Here at CiderScene, we do our absolute best to showcase those smaller craft cideries, special releases, and limited editions that may otherwise go unnoticed by many of the mainstream cider drinkers out there. However, we’re not the only ones (with twins at the head, I might add) trying to spread the word and share the wealth. This review would not have been possible without DoubleCider, a monthly cider subscription service working to help cider producers reach otherwise impossible regions and you, our cider seekers.
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A couple weeks ago, I was able to try Double Cider’s January Box. For those of you who don’t know (you should probably check out our previous post about their November box here), Double Cider is a monthly cider subscription dedicated to helping out some of the smaller cideries reach out to consumers that they wouldn’t normally be able to reach. In this month’s box, I discovered Bristol Cider and Guthrie Cider, both of which are California based cideries.
Bristol’s Cider is located in Atascadero, CA and is owned and operated by a brother and sister duo, Neil and Jackie, as well as Neil’s wife Marci. The siblings grew up in Bristol, right in the middle of cider country, until Neil moved to California where he was disappointed to discover the lack of the fermented apple beverage he had known and loved. So, in 1994, Neil began brewing his own small-batch ciders with local apples until it grew into what it is today. All of their ciders are made from 100% apple juice and fermented on native yeasts of the fruit.
Black Bart is a single varietal granny smith cider, meaning that it was fermented with only granny smith apples. It’s hopped with English-style hops and conditioned with Saison yeast. It is highly carbonated with heavy foam on the pour, similar to that of champagne. The foamy head settles down pretty quickly, but tiny bubbles can be seen continuously forming at the top of the glass. Black Bart is a hazy light brown in color, something that can be attributed to a process called bottle conditioning. This means that it is a live product. Bottle conditioned ciders, or beers for that matter, have active yeast cultures remaining in them once they are bottled. The yeast continues to mature and ferment while in the bottle, which allows the flavor to deepen and become more complex as well as naturally carbonate the beverage, rather than the force-carbonation process that is typically used.
Because this cider is brewed with Saison yeast, the scent is much like that of a lager. If you were to open the bottle without checking the label, in fact, you might actually think that you had a beer in front of you rather than a cider. The same goes for the taste. This cider is dry and resembles the tasting notes of a lager, but finishes with the tartness of a granny smith. The flavor is not overpowering in the way of a cider or a beer, however, and is a good choice for those looking to transition from one to the other. This cider measures in at 7.5% ABV, which is considered on the higher end for ciders.
Guthrie Ciderworks is a small family cidery located in San Diego, CA and both owned and operated by the Devoto family. The company is a tribute to the family’s British side and British-style ciders. Both of their varieties of cider are on the drier side, in true British fashion.
Guthrie’s Dry Cider comes in a 22 oz bottle and is the only bottled cider made by the company. It is a crisp golden yellow which can easily be seen through the clear bottle. It isn’t highly carbonated and the scent is very subtle, yet fruit-forward.
Dry Cider tastes like, well, a dry cider! It is very straight-forward, not super complex, and has a fresh, crisp, and light taste. The flavor remains pretty consistent throughout the sip with a fruit-forward apple flavor without any added complexity from various spices or other fruits. It is, however, aged in oak barrels, giving a little bit of depth to the dry, crisp blend. Guthrie’s Dry Cider measures up at 7.7%, which, again, is on the higher side for ciders.