The Saint Artisanal Reserve
Pale, almost cream colored & unfiltered.
Smells like sweet cider & spices.
Tartness in the finish.
Yeasty, with spicy sweet bread flavors.
The flavor combination reminded me of the warm apple gallete w/ caramel sauce and bourbon cream glaze I had over Christmas.
This is one that I would stock at home and could have a good deal of fun with in different pairing scenarios. Dessert pairings are the first to spring to mind, but I also think a roast pork tenderloin would make for a good match as well.
The marketing sheet for The Saint at Crispin's web site reads like a dream. It speaks of floral, yeasty and herbal notes in the nose and a silky mouthfeel. I recall telling Margot than I couldn't quite identify the savory element to the cider, something earthy and likely from the maple syrup. I didn't note that, and I'm not sure why.
For my own version of this beverage I used local New Hampshire syrup from Ben's Sugar Shack and cider from a Sunnycrest Farm in town.The Belgian Trappist High Gravity beer yeast was something familiar from my homebrew projects. The fermentation proceeded slowly and the aromas the few times I checked were sweet and spicy creating lots of hope for the final product. As it reached the end of fermentation I was able to detect the richness of the syrup in the mouth with now subtle hints of sweet spices, a transition I was hoping for. The nose is bready and yeasty. The cider stayed just this side of dry imparting a slight amount of fruitiness as well. Not bad. I've got some time yet before I can taste it absent of the influences of the lees and trapped CO2, but I'm happy so far with the direction the drink is going in.
Read, Cider Free or Die, for highlights from the brew club cider buy and what's brewing this year.
In my review above I also mention food pairings. One of the things I liked the most about Crispin's web site when I was visiting to get to know their products was their section on Food Pairings. Several types of information from recipes, pairing suggestions to entire cider dinner menus are available at their site. Lots of really great ideas after you've read about their products, found them at the local store and now want to get your drink on.
I've no doubt paired cider with food hundreds of times, and quite a few with real intent because it was the best match to be had. I've used it in sauces, dressings and drinks.The acidity and gentle fruitiness of ciders has them playing in with similarly structured white wines like Soave or dry Seyval Blanc.If the cider is flavored or otherwise brewed with specialty ingredients it is wise to take those into a account for any pairings.
In the pairing suggestion from my review I mention roast pork. An herbed roast pork is going to have big flavor on the outside with soft white flesh inside. The acidity of cider would help focus and refine the herbs and the earthy character from the syrup and beer yeast will impart a rustic feel to the bite. I'm hungry now. I was looking around for a picture of an herb encrusted pork loin from my own kitchen and came up with nothing. Now I'm really hungry!
Sparkling ciders in particular offer a familiar experience, with the best versions being dry, tart and a bit yeasty much like small lot Champagne. Artisinal ciders made from heirloom apples and fermented dry can be mistaken for unique French sparklers. Sparkling beverages have a food pairing advantage in just that one difference, they are sparkling. The crispness and effervescence is palate cleansing.Whether it is with fried foods as snacks, roast turkey & gravy, Helene's pork stuffing, baked root vegetables, mashed potatoes or just some cheese can crackers, who is going to turn down some bubbly?
Taking this stroll back through the review and the homebrew project it inspired was fun.I'm definitely looking
forward to breaking out cider over the long weekend to while away time with family and friends with. I expect lots of cheering, yelling or otherwise laughing at the TV over some cider on Turkey Day. I've also got a new bottle of Scotch to try with my dad, but that's a review for another time.