I recently received a bottle of Ace’s new SPACE Bloody Orange Craft Cider–a cider fermented with blood orange puree. While the result is not what I’d call apple-centric, it makes for an interesting Mimosa of sorts.
First of all, Happy New Year! If 2016 is anything like 2015 in the world of cider, it will be a wild ride, so buckle up!
While you’ve haven’t seen much of me online lately, it’s not for lack of involvement in all things cider. Primarily, I’ve been in the midst of recipe experimentation for my cidery startup, St. Vrain Cidery. Add to this my planting about 200 cider apple trees, starting a new, cidermaking-focused site (ciderschool–check it out if you’re interested in cidermaking, orcharding, or meadmaking), and my day job, and it’s been hard to keep up a regular posting schedule.
I’m hopeful that I’ll be able to change that in 2016, however–there will be a lot to talk about!
Now, on to the cider review…
Just when I’d thought that all possible Star Wars-themed product ideas had been done, here comes a hard cider timed to the release of the latest film.
Here’s how Ace’s founder, describes it in Hard Cider News:
“In the 70s my wife, Angela, appeared as an extra in the iconic cantina scene in the original Star Wars movie, and I created this new flavor in her honor, and because we both love the Star Wars franchise,” said Jeffrey House, ACE’s founder and an early visionary in the hard cider market. “Blood orange and tart apple is an other-worldly flavor combination, so it’s a perfect tie-in to the new film.”
Made with hard apple cider and a puree of fresh blood orange to create a vivid orange color, House recommends SPACE as an alternative to the traditional mimosa. SPACE is available in supermarkets, natural food grocers, and beverage retailers in markets across the United States. The product is unfiltered and gluten free and is available on draft and in 22-ounce bottles. The suggested retail price for the bottles is $5.99 and $6.99.
Despite my normal cynicism, I have to admit that I found the concept intriguing and amusingly geeky. I’ve also had blood orange ciders before–see my review of Two Rivers’ Blood Orange cider here–so I was interested to see how Ace approached the concept from a flavor perspective.
ORANGE! SO ORANGE!. The color is not as dark as I’d have anticipated from blood orange, however. If the blood orange puree was part of the initial fermentation, that might explain this– I’ve seen yeast metabolize a lot of pigments out of a bright red apple juice, for instance. SPACE is unfiltered and cloudy, with a strong whiff of citrus on the nose. I couldn’t discern any apple aroma. The carbonation level is moderate and serves to push the aromas into your nose, giving you a blast of fresh citrus.
The flavor is predominantly that of a very tart, fresh orange juice–in fact, I can’t pick out any apple in the flavor profile at all. That’s not to say that it’s unpleasant–it seems like a perfectly good alternative to a sparkling wine-based mimosa–but…just don’t expect any apple flavor from it.
While I wish Ace had struck more balance with the apple component, I didn’t really have any illusions. This was never going to be a cider purist’s regular drink. It does, however, have its place at parties, and as something unique to try. At just under 7% ABV, it’s also a lot less lethal than most sparkling wines…something your head may thank you for the next morning.
And lest all the perfectly good fantasy geekery get lost completely in the sci fi madhouse that is Star Wars, here’s my contribution toward combining the two: