East Vs West Coast: Pumpkin Ciders
Is the West Coast the best coast? Is the East Coast the beast coast? We don’t care to play favorites, so we wanted to give you a taste of the holidays from both ends of the states. What speaks to the holidays like pumpkin products?
And, if cider didn’t have a pumpkin blend, do cidermakers really enjoy the season? I say no. Here are two ciders from different sides of our country doing their best with pumpkin.
West Coast: Ace Hard Pumpkin Cider
When autumn arrives in Southern California, the leaves don’t change and the weather stays warm. The sandals and shorts remain on and your days at the beach are simply less crowded. However, once Labor Day is done, the full force of fall goes into effect. Halloween Horror Nights begin, Trader Joe’s goes nutty for all things squash, and the signature pumpkin spice latte returns. Don’t fret, cider drinkers! Alongside those Oktoberfest ales are your breath of fall air: California Cider Company’s ACE Pumpkin Cider.
A seasonal treat, ACE takes its house cider made from six varieties of dessert apples before adding pumpkin, cinnamon, cloves, and allspice. It is the essence of autumn in a bottle, coming in at an enjoyable 5% ABV available in 12 or 22 ounces. Sticking to their classic playing card label design, this bottle is the ACE of Pumpkins in perfect orange and black fashion for your fright night festivities. Personally, we were pumped to try it if only to enter an imaginary state of autumn east coast style.
The pour revealed some small bubbles and a thin lacing around the edges, a calmer reaction than expected due to the use of champagne yeast. The color is a deep, crystalline gold with an orange hue, much like the warm glow of candlelight flickering out of a jack ‘o’ lantern. Still, in the bottle, it was hard to discern many scents past the cloves. Once in a glass, the aroma expands to include hints of crisp apple and earthy pumpkin with the inviting overtones of woody cloves paired with fiery cinnamon. Sounds like an autumn walk in the woods, right?
My Thanksgiving spirit was already invigorated, so I grabbed two glasses and shared a drink with my housemate. Her first reaction was, “It’s like fall in my mouth.” It really is. Bright in flavor, yet smooth in terms of carbonation, this cider tricks your tongue into thinking it has a thicker body due to the full pumpkin pie effect. It’s liquid gold if you prefer to drink your food. In truth, the mouthfeel is thinner due to the fine filtering process ACE Ciders conducts.
Perhaps misled by my nose, I believed the cider to be overly sweet in the first few sips. As the flavors unfold though, the pumpkin pleasantly balances the sweetness of the dessert apples while the rich spices tie together the flavor profile, adding an almost peppery finish that warms you inside and out. As your palette begins to cool, this finish molds into a bitter, somewhat tinny taste. With cloves, this can happen. The solution? Open another bottle and share the fall feeling with friends. It’s a commodity in SoCal, so we’re happy to share a slice…bottle.
East Coast: Downeast Unfiltered Pumpkin Blend Cider
Break out your sweaters! Downeast Cider’s Pumpkin Blend is their seasonal fall cider and it epitomizes a fall day here in New England. Based in East Boston, and having attended college in Maine, Ross and Tyler don’t mess around when it comes to fall. Take the most delicious fresh pressed apple cider, add fresh pumpkin puree and some chai spices and you have a basic fall dream in a can. However, Downeast makes this beverage anything but basic.
The can itself is reason enough to purchase this product. The imagery depicts a pumpkin patch with some Halloween-esque features, such as bats and spider webs, which should be enough to get you in the spirit of the season.
Upon opening the can (don’t forget to shake first!), you’ll get a strong scent of cinnamon and chai spices, or, as some may call it, the scent of fall. When poured, it has the same cloudy unfiltered look as all of their products, with a pale orange color to it.
The first sip is very strongly accented by cinnamon and may come as a surprise at first, but don’t be alarmed. The flavors blend well together and are an easily acquired taste. With every sip, you get the flavor of the apples, the pumpkin, the cinnamon, and the chai. This mostly sweet cider is very smooth and has hardly any bitterness or dryness to it. If you’re a fan of all things pumpkin spice, stock up on this blend before the season ends.
Have you had either of these ciders? Do you think your coast has the better pumpkin cider (even one we didn’t mention)?