My first cider experience, as I’m sure it was for many, was Woodchuck Hard Cider. Woodchuck, and now Angry Orchard, are the gateway to cider drinking. From here, you will find yourself exposed to the dry, farmhouse, sweet, and fruit ciders that dot the hard cider landscape. From Woodchuck, I found Strongbow and Magners, Harvest Moon and Nine Pin, cysers and meads from B. Nektar, and some of the wonderful imported French ciders that age much like wine.
While I enjoy fruit beers, I am not a big fan of fruit-infused ciders. While I enjoy ciders that incorporate the sharp contrasts in apple flavor (think Granny Smith or Honeycrisp), I don’t particularly enjoy artificially-flavored ciders. The reason is simple: they taste fake. McKenzie’s makes a nice black cherry cider, but it feels more like a dessert cider than a session drink. The Father particularly enjoys Harvest Moon’s raspberry varietal, which I find to be far too sweet. The Wife? She likes the lighter bodied ciders. Something about not wanting to feel bloated after one drink.
I was prowling around Abe’s Cold Beer in Bethlehem, Pa. during a late December visit and ran across a couple of flavors from a group called Ciderboys. At this point, I was looking for one single 12 oz. bottle to round out a six-pack so we could leave and head out to dinner. I chose this because, well, the thought of pineapple cider makes me gag.
Ciderboys is the cider brand of Stevens Point Brewery, a well-respected craft brewer from Wisconsin, and is available in 18 states (largely in the midwest and mid-Atlantic). Beyond their straight apple cider, they make seven flavors from pineapple to cranberry to an orange-flavored mimosa cider, blended to reflect the champagne-based brunch beverage.
It’s striking to pour something called “cider” and see pale orange. It’s carbonated but very subtly. In terms of taste, I found myself deferring to The Wife. Personally, I thought it tasted like sweet champagne and OJ poured from one of those diner juice dispensers where you know the owner has cranked up the water flow to save money on juice concentrate. The Wife found it smooth and highly drinkable, but certainly not the best cider that she has ever consumed. “I might just try mixing my own cider and champers down the road.”
Brewer: Ciderboys Hard Cider
Beer: Grand Mimosa
Style: Hard cider
ABV: 5.0% IBU: n/a
Container: 12 oz. bottle
Price: $2.59 Point of Purchase: Abe’s Cold Beer, Bethlehem, Pa.
To The Eye: Pale orange and hazy, like diluted orange juice
To The Nose: A strong non-alcoholic apple cider smell with faint citrus notes
To The Palate: Like a mimosa made with sweet champagne and diluted orange juice
Aftertaste: Acidic with a balance of artificial orange and n/a apple cider
Boozy Factor: Barely noticeable
On a Scale of 1 to 10, with 10 as highest: The Wife said 7.5. I’m a firm 6.5.