Cider Review: Johnny Appleseed

I’m tempted to say that John Chapman–Johnny Appleseed–would be turning over in his grave if he knew about the quality of the commercial cider that now bears his name, but to be honest, I have no idea how good or bad the cider he had in life was.

But one thing I do know: Johnny Appleseed Hard Cider–an Anheuser-Busch product that A-B apparently doesn’t want you to know is theirs–is a sugary, artificial-tasting mess of a cider. At least in this reviewer’s not-so-humble opinion…

Impression:

The overwhelming impression I have of this cider is that it’s a liquid version of a green apple Jolly Rancher candy. That is, very sweet (20g of sugar per 12oz) and artificial–it’s the idea of an apple rather than the reality.

The candy flavor comes mainly from using concentrates rather than whole fruit–a fact readily available in the ingredients list on the bottle (which lists ‘hard cider’ as an ingredient consisting of ‘water, apple juice concentrate, dextrose’). The additional, separate ‘flavor’ item in the ingredients list likely plays a part in this, but I doubt A-B will be eager to reveal the specifics of those any time soon.

To finish things up, they add malic acid to boost the tartness, as well as additional sugar and caramel color. Oddly, the cider also contains sulfites, which are very useful when working with whole fruit, but don’t seem necessary in a beverage made from concentrate in what I assume are very controlled, sanitary production facilities.

Origin:

You won’t see a reference to Anheuser-Busch on the label, just a reference to Brokenstraw Beverege, LLC–but a bit of research reveals that this is actually A-B.

In this particular way–Macro breweries getting into cider by offering products under other company names–Johnny Appleseed is very much in the vein of Smith and Forge cider, which I reviewed here.

Wrap-Up:

Johnny Appleseed cider is widely available, but it’s not good. And at the $10.99 I paid for a six pack, it’s not even inexpensive given the quality.

My recommendation? Try an American craft hard cider made from whole fruit–such as Bite Hard by Boonville Cider House–instead.

Better yet, strike out on your own, make your own cider, and perhaps even plant a small orchard which includes cider apples–John Chapman would be proud.

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6 Comments on Cider Review: Johnny Appleseed

  1. This was exactly the review of this cider that I gave to my friends. I also made a point of searching out who actually made it, although in retrospect the A of Appleseed should have been a dead giveaway. I guess I don’t drink enough AB products to recognize their logo. The surprising part for me wasn’t that it tasked like crap – it was that it cost the same as a good cider. If I’m gonna drink crap cider, it should be cheap like Redd’s.
    I would be interested in seeing your opinion of the new ‘strongbow golden apple’ cider which has hit American markets.

    • Thanks for your comment! While I don’t look forward to trying the Strongbow Golden Apple cider (though, to be honest, drinking Strongbow in London was what turned me on to hard cider in the first place), looks like I need to do so in the interest of science! Oh, the sacrifices I make…

  2. “a liquid version of a green apple Jolly Rancher candy”

    Ouch. Why do they have to do it that way?

    • Cost is certainly a factor–it’s far easier to transport and store concentrates than fruit or juice. But the flavor suffers quite a lot, in my opinion.

      Until folks start demanding better and more locally-sourced (where possible) ciders, there will still be a lot of the fizzy, candy-like ciders out there. If people like those, then that’s fine…feel free to drink them. But I think more and more folks are trying craft ciders or making their own, and I’m sure tastes will shift.

      It’s the craft beer movement all over again…

  3. I can’t seem to get johnnyappleseed anymore, the distributor hasn’t even been getting it in, does anyone now why??

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