Organic farmhouse cider, Orchard Gate Gold, 6.0% ABV
Almar Orchards, Flushing, MI
By Bill Lau
Posted September 18, 2015
I’ve been reading World’s Best Ciders by Pete Brown and Bill Bradshaw (Sterling Epicure, 2013) and learning about the history and lore of cider. In most places around the world, cider refers to the fermented beverage; it seems that only in the US do we use the term to mean sweet, unfermented apple juice (perhaps a side-effect of Prohibition?). So we modify the term by adding “hard” to denote the fermented version. (And as a short aside, am I the only one who finds myself craving whatever beverage I’m reading about? I simply cannot read one of these types of books without becoming thirsty for the subject of interest. But I digress.)
Now, I happen to be a big fan of the fresh-pressed, unfiltered stuff, especially if it’s not Pasteurized. There are some local farms in the Dayton-Cincinnati corridor that make excellent sweet cider, and I always have to get my fill every year starting in late summer. But I don’t always want a sweet drink, and I’m gaining an appreciation of the fermented variety more and more, especially as I read about it and find good examples of traditional ciders to try.
Described on the website as being somewhere between an English Scrumpy and a Normandy Cidre, and made with only two ingredients – organic apples and yeast, this is a traditional, still cider. As a traditional & artisanal style cider, it is also very much a seasonal product tied directly to the apple harvest. When the apples are ready, they have to be milled, pressed (to extract those marvelous juices & sugars), blended, fermented, and then aged. Each year’s harvest will differ depending on weather and such, so the resulting cider may also vary. Traditional ciders can also weigh in up to wine-like ABV levels, although this particular cider is on a par with many craft beers at 6%.
(Those only familiar with mass market cider brands should note that in order to make their product available year-round, consistent from batch to batch, and meet price-points, the producers typically have to rely on juice concentrates and often on added sugars and even flavors. Just a difference in the styles to be aware of.)
But enough of the super-brief cider basics, and on to the tasting notes!
Appearance (5/5): Presents a bright & clear, deep golden hue kissed by amber. Very pretty.
Aroma (8/10): Tart, zippy aroma with apple and some earthy & bready notes, and a hint of wild yeast funk.
Palate (4/5): Lighter body but with slightly viscous texture, it glides over the tongue with a buttery, velvet kiss.
Taste (8/10): Bright, crisp & mouth-puckeringly tart apple with a buttery note. Carries some wine-like character with delightful tannins. Slight yeastiness flits past, followed by an earthy touch into the pleasantly tart finish. Quite refreshing and tasty.
Overall (16.7/20): My kind of cider – has that tartness & tannin that I find so very pleasing.
Disclosure: The author has received no reimbursement or compensation for this article. All opinions and remarks are those of the author alone.