Saturday, January 18, 2014

056. Blackthorn Fermented Hard Cider

Anyone who writes reviews on an even infrequent basis will likely tell you this truth: it's actually harder to review something mediocre than it is to review something bad. That is, unfortunately, the case with Blackthorn Fermented Hard Cider.

I don't pretend to be an expert on all alcoholic beverages. I've had more than enough beer to know what I like and to -- hopefully -- write intelligently on the subject. Hard Ciders are something new to me. Sure, I've had my share of Woodchuck and Angry Orchard over the years, usually at a dinner when I want something lighter than beer. So, for all I know, this could be the best danged hard cider on the planet (it could hit every checkbox at the International Cider House Competition, for all I know). But, the fact is, for me, this drink is pretty blah.

Yup, I've got a Master's Degree in English and that's the word I chose: Blah.

It's okay. It's not bad. But it's not great, either.

Hitting the Basics
Color: The color is one of the best things about this beverage. It's so startling clear, as though it has been filtered a dozen times.It is also very, very yellow. I mean like apple juice (go figure) or urine. Don't mean to gross anyone out, but if I were filming a movie and wanted someone to drink urine, I would use this. It's just so very yellow.

Aroma: I smelled the apples. Not a lot, but enough to know I wasn't about to sip some beer.

Flavor: Okay. It was a little dry (that is to say, not overly sweet). The apples are nice, and if I had to guess, I'd say there were Granny Smith apples in it providing a certain level of tartness that's not unpleasant. However, the thing that is completely unpleasant is the metal undertaste that was very pronounced. In fact, if I hadn't bought this at the downtown Spec's Liquor just yesterday, I would suspect it had been sitting on a shelf, forgotten for more than a year.

Temperature: Frequent readers will know that I list a "sweet spot" for my beer reviews. I take the temp with a digital food thermometer that is supposed to be accurate within a tenth of a degree. In this case, the temperature is particularly important to getting any enjoyment at all out of this beverage.

Cost: I picked this up, as I said, at the Spec's Liquor store in downtown Houston on Thursday. I think I paid about $8 or $9 for a 4-pack of 16.9 oz (500 ml) cans.

Closing Thoughts
During the Christmas holidays, I had some Crispin Hard Cider in cans (I may write a review later), and this reminds me of a weak copy of their superior, dry hard cider. I'm planning to hold one can of this back so I can do a side-by-side comparison. So stay tuned!

Thoughts from the bottom of the glass:
Type: Hard Cider
Color: Yellow and SUPER clear
Aroma: Apples
Hops: Not Applicable
Malt: Not Applicable
Head: Quarter-inch head that fades immediately
Lace: None
Carbonation: None
Mouthfeel:  Dry with hints of sweet
Temeprature Sweet Spot: 55 degrees an up
ABV: 6.%
My Rating: 5 out of 10

Other Reviews Worth A Sip:
This is pretty much reviled over at

There's also a very cool article over at the Blackthorn website about the history of Cider in England. It's definitely worth reading:

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Quick Sip 003. Woodchuck Hard Cider Winter

Thought I'd try something outside the norm for me, so I spent the Holidays enjoying hard ciders and Apple ales.
I've had Woodchuck Hard Cider before, but this is the first time I've had their Winter seasonal.

In short, it has a great flavor and, like the regular brand, it is crisp but that being overly sweet.The mild 5% alcohol content does not contribute any bitterness or alcohol taste. It has a little more depth of flavor than their regular drink. The label says there is a hint of vanilla -- I am not sure I agree with that, but there's definitely a dry after taste that is pleasing.
As a light alternative to beer, I would recommend this any time.
My score: 7.5 out of 10