Spirit Cruises 2019 Leaderboard

Cider Review: Angry Orchard

Not your grandpa's cider
by Tara Nurin on Jul 23, 2012 in Beer
Cider Review: Angry Orchard

With sales of hard cider growing 27% in the U.S. last year, it makes sense that Boston Beer Co. would finally — after playing with recipes for 15 years — release its Angry Orchard family of ciders last fall. However, Angry Orchard is not a Sam Adams spinoff — owner Jim Koch is adamant about giving the brand a separate identity. The packaging and marketing materials, including the official press release announcing the launch, contain no reference to the parent company and claim Cincinnati, not Boston, as its home. Likewise, there seems to be no mention of the brand on Boston Beer Co.’s website.

Cider maker David Sipes has been quoted as saying, “Angry Orchard is a subsidiary of The Boston Beer Company, but a critical decision was made early on for Angry Orchard to have its own identity in every aspect from recipe development through packaging.”  

Koch’s distancing could be said to extend to his ingredients, which he sources far from home, buying apples for the trio of Angry Orchard ciders in Italy and France. Despite being idiosyncratic in an era when food suppliers climb on top of another to proclaim their commitment to buying local, after a few sips, the decision is understandable. The culinary apples from the foothills of the Italian Alps and the bittersweet fruit that originates in Normandy combine to make ciders so flavorful yet gentle that they easily compel a non-cider drinker to ask for thirds.

Completely unlike the sharp Irish styles typically available in the states before cider made its craft comeback, Angry Orchard’s Traditional Dry, Crisp Apple and Apple Ginger flavors are perky, at once slightly sweet and also dry, and eminently drinkable. The description on the Crisp Apple bottle applies to all three styles and is as true as any I’ve seen: “This crisp and refreshing cider mixes the sweetness of the apples with a subtle dryness for a balanced cider taste.”

The Traditional Dry is, not surprisingly, the driest. Offering a tempered whiff of a snappy hard green apple, it’s made in the style of England’s traditional pub drink. The relative lack of sweetness also makes this cider the tartest, snapping the drinker awake like smelling salts. This style maintains its dryness partially because no juice was added to sugar it up.

Crisp apple tastes the most like the juice you were fed with graham crackers as a kid. It’s not at all cloying but does derive some of its ripe, natural-tasting sweetness from the addition of Fuji apples. It has a sprightly carbonation that draws the mind to bottom-shelf bubbly — not that there’s anything cheap-tasting about in the cider. I combined this style with Goldschlager (yes, it’s still around, and the ratio is one bottle of cider to one shot of liquor) as a volunteer at a recent tasting event and delighted the participants with the taste of cinnamon apple.

There isn’t all that much ginger flavor in the Apple Ginger, though if you try hard enough you can pick some up on the finish. That doesn’t diminish the enjoyment, however, because if you close your eyes you can imagine you’re drinking a lightly fizzed and fruit-forward Sauvignon Blanc or a glass of Welch’s white grape juice.

All of the varieties are low in alcohol and mix nicely. Play around by adding schnapps, hot cinnamon flavored spirits, muddled fruit (try peaches) and simple syrup. The Angry Orchard website also lists extensive cocktail-making possibilities. What works in one will probably work almost as well in the others, too — though there are subtle differences between the three, if you like one, you’ll probably like them all. Even if you don’t like cider.

Recent Articles
spacer

Feedback

How are we doing? Tell us what you like or don't like and how we can improve. We would love to hear your thoughts!

*Name:
*E-mail:
*Suggestions:
 
Meet Woodford Reserve's Master Distiller at a Special Bourbon Pairing Dinner, February 27

Meet Woodford Reserve's Master Distiller at a Special Bourbon Pairing Dinner, February 27

On Wednesday, February 27 from 6 PM - 9 PM, meet Woodford Reserve's master dillister at an exclusive bourbon p...read more ›

by Drink Philly Feb 6, 2019
Join Drink Philly for its Fourth Annual Wine & Chocolate Social, February 15

Join Drink Philly for its Fourth Annual Wine & Chocolate Social, February 15

Drink Philly's sweetest event is back for its 4th year - so after you celebrate Valentine's Day, join us for o...read more ›

by Drink Philly Jan 15, 2019
SPONSORED
Wine and Chocolate Social 2019 desktop rectangle
Try Rare & Hard to Find Wines at the Cellar Tasting at the Rittenhouse, February 17

Try Rare & Hard to Find Wines at the Cellar Tasting at the Rittenhouse, February 17

The Rittenhouse Hotel's annual cellar tasting is back, and will return on Sunday, February 17 from 2 PM - 5 PM...read more ›

by Drink Philly Feb 6, 2019
The Best Cocktail Bars in Philadelphia

The Best Cocktail Bars in Philadelphia

Here it is - the definitive list of Philadelphia's best cocktail bars....read more ›

by Drink Philly Dec 13, 2017
The Eighth Annual Philly Bierfest Celebrates the Rich History of Brewing German-Style Beers in Pennsylvania, February 23

The Eighth Annual Philly Bierfest Celebrates the Rich History of Brewing German-Style Beers in Pennsylvania, February 23

On Saturday, February 23 from 2 PM - 5:30 PM, the German Society of Philadelphia will host Philly Bierfest 201...read more ›

by Drink Philly Feb 6, 2019
You Can Now Drink Wine Out of a 'Pringles Can' Tumbler

You Can Now Drink Wine Out of a 'Pringles Can' Tumbler

After a news story about a woman in Texas who was asked to leave Walmart for drinking wine out of an empty Pringles can went viral, one enterprising E...read more ›

by The Drink Nation Feb 5, 2019
Where to Celebrate Valentine's Day 2019 in Philadelphia

Where to Celebrate Valentine's Day 2019 in Philadelphia

Here are the best happenings for lovers in Philadelphia on Thursday, February 14. ...read more ›

by Jessie Donofrio Feb 5, 2019
Tired Hands to Open New Location Across From Fishtown Beer Garden

Tired Hands to Open New Location Across From Fishtown Beer Garden

Ardmore based brewery Tired Hands is opening its first brick-and-mortar bar and restaurant within Philadelphia. ...read more ›

by Drink Philly Feb 4, 2019
Where to Host a Private Event in Philadelphia

Where to Host a Private Event in Philadelphia

Whether it's for the holidays or you have a special birthday coming up, Philadelphia has some amazing options when it comes to event spaces. ...read more ›

by Drink Philly Nov 26, 2018
SPONSORED
Audrey's Apartment Party 2018 Recap Photos
View all Articles

Sign up to get weekly drinking news, bar reviews, events and more sent directly to your inbox!

Close