I’m not going to beat around the bush on this one: Smith & Forge Hard Cider is one of the worst ciders I’ve ever tried.
I discovered it in the usual way–looking for new ciders at my local liquor stores–and made the mistake of buying this just because it was new and next to the craft ciders in the display. Don’t make my mistake.
Imagine a generic apple juice made from concentrate…you know, the little frozen tubes you buy at the grocery store. Now imagine ‘making’ that juice, pouring in a bit of alcohol, and carbonating it. That end product is what Smith & Forge tastes like.
Contrary to its ‘Made Strong’ marketing, it’s actually anything but. The 6% alcohol is hardly strong by cider standards, for instance, nor is its lack of any astringency or bitterness. Neither is its low perceived acidity, which is weak even after malic acid additions. The only thing strong here is the big, bold font on the can, and the excessive perception of sweetness due to the lack of balance.
A little research on this cider, which the can describes as being made by ‘Uncharted Cider Co’, reveals that it is actually a MillerCoors product. At the very least, Uncharted is owned by MillerCoors.
You will not find any reference to MillerCoors on the packaging, and that’s clearly intentional. With their vast resources, the macro brewing companies could easily compete with craft cider-makers (or beer-makers, for that matter) on the basis of quality. That is a form of competition I would welcome. Instead, they routinely present their products as if they were those of independent, craft producers, without reference to the chain of ownership. This is not a strategy that will work long-term, nor is it one that consumers will likely forget anytime soon.
If you’re looking for an original, canned American cider, try Bite Hard by Boonville Cider House instead.
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