It may be fall in other places, but we’ve got a few more months of 80°+ weather ahead of us in Florida. So we recently did a double-blind tasting of several bottles of cider we picked up at the grocery store. They’re probably not as good as some of the cider we can get in New York (like Eve’s and Bellwether), but then that’s not really the reason I wanted to do a double-blind tasting. I really had two main reasons:
- There’s so much snobbery around beer and cider, and so much of the market is driven more by image and brand than by taste — so I feel like it’s a good reality check to make sure I’m not just buying into that.
- I often find myself in a restaurant with only mass-marketed beers and ciders to choose from — so it’s really helpful to know which ones I like better, and if any of them are worth drinking.
The methodology was the same as our lager tasting: one of us poured the ciders into glasses and assigned them numbers, and the other mixed them up and assigned them numbers. So neither of us knew which ciders were which while we were tasting them, and we revealed them afterwards.
Unlike our lager tasting, there were no big surprises. We didn’t agree on the exact ordering, or exactly where the drinkable/undrinkable line was. But we were in broad agreement and our rankings lined up pretty well with what we thought coming in to the tasting:
- Both of us thought Redd’s Apple Ale and Woodchuck Summer were pretty bad. Wind ranked Redd’s dead last and thought it was the only truly undrinkable one in the bunch (finding Woodchuck Summer strangely un-summer-y but barely passable). I thought they were both terrible and thought Redd’s was slightly less terrible than Woodchuck Summer.
- Neither of us liked Stella Cidre or Woodchuck Granny Smith very much. But they were definitely better than Redd’s and Summer. I found Stella Cidre to be strangely mineral tasting, and we both agreed there was not much flavor at all. The Granny Smith was at least crisp and dry, but still just not much there.
- Strongbow Gold and Angry Orchard Crisp were the clear winners. Strongbow is much juicier and Angry Orchard is much drier, but we both found them very drinkable.
With that in mind, I’m tempted to do another round, using Strongbow and Angry Orchard as controls for whatever craft cider we can find around town. Though it would be hard to do a blind test of our favorite cider (Julian’s Cherry Bomb) since its strong red color would obviously give it away.