I’ve ended up mixing it with something like Young’s Double Chocolate Stout to cut the sweetness (which is a fabulous dessert spin off of a black and tan).
Michelle began by explaining to us how ciders are made. I am familiar with the process to make beer, but vaguely familiar with the process to make cider. I assumed you could make cider by just adding yeast to juice, and it is indeed exactly that. After fermenting your juice with yeast, you can let it age, depending on the recipe. Of course you can add other adjuncts too for flavor, such as sugar, which a lot do. We also learned that in the early American Colonial era cider houses were just as, if not more popular, than breweries. It was easier to produce apples in the Northeast, than grain, which often went to other food sources.
At the end of the flight, I still wasn’t sold on ciders. I did however gain a greater appreciation for them, and would be more likely to order a new cider in the future. My palate is not trained to taste cider, or wine for that matter, but I would love to expand my knowledge eventually. However, it is hard to drink ciders and wine when you are surrounded by so much delicious beer like we are here. There have been a couple of cider companies popping up around Colorado, and considering our breeding stock for beer, I am sure they ferment some great juices. Hopefully, I will have more chances in the future to try some locally crafted ciders.
I won’t be providing many tasting notes for this class. As I stated above, my palate isn’t ready to take these apart. I mean, who really wants to hear me say “apple” “dry” “sweet” a hundred times? I might even throw a couple “crisp”‘s in there.
Strongbow Cider (5.3% ABV)- Owned by Heineken, this across the pond cider can sometimes come in a can. It was golden in color, and has added sugar.
Woodchuck Pear Cider (4% ABV) – You have probably seen this one at your liquor store. Made in Vermont and distributed by InBev (Budweiser) this also has added sugar. It almost looked like water in the glass, had it not been for the carbonation. The sweetest of the 3, with added sugar, is was surprisingly my favorite. However, I think this is only because it was pear, and not apple. They make several different varieties including a raspberry and one using a Belgian yeast.
Julian Hard Cider (6.99% ABV)- This is one of the original recipes colonial Americans used and has been passed down through generations since 1670. Highly carbonated, it was almost like drinking champagne. It was my least favorite, but I seemed to be the minority in that as many Bettys ordered a full glass after their taster flight.
St. Lupulin (8.82% ABV)- Yes, I know, this is not a cider. It is however, one of Michelle’s (and mine) favorites and a great introduction to hops. You can read more about my experiences with the patron saint of hops, here.