While the general tale of the Anthem cider line by Wandering Aengus Ciderworks has already been told in the Anthem Hops Review, Anthem Traditional is worth mentioning as well. As I understand it, Anthem Traditional is the base product that all the Anthem ciders start out as before other ingredients are added…or not. At least compared to Anthem Hops–I haven’t tried the other varieties yet–I find the traditional to be the better cider, if still a bit too reminiscent of green apple Jolly Rancher candy…
On opening the bottle, you’re greeted with a fresh, crisp, tart green apple aroma. It pours clear and well-carbonated. Unsurprisingly, the flavor is just like the aroma, though more intense in terms of the green apple character. It may remind you of a Jolly Rancher, but it’s not a chemical flavor–rather, it’s quite crisp and clean, with no discernible (at least by me) off flavors or odors. Very little yeastiness is present–I’d guess that it’s fermented with a fairly neutral wine yeast…if it’s undergone natural fermentation, it was an exceedingly clean one.
Its intensity lasts quite a long time–mine was bottled in March of 2012 and still tasted only a few months old. If this underwent any of the mellowing effects of Malo-Lactic fermentation (none detected), I’d be a bit scared to try this fresh out of fermentation…
The apple blend–Gala, Granny Smith, Honey Crisp, Golden Delicious–is not a great one as these things go, but if you’re going to use a blend like this, Anthem Traditional is an exemplar of what is possible with that blend and with a good, clean fermentation process.
For a similar crisp, clean cider but without the green apple intensity, you could do worse than a cider like the Blue Mountain Winesap.
In a more general vein, this style–crisp, tart, clean, straightforward, non-tannic–seems likely to be dominated by the Pacific Northwest for some time, given the numerous cideries springing up there and the proximity to huge amounts of table/dessert apples and packing houses that can supply ample juice culls. So keep an eye on Washington and Oregon…I think they’ve only just gotten started with their portion of the new American cider rennaisance.
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