Ace Joker

Review of Joker from Ace (California Cider Company).  This is the driest variety from Ace, and probably one of the driest commercial ciders out there.  I’ve had a number of their other varieties from Ace such as Pumpkin, Pineapple, Blackjack 21, Apple-Honey, Apple, and Berry, which for the most part are tasty, but pretty juice-like and commercial tasting.  The Blackjack 21 was a special release of drier cider aged in Chardonnay barrels for their 21st anniversary.  It was honestly a bit disappointing as it was very wine-like, and pretty pricey at about $16.  However, it was popular, and they are planning to make it a yearly thing.

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Cider:  Joker
Cidery:  Ace (California Cider Company)
Cidery Location:  Sebastopol CA
ABV:  6.9%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles

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Availability:  Semi-wide release, year round

Cider Description:  Our Ace Joker is our driest cider yet and is made from 100% apple juice; it has champagne characteristics, a bit yeasty with a 6.9% ABV. It has won many awards and recently took the 2013 San Diego Cider and Beer Festival by storm! It even grabbed the Gold Ribbon for “Best Cider” in the competition. Ace Joker is popular with beer and wine drinkers and makes a great base for Mimosas, Snakebites, or Black Satins.  Ace Joker first made its appearance in 2008 and has rapidly become our second top selling cider. It is available in 6 packs, 22 ounce bottles and kegs. The Joker tastes great on its own, ice cold in a champagne flute, or with cheese and apple slices.

Cidery Description:  We have been making ACE ciders since 1993 in the beautiful Sebastopol area of Sonoma County in California; right along side some of the world’s most renowned wine makers.  Thanks to Ace Cider – America’s Best – the cider business in America is growing rapidly. There really is a refreshing alternative to beer and wine and it’s ACE!  Unfortunately, some ciders never see an apple and are poor representations of the category. They’ve really given hard cider a bad name. Many ciders are far too perfumy (almost Jolly Rancher-tasting) and are quite a put-off to those seeking a crisp alcoholic refreshment. Some ciders are very dry and barnyard tasting, especially some of the imports. We challenge you to take a taste test of your own if you don’t believe ACE ciders are truly America’s Best!  Our Award-Winning ACE Ciders are very pure, clean, and refreshing because we use ONLY the best eating apples for our juice and the best ingredients we can buy. There is a big difference between ACE Ciders and other brands on the market, we guarantee it!  We realize that the cider industry in the United States has been weakened in the past by some poor quality ciders on the market and some consumers have been turned off. Now is the time to try something new and exciting to drink! ACE Ciders are great refreshment, chilled on their own and elegant enough to bring to the dinner table, pour in your favorite glass and have with a variety of meals.

Price:  ~$2 for a single bottle (runs $10 a six pack in my area)
Where Bought:  Total Wine
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I’ve had my eye on it for awhile, and now that I’m open to drier ciders, I decided to give it a try.

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First Impression:  Little carbonation but significant tiny bubbles.  Champagne hue.  Smells dry, slightly musty, with a hint of honey.

Opinion:  Definitely dry.  Moderate tartness, acidity, and astringency.  No bitterness or detectable tannins.  Slightly mouth-puckering.  Very clean, refreshing, and nice and light.  Citrus notes (but I didn’t pick up the honey I smelled).  Not very appley however.  A small amount of complexity.  Light bodied.  Nice alternative to champagne although it isn’t very carbonated.  Quick finish.

Most Similar to:  Argus Ciderkin and Elemental Carbon, but less carbonation.  I honestly think I liked this one better than those two, which is sad as its commercial cider and both of those are craft.

Closing Notes:   Not bad, especially for commercial cider.  My husband especially liked this cider.  Not sure that I believe the 3 carbs per 12 oz on the label, but its definitely dry.  I ended up picking up a six pack of this mostly for my husband (who can’t have a lot of sugar so usually doesn’t get more than a sip or two of my ciders).  I’d recommend this for anyone who wants a drier cider but has trouble finding craft cider in their area, as its pretty widely available.  Its my favorite Ace cider so far.  For awhile I was really into their Pineapple, but my tastes have moved away from it.

Have you tried Ace Joker?  What did you think?

Ace Pineapple

This is a tropical pineapple flavored cider.

Cider:  Pineapple
Cidery:  Ace
Cidery Location:  Sebastopol, CA
ABV:  5%
How Supplied:  six pack of 12oz bottles
Availability:  wide release, year round

Description on Bottle:  Another first for ACE, our ACE PINEAPPLE cider nobody has done one before.  We marry pineapple and apple juice to make a thirst quencher cider that’s deliciously refreshing anytime of the year!

