Big B’s Grizzly Brand Bourbon Barrel Aged Cider

Review of Grizzly Brand, an organic bourbon barrel aged cider from Big B’s out of Hotchkiss Colorado, part of their small batch Farmhouse Cellar series.

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>>This is a review of a sample bottle provided to Cider Says by Big B’s.  Although I will take care to treat it the same as any other review, there is always the potential for bias as I received it for free.  The only consideration I knowingly made was pushing this up in my cider review cue.  I love free stuff, especially cider!  Want your cider or cider-related product reviewed here?  Contact me.<<

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<aren’t these cool bottle labels & stickers they sent?>

Cider:  Grizzly Brand
Cidery:  Big B’s
Cidery Location:  Hotchkiss CO
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  750ml bottle
Style:  American New World Style Bourbon Barrel Aged Cider

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Availability:  Only in CO, year round, although they take phone orders to ship to customers when their state allows it.

Cider Description:  For over 80 years the Growers Trading and Supply Co. in Hotchkiss Colorado sold millions of lbs of Apples as Grizzly Brand Apples.  Big B’s took over this location in 1973 and to pay homage to the Grizzly Brand we created a Hard Cider with historic roots and time honored traditions.   Grizzly Brand Hard Cider is aged in used bourbon barrels, it’s unfiltered and bottle conditioned.  It’s a crisp and dry cider that’s laced with woody vanilla like tones and finishes with the warmth of fine bourbon.  USDA Certified Organic.  ABV 6.9% and available in 750ml bottle.

Local organic Winesap apple single varietal aged 12-15 months in High West Distillery barrels from Park City UT. Only apples and yeast, without other ingredients (such as Sulfites).

Cidery Description:  Big B’s Hard Ciders – Local, Organic, Delicious.  Big B’s proudly handcrafts American Farmstead Hard Ciders in small batches using only organic apples, hand picked at the peak of ripeness.  Our orchard and tasting room is located in the North Fork Valley on the Western Slope of Colorado’s Rocky Mountains.

Big B’s has an organic farm market and tasting room in Hotchkiss CO for their juices and hard cider (first sold in 2011), which re-opens for the season in May 2016.  Grizzly Brand won silver at GLINTCAP 2015, and is in the running for a Good Food award for 2016  (along with Pear Supply & Orchard Original).  Here is an article on Big B’s.

Price:  n/a ($15.99 retail price)
Where Bought:  n/a
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Online.  I read about Big B’s, such as from a blog entry from Cider Sage, and have heard only great things.

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First Impression:  Slightly hazy honey-lemon hue.  Carbonation level between still and very low.  Smells of sweet honey, oak barrels, citrus, and bourbon.  The smell really reminds me of Crispin’s 15 Men–barrel aged and a lot of honey (although that one was rum not bourbon barrel).

Tasting Notes:  Semi-dry (which was a bit difficult to decide on as there were some completing aspects).  Mild acidity, tartness, and bitterness.  No sourness or funk.  The flavor was complex, starting with honey & citrus, then moving to oak wood & vanilla, then into the lingering warming bourbon.  Moderate barrel and bourbon spirit influence.  Medium bodied.  Long finish length.  Low to moderate sessionability.

My Opinion:  Pretty tasty!  Definitely unique.  I liked that they went a bit stronger on the barrel & spirit influence than most spirit barrel aged ciders.

Most Similar to:  The honey combined with barrel aged most reminded me of Crispin 15 Men (rum barrel), followed by Carlton Slake (whiskey barrel), 2 Towns The Bad Apple (bourbon barrel), and Moonlight Meadery How Do You Like Them Little Apples (whiskey barrel).  The difficulty in determining the level of sweetness with a barrel aged cider with sweet notes reminded me of Thistly Cross Whisky Cask (which is sweeter).  The other bourbon barrel aged ciders I’ve had include Tieton Cidermaker’s Reserve and Traditions Bourbon Barrel 2012 (the Traditions one, made by 2 Towns, is literally one of my favorite ciders by the way).

Closing Notes:   Too bad Big B’s Grizzly Brand isn’t available outside of Colorado yet.  I think they will do very well with expanded distribution.  Barrel aged cider is typically my favorite variety, and this one didn’t disappoint.  I look forward to trying the other cider they sent, Pear Supply.

Have you tried Big B’s Cider?  What did you think?

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