Ahh, Fall. The weather starts to cool off, leaves change, children go back to school. Fall also brings two great things; Oktoberfest and fall ciders. Oktoberfest allows the flavors of German Pilsners to be tasted. A score of communities brush the dust off the Lederhosen and break out the Steins for strong flavor German beers. An often overlooked craze is the orchards breaking out the myriad of apples to be consumed and fermented. Whether you enjoy a good dry or a sweet cider, this is the best time of year to try something different.
While hard ciders are not a large part of the fall harvest compared to the Oktoberfest beers, they hold a distinct change from the normal craft beers you may enjoy. Whether it is the dry English pub cider like Woodpecker or the breakout flavors from Angry Orchard, there is a great selection out there if you have not been exposed to hard ciders. The unique one sampled this weekend was Dry Hop from the new Cellar Series by Woodchuck Cidery from Vermont.
This cider is the first of the Cellar Series and is infused with hops. It comes in a bomber (22 oz) bottle so it is easy to share with another, if you really want to. The scent is pleasant, nice slight tartness of the apples is dominant with not much on the hop scent. It pours with a quickly dissipating slight head but retains a nice carbonation level. Color is pale and very clear with a straw color throughout. The flavor is dry with a minute bit of sweetness clinging on the back of the first swallow. There is a slight bit of hopiness to the aftertaste but not very robust. Overall, a very refreshing dry cider that may be hopped but does not seem very heavy at all in the hop-flavor or hop-bitterness.
Woodchuck has a great deal of offerings in year-round and seasonal ciders. If you enjoy a good hard cider, it might not hurt to try a sampler or just a random cider from them. There are other ciders out there so if you haven’t gone the cider route yet, it is definitely worth the try to mix things up. Sweet, semi-sweet or dry, they all allow discerning tastes to sprout more experience.