Working at a private liquor store has taught me that I know nothing about cider. Wanting to understand this craze was my mission and I have since discovered a few things about myself, as well as opened up my palette. ;)
First things first, most ciders are divided into dry or sweet categories, similar to wine. This makes sense because wine is made from grapes and cider is usually made from apples or pears. The thing that I like the most about cider is that it has a more “grown-up” taste to it than coolers (or BC “Growers” ciders, yuck) and also, it does not leave you feeling bloated like beer tends to. A drier cider will taste somewhat like a dry white wine, without the acidic taste sometimes found in the finish (obviously, that’s going to depend on the quality and varietals used to produce the wine but need a base of comparison for those who have not adventured into ciders, yet), whereas a sweeter cider can range from tasting like a light soda to fruit juice.
- Tod Creek Apple Cider (Vancouver Island, BC)
- Rekorderlig Elderflower Pear Cider (Sweden)
- Leftfield Big Dry Apple Cider (Okanagan, BC)
- Leftfield Little Dry Apple Cider (Okanagan, BC)
- Tod Creek Apple Cider “Bamfield Bound” Semi-dry with Maple Syrup (Vancouver Island, BC)
- Tod Creek Apple Cider “Mala-hop” Dry with Triple Hops (Vancouver Island, BC)
I did a side-by-side comparison tasting at home and these are my tasting notes:
- Smells like apple juice but has a dry, simple, clean flavour.
- Smells like pear, tastes very sweet, reminds me of a more sophisticated Growers.
- Has no discernible smell, rich apple flavour, dry, slight tartness, complex.
- Smells like sweet apple juice, tastes sweet apple juice and more tartness than the LF Big Dry.
- Does not have a strong maple syrup flavour but does taste like a “semi-dry”, as it tasted equally as dry and it did sweet.
- Smells like hops, tastes dry, has a gentle hop aftertaste.
After this endeavour, I decided I greatly preferred sweet ciders to dry ciders, and that I also prefer pear ciders to apple ciders (if you are anywhere near Montreal, there’s a fantastic ice pear cider made by a couple living on a rural Québéc farm, which they sell at Marché Jean-Talon!)
To further quench my thirst for (mostly pear) cider, I also tried the following ciders after my home sampler:
- Magner’s Pear Cider: dry, simple flavour, tasted like slightly flavoured soda water
- Sir Perry Pear Cider: tasted fine at first but had this awful aftertaste that tasted slightly sour and made me think I was drinking effervescent urine. We poured it down the drain.
- Kopparberg Pear Cider: YUM. Sweet without being as sweet as the Rekorderlig, had a bit of a cream soda aftertaste.
- Rekorderlig Apple & Blackcurrant Pear Cider: Very sweet, complex fruit flavour, pairs with desserts nicely.
- Sea Cider Bramble Bubbly: Slight berry flavoured cider, medium sweet/dryness.
I may not enjoy cider as much as I enjoy beer or cocktails, but if I am looking for something cold that requires no preparation, I might reach for a can of cider in with my beers for a summer’s eve.