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Old 12-02-2008, 02:59 AM   #1
JoeSponge
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Default Commercial ciders at the local store...

Well, I racked off my first batch last night at home, and set it up for aging, and I started another batch using a gallon of Motts, 1 # of dark brown sugar, and Nottingham.

I haven't looked at the second batch in the apartment (store-brand apple juice w/ brown sugar and Montrachet), other than to make sure it hasn't caught fire or turned into a sentient being. It still has a ways to go, so I'm trying to be patient by not looking at it. Fail.

Anyway, I stopped by Whole Foods Market in our area, and wandered over to the beer section. I am not a beer-liker, so I looked for some cider to sample. At home, I have a hard time finding anything over than Woodchuck -- and usually have a hard time finding even that. Here, in NoVA, they have several brands that I have never seen. I tried to talk to one of the clerks, and as knowledgable as he was, nothing made sense to me. Descriptions like "fine" and "bright" mean nothing to me... Heh.

Here's a simple list of their offerings.
J K Scrumpy (what I originally wandered over for)
Black Thorn
Strong Bow
Hardcore (described as an upscale Woodchuck)
Aspall
Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche
Samuel Smith's Organic Cider
Harpoon
Floris Apple (not really a cider?)

The clerk also recommended Duchess do Bourgogne Flemish Brown Ale, which he said tastes like apple wine, but sure sounds like beer to me!

I don't doubt that there are hundreds of ciders out there, but I am pretty impressed that they had this many (including a couple that were out of stock, so I didn't get names).

Anyway, I got a Scrumpy, and also picked up the Samuel Smith's and the Aspall (a Normandy-style cider).

I am always surprised at the large variety of beers that the local grocery stores carry, and it's a pity that I don't like beer. I love to look at the labels and names. Pretty clever. They even had several local beers, including one from Richmond, Va (close to where I live).

I poured a glass of the Samuel Smith's and am sipping it now... it had a very acid smell on pouring. It was pretty plain and drier than I like, so I added a packet of Splenda. I am glad that I added the Splenda to a GLASS of cider, and didn't pour it into the bottle. Have you seen the "add Mentos to Coke" videos on youtube? :-D

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Old 12-02-2008, 03:05 AM   #2
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I did the same thing not 2 days ago but at World Market. I picked up 5 ciders and a pumpkin ale. My 5 ciders are not on your list and I've started adding them to the Commercial Review section of the forum. I'm drinking #2 (Original Sin) right now and about to post a review. I'd be interested on your opinions of the above ciders.

So far both commercial ciders have been bland. If you had your eyes closed you wouldn't know they were made with apples.

Strong Bow is the best commercial one I've found so far, but I've only ever had it on tap at a pub.

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Old 12-02-2008, 03:28 AM   #3
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I have drank cider almost exclusively ever since i started to like drinking, which is pretty much since highschool, i never liked beer very much because it alwasy tasted bitter to me... my two all time for sure ciders i buy at the stores are StrongBow and Black Thron... Sam Smiths and harpoon are alright and the best old stand by if your not sure is the WoodChuck Dark and Dry, or there new limited eddition oak aged which is amazingly good... by far the best is Strong Bow Draft Cider which you can only buy by the keg and it is the best i have ever had, i like to keep a keg in my only tap at home and i admit even the best of my best brew doesnt rival Strong Bow... and though it tends to be drier, so im not sure how you would like it... Drink your cider in good health

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Old 12-02-2008, 07:23 AM   #4
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Since I've discovered REAL cider, I have a hard time with most of the popular beverages that are called "cider." Samuel Smith's isn't bad, but way overpriced for what it is. Blackthorn & Woodchuck (in my not so humble opinion) aren't worth the glass they're bottled in, same goes for that artificial crap called Hornsby's.

I've discovered what cider was meant to be & this is the cider that does it for me FHC-Summer Cider and I've heard that there are even better ciders out there! Everyone is going to have different brands & styles they like & dislike, but I think most people will go for the real stuff once they get a taste of it. That's my 2 cents worth. Regards, GF.

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Old 12-03-2008, 04:40 AM   #5
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Hornsby's! That's one of the ones that I've had that I couldn't remember. I didn't like it at all. I think I also had a Woodpecker, and while better than Hornsby's, didn't meet what I was expecting from a cider.

I have had the Chuck, and like the Granny Smith. One of the drier ones had no taste to me, at all. Amber, I think, wasn't bad.

The Sam Smith's wasn't bad once I a) got past the smell - very acid, and b) put some sweeting in it. I use Splenda in my coffee, and cannot tell the difference from sugar, but in Sam Smith's, the Splenda had a definite "off" taste. It was still much better than Sam Smith's plain, but if I get any more, then I'll have to try real sugar or honey.

Yes, commercial ciders are pretty expensive... I tend to be "thirfty", and wouldn't pay to drink cider every day (or even once a month) unless I just had to have something ... appley.

That is, of course, one of the reasons I wanted to try cidering... to have something something semi-sweet, appley, and with all of the benefits of alcohol (fight high blood pressure, ASCAD, possibly high cholesterol, etc. -- standard health benefits) that I made, made well, and made at a fraction of the shelf price for commercial ciders. Plus the benefits of both being a hobby and fighting stress. What's not to like?

I'll keep searching and trying, but probably very slowly. I took a swig of the Aspall tonight, before bed. It was dry w/out much apple, and had a definite chemical taste that I can't place just yet. Peculiar, and I am hoping, not normal -- 'cus I wouldn't pay for that under normal circumstances.

I will look at the commercial reviews. If I can figure out how to describe what I'm tasting, I'll try to add to the database, but taste is pretty subjective. I drink a coffee strenght of rocket fuel and I like it just fine, but I've poisoned several of the people at work with the sheer pure, raging coffeeness that it is.

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Old 12-03-2008, 04:47 AM   #6
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you listed all the ones I have tried.

strongbow has always been a bit dry for me. Gives a fairly good hangover.

always prefered a scrumpy. dont know why.

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Old 12-03-2008, 05:07 AM   #7
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Any French countryside cider is really good.

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Old 12-03-2008, 05:44 AM   #8
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The Aspall is Normandy-style (?), and while the bottle looks cool, with it's real cork and wire basket and all, it still had a distinct taste under the cider. I am trying to find adequate words for it, and I'm late to be horizontal.

I will taste it again tomorrow night, after NOT having just had coconut, kefir, olives, and ... ? and maybe I can place the peculiar flavor.

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Old 12-03-2008, 12:42 PM   #9
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Harpoon is very sweet and weak. I think its 4-4.5 abv.

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Old 12-03-2008, 06:29 PM   #10
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Aspall is probably my favorite cider of the ones I've tried (pretty much whatever's available in socal, which isn't too much) although it's really expensive here, like $6 a bottle, and only available at bevmo. A close second is a new one I've just found: Ace "Jester" cider. Dry champagne-like cider with a bit more kick than what is usually found here (8%), I wish I could get some real and proper dry English cider out here, but it's not too likely.

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