Monday, November 28, 2011

An Apple a Day...

Howdy everybody—I'm back—and without a beer related post, too! It's cool though, see up there, where it says drinkdrank, no where does it mention beer. Okay it does say beery blog, but it also says other notions. Those are the notions I'm going to talk about in this post—specifically apple-borne notions. That's right, cider. Not only am I going to just talk about cider, I'm also going to have a guest help out. My wonderful, albeit anti-beer, but pro-cider wife Amy has been dragged into  agreed to give her input on a few fermented Malus domesticus offerings. She has absolutely no interest in doing this, but I think, she thinks that her participation in this will get me to vacuum the downstairs.

First off, an introduction. Say hi to the folks, Am.


She is, in actuality, upstairs giving the kids a bath, but I thought it was rude not to do some sort of introduction. Never mind that—on with the show.

What are the chances I'm going to get
sued for putting this on here?
I will admit, I'm not much of a cider drinker. I like it, but I'm just more drawn to beer. Recently though, I have been more and more interested in the whole cider process. A few months ago, Columbus Day weekend actually, the family and I took a trip to Broadalbin, New York and Eagle Mills, operators one of the oldest cider presses in the United States. Eagle Mills has a home-spun, pick-your-own apple orchard feel, without the apple orchard. It's a straight up cider mill and from what I can tell, cidering seems to be amazingly simple (easy for me to say, in front of my computer.) Seriously though, it's pretty straight forward: Get apples, wash apples, grind apples into pulpy-chunky-stuff, press pulpy-chunky stuff under a shit ton of weight and collect the run-off. Boom! there's your raw material, now just get some sugar, camden tablets, yeast and a couple of weeks and viola—cider! So, easy even I could do it—but I didn't. I did, however pick up a few commercially produced ciders—one Irish, one American and one English—and figured this was the perfect way to spend some quality time with my wife. Not a fancy dinner or a lovely drive in the county—no sir, a good, old-fashioned, cider tasting—the most romatic of all husbandly gestures.

Up first, the Irish offering—Magners Original, made by Bulmers (apparently it's also sold, in Ireland, as Bulmers) in Clonmel, County Tipperary. It poured a rosy amber hue with a good bit of carbonation. It had a sweet apple aroma with a decidedly Chardonnay-like edge. Amy picked up on that as well.

"It's a little winey, but sweet" said said as she quietly smacked her lips (That's how I know she's really tasting something.) I held my tongue on making a whiney joke. I can't blow this whole thing this early on.

I got a good bit of the dry white wine quality out of it as well. It's sweet and slightly tart—cidery and wine- like at the same time. Other than that, it's a little one note.

All right, back to U.S.A—Middlebury, Vermont, in fact—and to a sample of, arguably the best know American-made cider—Woodchuck Amber. Pouring, it's more golden than the Magners and has a far less Chardonnay-ish aroma, and it's flavor is rounder and mellower.

"Smell it. What's it smell like?" I asked as I handed Amy her glass.

"It smells like, uh, cider." She answered..

"No, I mean, do you smell anything else?" I ask as I placed my nose into the mouth of my pint glass. "I'm getting honey, do you smell honey, too?"

Having been looking down into the pint for most of this interaction, I slowly moved my eyes up, to look at her over the rim of the glass. Amy's answer was simply a look. Those of you who collect baseball cards, comic books, models of the the entire United Federation of Planets fleet of star ships, work on cars or fanatically follow any number of sports teams, will know this look. It's the "Please don't get to excited and get any of your geekness on me" look. I've pushed it to far—I'm going to lose her. Abort! Abort! See the difference between wives and friends, when it comes to specific nerdiness, is that friends will hear you out—wives just walk away. Especially in situations like this.

"What? No, never mind—what do you think?" I ask, attempting to rewind and erase.

"I think I like this one more than the other one." She said after a sip or two.

See what happens when you try and do things as a couple? Let's just move on to the Blackthorn, the UK's offering. I've heard some rumblings on the interwebs that Blackthorn isn't a true cider—that it's mass produced by the cider mafia or something. You know what I don't care. It poured, from the can, a bright, fizzy gold and had a great apple aroma. It wasn't too sweet or to winey—just pure apple. Of the three ciders it had the most apple-ish flavor, as well. It's very crisp and a bit tart, slightly sweet and almost woody. The true test, however, is with Amy. No prompting or encouragement from me, just a simple, "try this"

"Mmm" she smiled as she quietly smacked her lips.

And there you go. Blackthorn is the great equalizer. The moral of the story, although, isn't who makes a better cider—The UK, US, or Ireland. It's the fact that when my Amy says "You spent how MUCH on beer?!" I can simply say, "Yes, but look what I got for you!"

As those of you who are married know, that's all that matters.


  1. The voice of a happily married man. Entertaining.

    In Salem, Oregon, the Wandering Aengus cidermaster was a friend. His business was/is enjoying significant growth. They recently moved into a new cidery. Their product is distribute to at least a dozen states including: NY and Penn.

    If you see it, give Wandering Aengus cider a try.

  2. I'll keep an eye out of it. My local beer store just put in more shelves for cider, so I'm going to explore. This morning my daughter was watching PBS and kids were pressing apples in a wine press to make cider. That got me a thinkin'....