Price:  $8.99 / six pack
Where Bought:  Whole Foods, Total Wine
How Found: Browsing
Where Drank:  home

Opinion:  If you like pineapple, this cider is for you!  Its the only pineapple cider I’ve seen.  It is quite sweet though, and tastes obviously back sweetened (juice added after fermentation).  It tastes a bit too much like juice to me, although many folks may like that.  I’m surprised how low calorie it is for how sweet it is (175, where most sweet ciders top 200).  Refreshing and simple.  I do love pineapple though.  Ace offers a number of other ciders, from their dry Joker to a similar cider to the Pineapple one, except Berry, to their 21st anniversary Chardonnay barrel aged Blackjack 21 cider, and even a Pumpkin variety.  Overall I don’t find their ciders too impressive though (this is my favorite by far).  If you like sweet ciders and pineapple, you may like this cider.

Have you tried Ace Pineapple?  What did you think?

Cider at Seattle International Beerfest

I’m looking forward to attending the Seattle International Beerfest at Seattle Center, July 10-12 2015.  Hubby and I are even planning to take the day off work so we can get there right when they open at noon on Friday, to hopefully beat the crowds and ensure we get to taste everything we want.  This unfortunately isn’t an event which has representatives from the breweries & cideries (beer & cider is served by volunteers), but it is still a great opportunity to drink some cider (and beer).

Entry gets you a wristband, tasting glass, and a specific number of tickets.  Advance sales are $25 (10 tickets) or $45 (40 tickets).  At the door it is $30 cash (10 tickets).  Additional tickets are sold for $1 each.  Beer & cider tastes (4oz) cost between 1 and 7 tickets each depending on their cost, where most are 1-3 tickets.  There are also a few selections to get a full pint for only $3, including Crispin Blackberry (I assume they mean Blackberry Pear).  Note that not all selections are on tap (some are bottles).  There will be music and food trucks.  This event is appealing as it appears more spread out than many, which often crowd folks into a small location.  If you are going, I’d recommend planning ahead what you want to taste; this helpful map even includes their locations and the number of tickets each will cost.

Ciders they plan to have:

Ace Pinapple (draft, 5% ABV, from CA, 1 ticket) – a very sweet but tasty pineapple cider; I like this one

Aspall Dry Cider
(bottle, 6,8%, from England, 3 tickets) – dry English Draft style cider; I haven’t tried anything from them, so it’ll be on my list

Ace Blackjack 21
(bottle, 9%, from CA, 4 tickets) – a Chardonnay barrel cider which was a special release for their 21st birthday; this one was pretty good, but not worth the $15+ a bottle in my opinion

Crispin Blackberry (draft, 5%, from CA, only available as a pint for 3 tickets?) – I assume this is blackberry pear; I like this one – yummy and easy to drink, not too sweet

Crispin The Saint (bottle, 6.9%, from CA, 2 tickets) – part of their artisinal reserves, and has beer yeast & maple syrup; not a fan of this one as it tasted a bit like beer

Crispin Venus Reigns (bottle, 6.9%, from CA, 3 tickets) – wine barrel aged pear cider; I like this one, and surprisingly didn’t pick up much red wine taste, more berry/fruit – see my review

Rev Nat’s Hopland #5 / Envy (draft, 10.2%, from OR, 2 tickets) – a hopped cider in his 7 Deadly Sins collection; I haven’t tried it as I don’t like hopped ciders, but this would be a good time to have a taste as this stuff is pricey ($15), and for 2 tickets that is a good deal!

Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider (bottle, 5%, from England, 2 tickets) – apparently a plain cider which I haven’t gotten around to trying, so this will be on my list; my hubby likes their fruit ales

Wandering Angus Unspecified Variety (draft, TBD, from OR, TBD tickets) – no info given; a new release?; I’ll try it, although I haven’t liked two others from them (Wickson & Bloom, both too dry for my tastes, Wickson moreso)

Wyder’s Reposado Pear (draft, 6.9%, from VT, 1 ticket) – tequila barrel aged pear cider; I like this one – very smooth, and goes well with Mexican food, which can not often be said about cider!

Cider Says Weekly Preview

What posts to expect in the upcoming week at Cider Says:

  • Monday: Woodchuck Oopsy Daisy cider review
  • Tuesday: Cider at Seattle International Beerfest (July 10-12)
  • Wednesday: Angry Orchard mini cider reviews (Crisp Apple, Traditional Dry, Elderflower, Summer Honey, Iceman, & The Muse)
  • Thursday: Ace Pineapple cider review
  • Friday/Saturday: mystery new cider review
    • I’m still deciding what to try first, as (unfortunately for my bank account) I bought 9! new ciders over the weekend and still have 7 remaining:  Eaglemount Quince, NV Cider Half Past Prudent, Worley’s Premium Vintage, Atlas Hard Apple Cider, Liberty Manchurian Crabapple, Anthem Traditional, and Crispin Browns Lane Imported English Cider.

Stay tuned, and remember to follow by e-mail (sidebar on right, or at bottom of page on mobile devices) or follow on WordPress (top left bar) to be notified of new posts here at Cider Says.  Have a great week!