Tasting the New Ciders
BLACK RAT CIDERS
This Australian import, fermented from fruit grown outside of Adelaide, comes in three flavors. The Black Rat Premium Australian Cider is pale gold, light-bodied, refreshing and tart. The Black Rat Lemon Cider is a pale straw color and has an unusually spritzy carbonation that reminds one of an Alka-Seltzer Plus. The Black Rat Blackcurrant Cider has a deep magenta color, a Welch’s Grape Juice aroma, and a jammy flavor with hints of blackberry or raspberry. Alcohol is 4.9 percent abv. Imported by Global Beverage Inc. of Fairfax, VA; available in Washington, DC and northern Virginia.
These ciders are made in British Columbia using Macintosh, Spartan, Newton and other apple varieties. Wader’s Dry Pear Cider has a floral, almost perfumy fragrance and a crisp, somewhat acidic flavor. Wyder’s Dry Peach Cider has a similarly appetizing aroma and an almost medicinal dryness that makes it an excellent thirst quencher (the press kit claims, interestingly, that it has fewer calories than light beer). A straight apple cider and raspberry cider complete the line-up. Four to 5 percent abv. Available in California and surrounding states, and Georgia.
BORDELET SYDRE DOUX
This French import, in a 25.4 oz. corked bottle, has a honey-golden color, a lively, fine-bead carbonation and a flavor of freshly sliced apples with a dash of tannin in the finish. It’s also organic. Sydre Doux (4 percent abv) is imported in the East by Dionysos Imports of Lorton, VA and in the West by Beaune Imports.
ACE FERMENTED HONEY CIDER
Perhaps the only commercially available example of a “cyser”: a cider fermented or sweetened with honey. The California Hard Cider Co. makes this one with 5 percent Sonoma County wildflower honey, whose distinctive perfume is evident in the aroma. Ace Honey (6 percent) has a golden hue, a rich, full-bodied flavor and a tart finish reminiscent of sour cherries. Other labels include Ace Apple, Ace Pear and Ace Berry. Available in select markets nationwide.
HARDCORE BLACK CIDER
HardCore Cider Co. is a division of Boston Beer Co. The black cider (actually, it’s a deep purplish color) was introduced in 1998, and has a sweet, fruity flavor from the use of caramelized apple juice, and a slightly astringent finish as a result of being aged with oak chips. Alcohol is 6 percent by volume.
Greg Kitsock is the editor of Mid-Atlantic Brewing News, a long-time resident of Washington, DC, and a frequent contributor to beer-related publications.