By Malia Paasch
It may surprise you to know, but Virginia is the sixth largest apple producing state in the country, producing at least 15 different varieties. So it is not surprising that we are seeing new and exciting cideries popping up every day.
When The Birch installed five new taps specifically for cider in 2015, I had no idea the amount of complexity behind cider production and apple varieties. One of the first things I learned by bringing in cider from more local producers was that the apples you see in the grocery store aren’t necessarily the apples used to make cider.
Just like with grapes for wine production, certain apples are best used in certain applications. Many of the apples used to create apple cider are not apples that you’d want to eat on their own. Most of them are quite sour or bitter.
The second thing I learned is that most ciders are a blend of juice from different varieties. Blending helps balance the sweetness and acidity while also offering the final product complexity.
If a cider is made from a single varietal, the maker most often will highlight that on the label. Single varietal ciders are often made to showcase an apple variety that has unique characteristics. This is a wonderful time of year to explore the world of cider, with Virginia’s Cider Week celebration running from Nov. 9 – 18, visit ciderweekva.com to find an event near you.
Blue Bee Cider
Appearance: A hay like yellow with beautiful clarity.Aroma: Tropical scents of pineapple and mango.
Taste: Citrusy, lime zest, dry with slight hoppiness.
Mouthfeel: Light and refreshing.
Drinkability: Hopped ciders are a bit adventurous for folks who enjoy a traditional cider, but in this case the hops add a nice tropical note to the cider, making it very approachable for all.
Food Pairing: Chinese stir fry.
Bold Rock Hard Cider
Appearance: Pours a beautiful blush pink color.
Aroma: Sweet with notes of ripe strawberries and cherries.
Taste: Hints of black cherry and golden delicious apples.
Mouthfeel: Smooth with light carbonation.
Drinkability: This is a playful cider that any rosé drinker would love.
Food Pairing: Cheese and charcuterie.
Sly Clyde Ciderworks
Appearance: A pale transparent green, almost like the color of a white wine.
Aroma: Hints of granny smith apples and honey.
Taste: Sweeter than the aroma, but not too sweet with hints of lime, honey, and white grape.
Mouthfeel: Crisp and semi-dry with a touch of lingering sweetness.
Drinkability: This is a wonderful cider for someone who likes citrusy white wines, like sauvignon blanc.
Food Pairing: Caesar salad.
Castle Hill Cider
Appearance: A bright gold with pale yellow highlights.
Aroma: Fresh apple slices with a hint of granola.
Taste: Just like biting into a juicy Red Delicious apple after a fall hay ride.
Mouthfeel: Medium mouthfeel with soft carbonation.
Drinkability: This is a great cider for someone who likes things a little bit on the sweeter side.
Food Pairing: Roast chicken.