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Sunday, April 5, 2009

J.K. Scrumpy's Hard Cider

Well, I had another cider, J.K. Scrumpy's Farmhouse Sparkling Hard Cider, Orchard Gate Gold. A long name, yes, but I liked it. The ingredients are listed as "Fresh apple juice, yeast." It is USDA Certified Organic -- take that for what it's worth, I know a lot of people bitch about this, but it's not meaningless -- unfiltered, and they say they grow, harvest, and press all the apples right there on their farm in Flushing, Michigan. Take a look. If something shady is going on here -- as someone rather vehemently told me is going on with Crispin -- it's beyond me what it is.

Bruce Wright, the fellow from Scrumpy who sent me the sample, asked me to "Please remember we decided not to emulate English, Norman, or Spanish cider, rather a American cider with our apples." I find that interesting and notable, especially as a bourbon drinker.

And it was quite different from those. It was sweet, but not the soda-sweet that disagrees with me in too many commercial ciders; this was a round, full sweetness that tasted like real apple juice, the kind of rich fruit flavor I love in vineyard grape juice. It was sweetness with depth and flavor. Not all that is sweet is insipid or stupid; just have a good doublebock and you'll know that. This is quite tasty, and it was delicious with a slice of a beautiful big miche I bought on Friday, and enticingly friendly with some French double creme cheese I got at the same time. There was one moment of mouthful when everything came together so well -- apple sweetness bringing out cheese richness, wild-yeast bread bringing out hint of cider tart/tannin, smooth paste of cheese crashing into solid bread structure -- that I moaned. And was immediately glad that no one was around to hear me.

I may have to have the other bottle with dinner: a leg of lamb with garlic and rosemary. Sounds pretty damned good to me. Although maybe that's the 22 oz. of 6% cider talking.


sam k said...

One of the things I've hoped to avoid in our relationship is your moaning, one way or the other. I'm glad you enjoyed the cider, and I'm equally as glad not to have heard you moan.

Since Keewaydin has now bottled their Pennsylvania cider (I had one with dinner, dry and crisp), I guess I hope you'll moan when you have theirs, too, but again, I hope I'm not there to hear it.

Bill said...

The Crispin review you link to doesn't have anybody revealing the devious goings-on! Curious minds want to know!

By the way, I don't know this from experience because i never bother to pull out the hydrometer, but when I made cider, the books I used DID say that it was possible (and common) to get a final gravity below 1.000, and they said wine yeasts resulted in dryer ciders, presumably because they could tolerate higher levels of alcohol. My assumption is that this would be important if said ciderer was adding additional sugar sources to the cider to aim for a higher-alcohol cider... but I'm not sure why that would matter for the one in question.

Lew Bryson said...

My personal (mental) jury is still out on the whole Crispin "controversy," but I'm investigating. For now, I'm going to let that be. Sorry. Interesting addition on your part, though.

Let's keep the moaning out of this!

Aunt Martha said...

I'm a newcomer to making scrumpy, using wild pioneer-planted apples here on the Oregon coast. My finished scrumpy is very dry, clear and still. I've also experimented adding other local fruits--huckleberries or cranberries. Haven't had one I didn't like. But I only allow natural yeasts to do the work and then add tiny amounts of sugar as the fermentation lags to maximize the finished ethanol content. I don't have any equipment yet, but I'm guessing the final concentration is around 9%. Visit my blog at if you want to read about my trials and tribs.