Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut

Review of Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut, a budget-friendly imported French cider from Trader Joe’s.

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Cider:  Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut
Cidery:  Dan Armor
Cidery Location:  Brittany France
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  750ml glass bottle

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Availability:  wide release at Trader Joe’s (since Dec 2014)

Cider Description:  What Trader Joe’s Vintage Ale is to beer, Dan•Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut is to hard cider. Hard cider has been around for centuries, and is currently enjoying a huge upswing in popularity. With all the options available, we found ourselves drawn to the cork-finished ciders made in the Brittany region of France, where a co-op of apple growers has been producing small-batch, hand-crafted cider since 1953. Their apples are grown in Brittany, and the cider definitely has a “local flavor” that makes it unlike any of the other ciders we offer.  Dan•Armor is made with two ingredients – fresh-pressed apple juice and brewing yeast. The cider is bottle fermented (like sparkling wine), which allows the live yeast to develop into fine bubbles – small amounts of CO2 are added to create uniform bubbles throughout each batch. It’s dry and crisp (thus the Brut designation), with forward notes of apples, and strong, persistent bubbles. It’s incredibly drinkable and not at all sweet, a refreshing take on a centuries-old classic.

Price:  $4.99
Where Bought:  Trader Joe’s
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Lovely deep golden orange hue.  Highly carbonated.  Significant head upon pouring which quickly dissipated.  Ripe cooked apple, vanilla, caramel, and brown sugar scent.

Opinion:  Between semi-dry & semi-sweet, which was sweeter than I was expecting, but good.  Effervescent mouthfeel.  The ripe cooked apple, vanilla, caramel, & brown sugar notes continue to the flavor.  Crisp & smooth, and very refreshing,  Light-bodied.  Very flavorful and a bit unique, but not bold.  Slight earthiness, but no funk.  I’m curious what apple varieties they use, but couldn’t find detailed information.  Almost no detectable bitterness, acidity, or tartness.  This cider was a crowd pleaser, and the other three tasters I had all agreed it was good.  It quickly disappeared!  Easy to drink, so its probably good it was only 5% ABV.

Most Similar to:  Other French ciders, although this is a bit sweeter than typical I believe.  French cider seems very similar to English cider.

Closing Notes:   Very tasty!  This is an awesome deal for $5 as well.  I’ll be picking up more for sure.

Have you tried Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut?  What did you think?

Crispin Browns Lane

Here is a unique commercial cider from Crispin, 100% English made, from English bittersweet apples,


Cider:  Browns Lane Imported Classic English Dry Cider
(named after first Jaguar car factory location in England)
Cidery:  Crispin
Cidery Location:  Colfax, CA
ABV:  5.8%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans
Availability:  wide release, year round (since 2011)

Description on Can:  Authentically British, from its bespoke tailoring, to its superb craftsmanship, most defined by its world champion character.  Classic English dry cider from English bittersweet cider apples.

Price:  $8.99 / four pack (although I bought a single can for about $3)
Where Bought:  Total Wine (although I’ve seen it other places, such as Fred Meyer & Whole Foods)
How Found: Browsing, after reading a review by Cider Sage which convinced me I may just like this one
Where Drank:  home

Opinion:  First impression is the amount of sparking when poured into the glass, and the deeper amber color, more so than many ciders.  For some reason this really reminds me of semi-dry oak aged ciders, such as Schilling Oak Aged, although this is not barrel aged.  I pick up a light earthy oak flavor.  Even though this was drier, it was still very drinkable even to my palate which prefers sweeter ciders.  I wouldn’t call it a fully dry cider though, as I have had a number of ciders which were more dry, even when usually trying to avoid them.

It starts out a bit sweeter (with an almost caramelized sugar type flavor) and finishes a bit drier, with the bittersweet apple flavor coming through.  I wouldn’t however call it overly tart, which I have picked up in some drier ciders.  I’m surprised how much I like this one actually!  This is quite different than Crispin’s other selections, which vary from their fairly plain Original, to plain & blackberry pear varieties, to their Artisanal Reserve line.  I’m curious how closely this actually resembles a traditional English Farmhouse cider, because if it does, I’m a fan!

Have you tried Crispin Browns Lane?  What did you think?