My dad had been proposing we do a hard cider taste test for months and finally landed on Labor Day weekend. We would be able to watch the Kentucky Derby (yes, in September, because, 2020) eat some tasty summer grilling food and drink cider in the name of science! This is the first event I have been able to get really creative with in quite a while, so I had to get it right. It was just my parents, Jimmy, John, and Sharon, our friend Laurie's Mom.
We grilled burgers, brats, and asparagus, my mom made potato salad, and we had cucumbers, baked, beans, and chips. We quickly ran inside to watch the fasted two minutes in sports, then I got our varieties prepped.
I took the hardboard cut off from my other project last week and also used the chalkboard paint on it to make our scoreboard. I did a bit of research on each brand and went through the list before starting. I gave the name only and not the specific variety since I didn't want to influence the responses.
Angry Orchard - First launching in 2012 out of Walden, NY. This is the #1 cider brand in the US.
Ciderboys - Made at the fifth oldest brewery in the US. This Steven's Point, WI offering was also released in 2012.
Crispin - Founded in 2004 with origins in the Midwest. MillerCoors acquired them on 2012.
Loon Juice - Began as a seasonal offering in 2012 at Four Daughter's Winery in Spring Valley, MN, just south of Rochester.
Redd's - Also launched in 2012 by Molson Coors Company and brewed in Milwaukee
Strong Bow - The global leader in cider sales has been brewed in England for 60 years
Wild State - Started just last year in Duluth, MN by best friends that met at camp
Woodchuck - Had been produced in Vermont since 1991. It was the top selling cider in the US before the cider boom of 2012.
I etched numbers on glass stop top bottles to keep the offerings straight without making the variety known by type of container. We also had fresh baked bread as a pallet cleanser between rounds.
Everyone had a really great time and learned a little something about their personal taste. There were 3 that tied for third, so we did a secondary taste to break the tie.
Here was how they finished.
Ciderboys First Press - 40
Strongbow Gold Apple - 37
Angry Orchard Crisp Apple - 27
Crispin Original - 27
Woodchuck Granny Smith - 27
Wild State Semi Dry - 21
Redd's Hard Apple - 20
Loon Juice Honeycrisp - 7
The only surprise for me was the Loon Juice. I had tried another variety, Extra Juicy, on one of our last pre-pandemic date nights and it was really good. We moved inside and finished the evening with pumpkin bars and bourbon cream cheese frosting. We are already dreaming up ideas for taste tests to come! Let me know if you have any good ideas for us. Happy fall!