Several years ago travellers through the cider-lands of the USA (ok, Pete Brown and Bill Bradshaw researching their World’s Best Cider book) came back with reports of hops being added to cider. Just like the reaction to some of the stranger tales in Herodotus’ Histories, hops in cider seem outlandish. However, since then hopped cider has become a familiar sight in the world of craft cider, a spearhead, perhaps of what happens when cider meets beer as this three exemplary examples show.
/ Mills Brewing/Oliver’s Cider, Foxbic 4.7%
Mills Brewing always brew with wild yeasts. For this one, they brewed a pale ale in the lambic style and then fermented it on Tom Oliver’s cider lees (the sediment from the bottom of barrels of fermented cider) for eight months. The result is gently tart, distinctly, without being too sharp.
PB / @MillsBrewing
/ Thornbridge/Brooklyn, Serpent, 9.5%
This started with a Belgian-style golden ale. Then the beer was put into wooden barrels and lees from Tom Oliver’s cider makers added. Lees? These are the naturally formed wild lees created in cider fermentation. After a year’s slumber the beer was bottle conditioned and the result is an elegant and eloquent beer that is tart, vinous, earthy, full-bodied and dry. ATJ
/ At The Hop, Oliver’s, 5.5%
Hopped ciders can be pretty vile in the wrong hands, but Tom Oliver has an unequalled grasp of flavour and how to balance it. This medium cider, infused with cascade hops, doesn’t quite taste of cider or beer, but some quite wonderful third dimension in its own right. PB