For whatever reason, hard cider gets a bad rap in America. If I had two guesses, I would have to blame 1) the masculine drinking culture in the U.S., which puts a feminine twist on the age old alcoholic beverage and 2) the lack of variety. Cider, though, has a long and storied history in both Europe and America. First promoted as a beverage during the era of King Charlemagne, Founding Fathers John Adams, Ben Franklin and John Hancock were all noted drinkers who preferred cider to beer; for Adams, it was his breakfast drink of choice. As beer quickly gained popularity during the 19th century, there was less of a call for cider. 1
However, cider is growing in popularity, and one company in particular is brewing certified organic cider: Michigan-based Almar Orchard. Its J.K.’s Scrumpy Hard Cider, Orchard Gate Gold (OGG) is quickly becoming a favorite among foodies. The orchard was founded in the mid 19th century and has been producing cider for almost as long. The name “scrumpy” comes from a style of English cider characterized by a cloudy appearance and high alcohol content. According to the website, though, the brewers consider OGG “as a unique Artisan Michigan Farmhouse Cider, somewhere between English Scrumpy and a Normandy Cidre.” They use only two ingredients, apples and yeast, and it is gluten, sulfite, and sorbate free. Therefore the shelf life is not particularly long, and what you purchase should be fresh.
When you open up the bottle of OGG it is unmistakably apple juice. It pours, much like sparkling apple juice, a dark golden yellow, with a cloudy, unfiltered appearance. Unsurprisingly, on the nose OGG is very appley, with slightly tart overtones. The mouthfeel has a very mild to medium carbonation. Up front, the cider is very sweet and brings up memories of Thanksgivings of yore, when my parents purchased sparkling apple cider for us kids while they kicked back champagne. OGG is a bit more complex than sparkling cider, and finishes slightly tart and tangy, with a touch of alcohol (5.5% ABV). Overall, it is incredibly refreshing, and was a very nice addition to my Thanksgiving meal.
Generally, I do not partake in cider, however with more products like OGG being released, I hope that more orchards and breweries will examine the artisan farmhouse cider genre as a viable, masculine option.
1Smith, Greg. Beer: A History of Suds and Civilization from Mesopotamia to Microbreweries. Avon Books. 1995.
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