Put up your hand, all of you who think that most cider tastes the same, be it sweet or dry. Now, keep your hands up, I want all of you to pitch in with 6 friends on a cider tasting. You will soon learn the error of your whimsical thoughts.
I like cider, mostly, the dry, British style. In my recent trip to Britain and France (where cider brewing cut it's teeth), I sampled all the cider I could get my lips on. And after this recent tasting, I would say that BC cider wins the respect of my palate and liver. I am NOT talking about the Okanagan Springs variety of cider. You know, that disgusting, head-splittingly sweet brew that you drank when you could still get drunk off one bottle of booze. In our tasting of 5 local ciders, all of them were starkly different and pleased different tastes.
Here are the notes of 4 very dedicated cider lovers:
1. Cyser, Merridale, BC - $6.55, 341ml, 10% alc
A lovely med sweet mild cider. Very traditional, crab apple notes. Tied for first place!
2. Sommerset, Merridale, BC - $20.85, 750ml, 7.8% alc
This was reminiscent of champagne (they probably use champagne yeast to start the fermentation), the sweetest of the bunch, but still very pleasant, simple and fruity, not worth the price in my mind.
3. Pippins, Sea Cider, BC - $19.25, 750ml, 9.5% alc
Very British traditional, dry, lemony tart with a buttery finish. Excellent, the gateway drink for people who think they don't like cider.
4. Rumrunner, Sea Cider, BC - $18.50, 750ml, 12% alc
Love it or lump it, two of us went nuts over this one, but the other two tasters weren't impressed. Dry and refreshing, but with a counterpoint of caramel and sweet tobacco, this cider was aged in rum barrels. You have to try it!
5. Spire Mountain, WA - $9.15, 650ml, 5% alc
No one liked this one, though the price is admirable. It was a medium sweet, fruit forward yawn of a drink.
I leave with a profound respect for the cider producers on Vancouver Island. Sea Cider wins hands down for me.
Note: You can buy all these lovely ciders for your own tasting at Brewery Creek Liquor Store on Main St in Vancouver. The prices were hiked after I wrote this article, by around a buck each bottle? Weird, I've correct the prices here.