We recently connected with Arsenal Cider House, a Civil-War-themed small batch winery specializing in hard apple ciders, wines, and meads. They opened their doors in 2010, becoming the first cidery in western Pennsylvania. Their focus is on providing high-quality products in a friendly atmosphere from the historic Allegheny Arsenal (hence the name). As we see it Arsenal has been part of the pioneering of cider and pushing the boundaries of cider flavors since the start of the US cider boom. We had a chance to receive their “arsenal” of products and we were ready to stand in line and follow tasting orders. The ciders we will focus on, and wish we rationed, were the Picket Bone Dry, Alfred’s Pear Son, and Herron’s Honeycrisp.
Picket Bone Dry is named after soldiers who were posted on guard ahead of the main force, serving as the main warning to the rest of the force in the case of an enemy attack. This cider serves as one of the core ciders for the Arsenal brand. This cider is a very light and drinkable cider that is not overly sweet. On the nose, there is an expected sharp apple smell with a bit of yeasty and floral notes. The color of the cider is very light and the body is delicate with little carbonation. The flavor starts with a light tartness and tang before it turns to a slight tartness on the back of the tongue to finish. There is a nice balance of acidity and dryness from the cider. This cider gets 4.25 out of 5 apples.
This semi-sweet pear cider is named after Civil War general Alfred Pearson. This is a lightly carbonated sweet cider that is similar in color to the Picket Bone Dry. This cider was slightly more yellow in hue, cloudier and fuller in body than the other cider. Since this is a pear cider, there is a flavor of earthy pear and definitive bitter, buttery notes. The cider starts off sweet and buttery yet ends with a quickly-diminishing bitter flavor. The sweetness is the most assertive flavor, but there is a nice blended depth that brings you back for another taste. his cider gets 4 out of 5 apples.
This semi-sweet cider comes in at 8.5% and is made with honey crisp apples, of course. Again, this cider had a nice light color and was very clear with a slight yellow hue. The scent is much like the flesh of a fresh farm-picked Honeycrisp apple. On the taste, you get the light honey sweetness of the apple and a crisp cider bite. Since this is a semi-sweet, there is a decent amount of sugar upfront to draw you in with a clean apple-forward finish. The cider is well balanced. If you enjoy Honeycrisp like we do over here at CiderScene, you will enjoy this. This cider gets 4.5 out of 5 apples.
Make sure to try their ciders when you are in the Pennsylvania area or stop over to their cidery. The best part is when you grab a growler and get your military rankings. As you can see from the photos we were Major CiderScene and we fulfilled our duties by enjoying every last drop of their ciders! For more information and historical facts on the cidery make sure to check out their website at http://www.arsenalciderhouse.com/.