Friday, November 29, 2013

Branch Out Cider Perennial 2012 review

Branch Out Cider Perennial 2012 Hard CiderColorado isn't yet known for being a big hard cider producer as apple trees are not the product of choice for local farmers. Still, due to the growing popularity of hard ciders, Colorado has attracted several new hard cider companies over the last several years. One such cider maker is Branch Out Cider of Fort Collins, Colorado. They began offering their first edition of hard cider in the Spring of 2013. One unique quality about this hard cider maker is that they don't grow their own apples, rather they rely on the local Northern Colorado community for providing them with all of the apples from trees all grown locally. Today, I'm reviewing their first commercial product: Branch Out Cider Perennial 2012.

Perennial 2012 comes in a big 750ml capped bottle. This edition was made with apples from the 2012 harvest. All apples, of many varieties, came from backyard trees of friends and neighbors and friends of friends who collected and saved their extra apples and combined them into a mixed variety batch of apples that were crushed and juiced and then fermented into hard cider.

Branch Out Cider then added a bit of honey and melon into the fermented cider to slightly sweeten and bottle condition Perennial 2012. The result is a hard cider that was aged during the Winter and released during the Spring of 2013. Perennial 2012 weighed in at a hefty 8.4% ABV. As with most hard ciders, the producer adds sulfites to help balance the PH levels in the beverage.

Appearance: The bottle opened with a noticeable big hiss. Perennial 2012 poured out a bright golden yellow color with a large amount of bubbles. There was a good 1+ inch head of bubbles that stayed in the glass for a minute or so thanks to the champagne yeast they must have used. That's not common in most hard ciders, but this one had an abundance of carbonation in it and lent itself to maintain a bright white head long enough to photograph and take in. The beverage itself appeared to have exceptional clarity. Just a few barely noticeable particulates were seen to be floating in the cider. I chose to use a tall but narrow glass that I normally use for porters for this tasting in order to show off the color more visibly.

Aroma: There was a strong nose of apples to be found here, but I struggled to find a trace of the honey and melon in the air. There was a crispness to this scent and the mix of several different apple varieties were evident from taking in several deep whiffs. Initially, I smelled this around 50 degrees F, but later put the rest away in the fridge for finishing later. Smelled even colder seemed to change the aroma into something even more aromatic. There was just a hint of sulfur in this cider, but not enough to make my nose twitch. As the sampling went on, I could start to pick up a bit more of a fruity bouquet, perhaps that came from the melon.

Taste and Feel: The first sip had bubbles dancing on my tongue. No getting around the carbonation on this which turned out to be rather sparkling. The hard cider was on the dry side as I expected, but there was an underlying touch of sweetness still present. The taste reminded me of some local apples I've eaten, particularly the flavor I get from the apple peel - perhaps the tannins left there for body. This hard cider was not watery at all, it had a big apple flavor, but apple with little sweetness left. It wasn't tart either, nor had any trace of vinegar either. The best way to describe this hard cider was dry and chewy. It tasted better on the cold side I thought. My first sampling was warmer and I decided to put the rest in the fridge to cool it down a bit - and I'm glad I did.

Perennial 2012 up closeOverall: Compared to all of the other commercial ciders I've tried, Branch Out Cider's Perennial 2012 felt more like an apple champagne than an easy going sweeter session cider. This was cider I wanted to sample and savor slowly. There wasn't nearly as much sugars added back to this brand and that led to slower drinking. I chose to pair this cider with my Thanksgiving turkey and I'm glad I did.

Perennial 2012 is not the kind of cider I'd go out and buy for everyday drinking. No, it's more the kind of alcoholic beverage that I'd suggest for use with some fine dining. The price is steeper than most hard ciders, so you'll not want (or be able to) buy a lot of it. This brand was made in small quantities and if you find some around Northern Colorado consider yourself lucky as it isn't widely distributed in the state. I had to ask Branch Out Cider if they could get some delivered to Greeley and they almost immediately sent some out to a local store. (Thanks!)

Savor this hard cider slowly and enjoy the complex apple taste, the lively carbonation, and the hefty kick you'll get from this drink. A single 750ml bottle was enough for 3 people to enjoy. Try this if you want something different to pair with your finer meals.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this beer at my local liquor store. For a 750ml bottle, the retail price was $14.99. Pricier than most hard ciders, but this is a small batch made but once a year and targeted for finer dining.

Related articles:
- Colorado Cider Company Glider Cider Dry review.
- Woodchuck Belgian White Private Reserve Hard Cider review.
- Crispin Original Hard Apple Cider review.

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