Here's another new one to Benz. A cider tasting! There is much to be learned in a field that can vary widely in taste. We will have several brands and varieties featured including locally owned Wilson's Orchard.
It was the drink of pilgrims. Cider was, in fact, the most popular drink in North America and England from the early settlers’ times, and with good reason— water was potentially lethal. According to Hall, “wine is wisdom, beer is strength, and water is bacteria.” This cider was probably a diluted cider called Ciderkin in the U.K., made by steeping pomace (the remains of pressed apples) in water.
At one point in history, cider was as good as gold. Between the 1600s and 1800s, the British estate owner who made the best cider attracted the best workforce because a significant part of workers’ wages was paid in cider. It’s a nice thought to savor nowadays, but an 1887 law called the Truck Amendment Act made it illegal to compensate workers in this manner.
Cider can be aged (but be careful). “A well-made bottle-conditioned cider can be kept for years,” explained Oliver. They get drier as time goes on, since they are never quite finished conditioning. This means ciders over 6% — Dupont, Virtue or Oliver’s — are good bets. Be warned: most commercial ciders are not made for this, as they’re either sterile-conditioned or pasteurized with a shelf life of two years, so aging them will probably yield cider vinegar.
Bourbon-aged cider is a thing. Barrel-aging is the key to making great high-end ciders like Virtue’s RedStreak and The Mitten. Virtue has invested in a variety of barrels such as red wine, American oak, French oak and bourbon barrels from Heaven Hill. They test each barrel and blend different barrel-aged ciders together for the best tasting final product.
When at war, people drank cider.
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