Sunday, November 3, 2013

Woodchuck Belgian White Private Reserve review

Woodchuck Belgian White Belgian-Style Cider Private ReserveHard cider is quickly becoming as popular as craft beer and Woodchuck Cidery is trying to create a cider that resembles a beer with their Woodchuck Belgian White Belgian-Style Cider Private Reserve. Hard ciders have always been popular on the East Coast of the US as well as in Europe and the UK, but now out here in Colorado, hard ciders are quickly starting to blossom. Fermentedly Challenged plans to start highlighting more hard ciders and this one is distributed nationwide.

The label describes Woodchuck Belgian White as "A handcrafted treasure, the ultra-limited edition Private Reserve Belgian White, is crafted with a classic Belgian beer yeast. Cloudy, with a rich, golden hue. It presents a delicate aroma and taste, with coriander and orange notes. It pairs excellently with seafood fare, mixed greens or sharp cheeses." This hard cider weighs in at 5.5% ABV, has 190 calories, and 12g sugar per 12oz bottle.

It seems that Woodchuck Cidery of Middlebury, Vermont is trying to close the gap between beer and cider with this edition. The use of Belgian yeast and spices that would normally go into a Belgian-style ale are fully present here. Only there's no malt or hops in this beverage and it's naturally gluten-free. This beer is considered a Summer seasonal and is typically available June through August, but I found some still on the shelves in late October.

Many homebrewed ciders are somewhat on the dry side, but Woodchuck's hard ciders tend to be a bit sweeter than others. How would this cider stack up with other ciders or even a light colored Belgian-style ales?

Appearance: Woodchuck Belgian White poured out a cloudy, light golden color with a small 1-finger tall bright white head that quickly laid down leaving just a small white ring. This cider even left a slight lacing along the side of the glass, unusual for a hard cider. If it weren't for the fact that this drink didn't maintain much of a head and that is was slightly cloudy, just by the looks you'd swear it was a beer. There was no yeast sediment at all and was free of any particulates.

Aroma: There was no mistaking this as a hard cider from the smell, although there was also the aroma of Belgian yeast, and coriander mixed in with the bouquet of apples. I could pick up hints of other fruit as well, not just apple. It also seemed to possess some wood characteristics, but I didn't see any mention of wood on the label. It is certainly reminiscent of a Belgian-style ale, only you know that it doesn't have any hops and has a very sweet distinctive cider aroma.

Woodchuck Belgian White up closeTaste: Surprisingly, Woodchuck ciders tend to be on the sweeter side. Even though the fermentation process would typically suck out all the sugars in a liquid, this hard cider still had plenty of sweetness in it. There was a noticeable Belgian characteristic built in from the yeast and the light spicing of orange peel and coriander added just the right amount of balance with the apples, yeast and alcohol. It was hard to tell that this was alcoholic at first, but later on the effect of the alcohol did sneak up on me.

While Belgian White was clearly a cider by taste and smell, it also seemed to be closely imitating a Belgian-style wheat beer. So if you are a fan of Belgian beers, you might enjoy one or two of these.

Overall: The one thing about Woodchuck ciders is that you can quite easily put down a few of these before you start feeling it. With all of the sugar still in this drink, you might not realize that there is still 5.5% ABV to contend with - so tread easily and pair it with some food. Woodchuck Belgian White was very enjoyable as a hard cider. It wasn't dry, had a lot of different flavors going on and avoided being too sweet. Well worth it if you can still find some in the off-season.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this hard cider at my local liquor store.

Related articles:
- Woodchuck Cider Maker's Variety Pack.
- Blown Spoke's apples fall close to the Beaver tree.
- Angry Orchard Hard Ciders review.
- Colorado Cider Company Glider Cider Dry review.

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