Saturday, January 17, 2009

Crispin Brut Cider

I got a press release from Crispin Ciders a few weeks ago. I'm not a fan of most of what gets sold as "hard cider" in the U.S.; it's...well, I already said all of that here, no need to repeat (thanks, Tim Berners-Lee). So when they said things like "dry vs. sweet, and crisp not 'sticky' on the palate," they had my attention. I e-mailed back and asked how they made their cider. They sent me a sampler of five bottles (two Brut, two Original, and one Light) and some details.

Crispin's made from apple juice (not from concentrate), fermented with red wine yeast (not sure why that's a good thing, but...), and without added sugar, color, preservatives, or any alcohol not from apple juice. Well, we're off to a good start, then, although it did weird me out a bit that they insisted that it be enjoyed over ice; it's even the name of their website: www.crispinoverice.com.

I sat the bottles out on the deck, as you see, figuring I might as well get some benefit out of our cold wave (it was 2.5 F last night, which is cold enough for this area). I filled the Crispin glass they'd sent (one of those 'mini-hefe' glasses, nice enough) with ice cubes, and poured in a bottle of the Brut, which was the one I was interested in. It was obviously cold enough out on the deck: the cider slushed up as it hit the ice. It was quite bright (once it warmed up a bit), a fairly pale golden color, and smelled like fresh, tart apples. The taste was not sloppy sweet at all, but tart, full of apple flavor, and -- indeed -- crisp, with a good release, even a bit of tannin.

It was not particularly complex, though, like an Aspall or Dupont, and that's where I found it somewhat lacking. It's a much better drink than the typical cloyingly sweet ciders you get in bars the U.S. (and yes, I'm talking about the usual Woodchuck, and Ace, and Strongbow), but it still seems focused on the refreshment angle, rather than the flavor angle. At least, that's how it seems to me; maybe I'm looking for too much. So, an option, perhaps, but not a go-to beverage. I'll be giving the Original a shot soon, and see how that goes.

14 comments:

Andrew said...

The wine yeast will ferment the cider down further leaving less sweetness behind, and making it dryer.

jakester said...

Hell, my dad drinks Phoenix Pale Ale over ice. I wonder if it would be more flavorful without? It's gotta dilute it somewhat.

Lew Bryson said...

I had a boss back when I was summer-jobbing in college who always drank his beer with ice in the summer. I suspect it's an old guy thing. Although I did just run up some "beer cocktails" that used ice for a magazine pitch. You can add stuff, stir with ice, and as the ice melts, the flavor of the drink definitely changes, and it's not just dilution. Cocktails and ice: not just about chilling and dilution.

John said...

Hey Lew, looking at your picture, it looks like you left your water hose hooked up to the house. You might want to check and make sure your pipe didn't freeze.

BTW, I tried the Crispin on the rocks and thought it was refreshing (if not overly complex). A good summertime, next to the pool, refresher.

Anonymous said...

Another decent alternative to the mass-market sugary ciders:

http://www.wvwinery.com/cider_02.html

Lew Bryson said...

Thanks, John: no fear, I turned the water off at the inside shut-off. It's just such a pain re-threading it under the deck that I left the hose in place.

Anonymous said...

i saw a guy drink michelob ultra on ice i should have called the cops . the beer is bad enough but on ice

Anonymous said...

Have you tried any scrumpy? Typically cloudy, flat and dry with some having quite high abvs (over 6% for some), they are among the more interesting ciders I've had (although I do like the Normandy types also).

Lew Bryson said...

I've not had a chance at scrumpy; love to try some, it's been kind of a quest for me, without any kind of success...

Rich said...

Wow...its quite pale in color...interesting. Definately a must try, I wonder if it will be available in this area any time? I would have to agree with you on commercial ciders...haven't found many I like, then again, I'm biased to my own cider (er, rocket fuel).

Russ said...

"The wine yeast will ferment the cider down further leaving less sweetness behind, and making it dryer."

Andrew (if you happen to come back to this post): Have you noticed that from experience? I once made a batch of cider and fermented half with cider yeast and half with an ale yeast and both dropped down to 1.000. I can't imagine a wine yeast bringing it much lower.

Lew Bryson said...

Russ,
Thanks for the comment. I wondered about that myself, and I think it's got to be more about the aromatics and flavors the wine yeast generates. How many different strains of cider yeast are available? Anyone know?

brett said...

When we were in Scotland this summer, they typically served ciders over ice. Apple, pear, whatever. We were told that was how they are traditionally served there?

Lew Bryson said...

News to me, Brett. I'd question anything as basic and natural as cider served over ice as being 'traditional.'