If Samuel Adams and Blue Moon are the gateway to craft beers, than Woodchuck is the gateway to hard cider. The flagship amber cider has long been a ubiquitous bottled offering at bars in Upstate New York, a nod to the fact that not everyone wants beer or hard liquor. The amber was my introduction to the genre, a luxury during my less-dignified freshman and sophomore years of drinking (I was on a budget, Woodchuck was expensive and I was going through a vodka phase at the time.).
As I developed my palate, I took a turn on Woodchuck. I still enjoyed the extra tart Granny Smith, and really liked the hard-to-find 802 dry cider, but was no longer a big fan of the Amber. It was heavy and filling. I would feel bloated after drinking one. Even The Wife found herself drinking one, nursing it through a meal or happy hour. She would eventually give it up, choosing a fruit beer or shandy over it.
I was mixing up a six-pack at Wegmans recently when I ran into the Out On A Limb series and the chocolate raspberry label. I grabbed one for The Wife because, well, I needed a sixth bottle and this looked different. Woodchuck already makes a raspberry cider year-round, as does Harvest Moon, Beak & Skiff/1911, and Doc’s Draft. The Out On A Limb label is Woodchuck’s new premium “handcrafted” line of ciders. By lending some cacao beans to the brewing and fermentation process, the cider gets a darker hue and faint chocolate flavor.
It’s not an everyday cider, but more like an after-dinner or dessert cider. It would probably taste very good over a couple of scoops of vanilla ice cream, like a float. On its own, it’s not quite ready for primetime. The bloat and fullness were resolved. Unless you like very sweet ciders, a six-pack will go a long way.
Brewer: Woodchuck Cidery
Beer: Out On A Limb Chocolate Raspberry Cider
Style: Hard cider
ABV: 5.0% IBU: n/a
Container: 12 oz. bottle
Price: n/a (purchased as part of a mixed pack) Point of Purchase: Wegmans, Syracuse, N.Y.
To The Eye: Copper with no foam.
To The Nose: As promised, berry with some bittersweet chocolate notes.
To The Palate: I tasted a hint of chocolate but the wife says its all raspberry. Very creamy, certainly creamier than any other raspberry cider I have tipped back.
Aftertaste: Sweet and fruity, but without that sickening, syrupy flavor.
Boozy Factor: Standard for a cider.
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: 7.5