Monday, February 4, 2013
Hard Cider: America's Forgotten Darling
I admit that hard cider has usually been a bit of an after thought for me. Delicious yes, but usually reserved for dessert or the random break from beer and wine. I myself have always been a craft beer lover, so now that beer is no longer an option for me, I am revisiting my old fizzy friend.
Turns out that hard cider was once the most popular beverage in America. Long before Americans were brewing IPA's in their basements, cider ruled as King. Thankfully, it is starting to make a comeback. While I could write a novel on cider's merits and history, I will let a beautifully short and brilliantly informative graphic from HackCollege tell it instead. Though its main focus may be discussing college kids, I feel it applies to any and everyone.
Created by: HackCollege.com
Pretty nice huh? The wonderful thing about cider's reemergence is a greater focus on artisan. Forget the sticky sweet artificial flavored ciders of days past, now you can find quality ciders using blended heirloom apple varieties and ingredients like maple syrup, winter spices, and ale yeasts. They range from dessert style sweet to bone dry, sparkling to still. And need I mention that they pair marvelously with every manner of cheese? Their fruity notes and more subtle tannins make pairing a breeze, and the playful effervescence found in most help to lift fat from the tongue and cleanse the palette.
Try a sweet and appley cider like J.K.'s Scrumpy with a salty blue such as Jasper Hill's Bayley Hazen, or a stinky washed rind like Meadow Creek's Grayson. Fresh light goat cheeses and bloomy rinds like Sweet Grass Dairy's Green Hill do well paired with something lighter and more crisp like Etienne Dupont Cidre Bouche Brut de Normandie, a very dry Champagne-like French cider. And hard to semi-hard cheeses like Cabot Clothbound Cheddar and Sequatchie Cove's Cumberland play nicely with something right in between, think Samuel Smith's Organic Cider.
In addition to their cheese loving awesomeness, their versatility can be found in kitchen cookery as well. Think marinades, brines for pork and poultry, sauces, or flavor boosts in desserts. And speaking of dessert, serve this cocktail with hot apple pie and just try not to have your mind blown.
Boozey Apple Pie Cocktail
3 oz. sweet hard cider
2 oz. whiskey
several thin slices sweet apple
1 cinnamon stick
1 thin slice ginger
Combine all ingredients.
Serve over ice on a summer day, or in a hot mug with a pat of butter on a blustery day.
If you are not already a die hard fan, I urge you to find a quality cider and take a swig. Or better yet, brew one yourself! I am! But that is a different post for a different day, recipe to come.