Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Pacific Coast Cider - Cider Brothers Hard Apple Cider Reviews

Cider Brothers hard ciders by Pacific Coast CiderIt's not often that I get to try a new hard cider and when the opportunity came along to try two different hard ciders from Pacific Coast Cider of Lodi, California, I welcomed it. Pacific Coast Cider recently launched a nationwide release of their hard cider line in April 2014. Fermentedly Challenged was selected as a regional blogger to help review two of their hard ciders. The first was Cider Brothers Hard Apple Cider (6.0% ABV), and the second was Cider Brothers Pinot Grigio Hard Apple Cider (6.5% ABV).

Both of these Cider Brothers hard ciders will be able here in Colorado and then come in individual 22oz bomber bottles. Cider Brothers is their brand, but Pacific Coast Cider is the parent company. While their web site wasn't quite ready yet (, they've gone ahead and started the nationwide launch.

Cider Brothers used a process called "Frost Fermentation" to help produce their hard ciders. The process reportedly helped to concentrate both the aromas and flavors in their hard ciders. The process was a bit more complex to complete and ended up being just a bit more expensive to make than the sweeter, mass market brands according to their brochure. Both of the sample 22oz bottles cost about $8.99 retail each. I was given two complimentary bottles to taste and review. I'll try to describe both at the same time side by side.

Appearance: Poured side by side, both of these hard ciders look quite pale. In fact they are paler than the lightest colored beer I've seen. The regular Cider Brothers Hard Apple Cider was a pale yellow color and looked nearly like a white wine. The Pinot Grigio Hard Apple Cider was even paler in color and just had a slight trace of yellow color. Both poured with a bit of a fizzy white effervescence, but didn't leave a head for more than a few seconds. Both hard ciders had remarkable clarity, neither one of them had any haze or sediment in it. I could tell that these hard ciders had an above average amount of carbonation in them, most likely due to having used a champagne wine or ale yeast. I could easily see some streams of bubbles rising from various points in the glass. So visually, these hard ciders look very light and bubbly.

Cider Brothers Hard Apple CiderAroma: Here is where the two hard ciders start to really differentiate. The regular Hard Apple Cider had a semi-sweet aroma, classic of a variety of apples. The initial aroma seemed a bit sweeter than more hard ciders I've tried, but sweeter apple aroma doesn't always carry on to the taste. The Pinot Grigio version had a distinct aroma of apples and white grapes, with a hint of wine character. At first I thought the Pinot Grigio had been wine barrel aged, but that was not the case. It's that wine-like character that came out in the Pinot Grigio hard apple cider that made it distinguished from their regular one. Both had a very inviting aroma, sweet, yet not overly so and with a big, solid bouquet. These were not going to be light-weight hard ciders. There's also a bit of yeast and alcohol in the nose as well, but that was to be expected. Almost like a champagne aroma, but a bit sweeter.

Taste: There is definitely the feel of carbonation in both of these hard ciders, but not overly bubbly like champagne, rather just a bit more scaled back feel. There was definitely some sweetness to this apple cider, yet somewhere in the middle between dry and sweet. The Pinot Grigio version had a more distinctive apple/grape flavor, quite satisfying. I could tell both of these hard ciders were well made and balanced. There was a great mix of apples in these. Imagine a mix of Golden Russets (aromatic), Granny Smiths (tannic & tart), Galas, Fujis (sweetness), and Red Delicious (for mouthfeel & aroma).

Cider Brothers Pinot Grigio Hard Apple CiderFrom memory, I tried to compare these to other national hard cider brands. Cider Brothers hard apple ciders are less sweet, with just a hint of dryness to them. I liked the taste of these better than Woodchuck or Angry Orchard and found them better tasting and with more apple taste than sugars. I had no trouble finishing off a glass of both regular Hard Apple Cider and the Pinot Grigio Hard Apple Cider. I was initially more curious about the taste of the Pinot Grigio version as I hadn't had a mix of hard cider and grapes before, and it was a blend that ended up working very well together.

Overall: I had my doubts before trying these, as the hard ciders I've had, both national and local Colorado brands, have been either too sweet or too dry. But the Pacific Coast Cider company has put out some outstanding hard ciders in my opinion. Their Cider Brothers brand has given me some hope that I will soon be returning to trying more of their products.

Both of these were very well made. So which one did I enjoy the best out of the two? If I had to choose one of them to drink repeatedly in the future I would probably go with their regular Hard Apple Cider, but I thought the Pinot Grigio had a really unique and enjoyable taste as well. I just prefer a classic mix of apples over mixing in additional fruits as a standard. It would be a hard decision though not to want to sample both again as they were both excellent.

So if you're looking for a change of pace from craft beer, you might want to pick up a bottle of a Cider Brothers hard apple cider next time instead of the other national brands. I think you'll find their quality and taste a bit better than some of the other brands.

Disclosure: These bottles were given to me free of charge in consideration for an unpaid and honest review.

Hard Apple Cider Pinot Grigio Hard Apple Cider

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