Walk into any craft beer bar in America and you'll likely see at least a couple taps pouring hard cider, as the industry has exploded in recent years. Leading the cider revitalization has been Angry Orchard, which is owned by Boston Beer Co. (brewers of Samuel Adams) and carries a market share of more than 50 percent, according to Impact Databank.
And while the core and seasonal lines of ciders from the brand are enjoyable, their low alcohol content (all stand at 5 percent abv) and light body make them difficult to pair well with a premium cigar. So when Angry Orchard announced their new Orchard's Edge series, which is comprised of ciders that are a bit higher in alcohol content (6.5 percent abv), we were happy to take a shot at synchronizing liquid with smoke.
Each of the ciders in the Orchard Edge series are "inspired by unexpected ingredients and aging processes" that the brand has been able to experiment with in its new Innovation Cider House located in Walden, New York.
So far, the series is comprised of two ciders: Knotty Pear and The Old Fashioned. Knotty Pear is made with apples (of course) and a nice dose of domestic pears and then aged on American oak staves. The Old Fashioned is a blend of Gala, Fuji and Granny Smith apples that have been aged on charred oak Bourbon barrel staves with dried tart cherries and California-grown navel orange peel.
While the Knotty Pear is certainly tasty, it was The Old Fashioned's time over Bourbon barrel staves that led us to believe it might be the better of the two for pairing with a premium cigar.
Both new ciders are available nationwide as well as on rotating drafts in select bars and restaurants.
Orchard's Edge The Old Fashioned (6.5 percent abv, $10.99 per six-pack)
APPEARANCE: Liquid pours a light gold color resembling straw in the sun with no head.
NOSE: Predominantly apple, with a tart cherry note atop and subtle hints of vanilla and orange.
PALATE: Light and effervescent, sweet apple hits the tongue balanced by a bursting acidic cherry note. Faint undertones of orange show at the midpalate, along with a pleasant hit of vanilla spice. Oaky tannins show and provide a dry, lasting finish.
CIGAR PAIRING: Montecristo White Montecristo Court (Dominican Republic, 5 1/2 inches by 44 ring gauge, $9.85, 89 points, June 2016 Cigar Aficionado) Oils are seeping through the wrapper of this tan, lightly hued cigar. Initial grassiness dissipates to show richer notes of earth, toast and cinnamon. This mild-bodied cigar was chosen to match the lightness of the cider. A nice interplay between smoke and cider, as the tannins from the cider grabbed the cinnamon and toast notes in the smoke, elevating their prominence. In turn, the cigar balanced out some of the sweetness in the cider.