I recently had the opportunity to sample two ciders from Two Rivers Cider of Sacramento, CA. Each features a bright, refreshing apple base and an added fruit–in one case, Blood Orange and in the other, Huckleberry. How were they? Well, I’ll tell you. Read on…
Cider #1: Blood Orange Hard Cider
The Blood Orange hard cider pours a beautiful ruby red with a lot of effervescence. Fresh apple and citrus are very apparent on the nose–aided by that high carbonation pushing the aromatics into the air–and create a sense of anticipation that makes you want to dive in.
On your first sip, you get a nice balance of fresh apple and citrus flavor with bright–but not overpowering–acidity. It is bright and refreshing, semi-dry, and light in body with no discernible tannins. The Blood Orange flavor is a bit more assertive than your standard orange; in this case it is bracing and mouth-watering, but not so intense as to overwhelm the apple character. For me at least, there was also a nice, complementary hint of minerality of the sort apparent in many white wines. The 7.5% abv in it is a bit deceptive, as it is not apparent in the flavor profile. That’s not a bad thing, just a word of caution since it would be far too easy to knock back a few of these.
This is a very quenching, pleasant, and refreshing cider especially suitable for warm summer days. The citrus adds flavor and interest to what would otherwise be a fairly thin, tart, and not terribly interesting cider, thus elevating the overall beverage quite a bit. Give it a try if you run across it.
Cider #2: Huckleberry Hard Cider
Pours rosy and slightly amber with a lot of effervescence. Pleasant aroma with both berry and fresh apple notes.
The berry flavor is there, but not as prominent as the blood orange is in the other cider. It’s lively, refreshing, and relatively dry. Weighing in at 6.5% alcohol, it’s a milder beverage than the Blood Orange in terms of alcohol, but similar in that the alcohol is not very apparent.
I’m a big Huckleberry fan (my father hails from Northern Idaho, which is rampant with the things, so they featured heavily in my childhood), and wouldn’t mind seeing a lot more huckleberry in this cider. Sure, the apple flavor that is apparent in this version might become less dominant, but…it’s not like these ciders are canonical anyway. As it is, there is a bit of Huckleberry flavor and a lot of it in the aroma profile. But hey, these are the only folks I know of who have made a Huckleberry cider, so hats off to them in any case.
Like the Blood Orange cider, the Huckleberry is light and refreshing, with the added fruit bringing a welcome dimension of interest to what is otherwise a perfectly good, well-made, but somewhat tart, dry, and plain cider base. It’s a unique concept, and well worth trying some if you have the opportunity,.
If you want a bitter, phenolic farmhouse cider, these ciders are certainly not that, but they do make me long for summer and sitting on a patio in the hot sun with a light, fruity, semi-dry cider to counteract it with.
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