Review of Jester & Judge’s American Apple. They just launched in September, and also offer Sharp Cherry and Columbia Belle (peach) varieties. Here is an article on their launch and here is an article about their founder (who recently sold the Fox Barrel and Crispin cider companies to MillerCoors). I tried their Sharp Cherry awhile back (tasting notes here).
Cider: American Apple
Cidery: Jester & Judge
Cidery Location: Stevenson WA
How Supplied: four pack of 12oz bottles
Availability: likely only WA & OR
Cider Description: We embrace the challenge of making an apple cider that is both sessionable and subtly complex. Our American Apple cider is strong, clean, and sublimely balanced. Equally at home, at the beach, or at the bistro. 100% Natural, 100% Pacific Northwest.
Cidery Description: We’ll bring the Jester and you be the Judge. At Jester & Judge we believe that balance is important in life and in cider. It’s the foundation of our seriously whimsical attitude. Serious about the quality of the ciders we make. No concentrates, sorbates, artificial flavorings, colorings, or other shortcuts. Whimsical because we have fun making the best ciders we can featuring local ingredients from the Pacific Northwest, which sometimes means snubbing our nose a little at traditional cider.
Price: ~$2.50 for a single bottle (runs $8-9 for a four pack)
Where Bought: Special Brews in Lynnwood WA
Where Drank: home
How Found: Browsing
First Impression: Light amber with a touch of orange. No carbonation or foam upon pouring. Smells like apple juice.
Opinion: On the sweeter side of semi-dry. Tastes like apple juice which has been slightly watered down with a touch of honey. The alcohol is well-hidden. No noticeable carbonation. Medium bodied. Low acidity. Only the very slightest tartness. No sourness, bitterness, or funk. Quick finish. This is a very simple and apple-forward cider, definitely sessionable (easy to drink multiple bottles in a sitting). I was surprised this was 5.8% ABV, as I would have guessed much lower. I suspect they fermented this cider dry to quite a high ABV and significantly back-sweetened it with juice (plus honey).
Most Similar to: Many plain flagship ciders which are on the milder and drier side. Ace Apple comes to mind.
Closing Notes: I found this cider rather average and on the boring side. I think some carbonation would have gone a long way. It is rare to find a cider like this which doesn’t use sorbates, which can be difficult for cideries to pull off, so for some folks who aim to avoid them, this cider may specifically interest them. I like that this cider is so low in calories (135 in 12oz). So far, from trying their American Apple and Sharp Cherry varieties, Jester & Judge appears to make rather mildly flavored ciders, which likely appeals to session drinkers. Personally, I crave flavor and richness from a cider more than sessionability. However, there is a reason they make so many ciders…something for everyone.
Have you tried Jester & Judge ciders? What did you think?