Newton’s Folly Semi-Dry

Review of Newton’s Folly Semi-Dry.  This is a Trader Joe’s exclusive, made at the Woodchuck facility, and appears to replace their two previous versions in 12oz bottles (red & green labels).

Cider:  Newton’s Folly Semi-Dry
Cidery:  American Hard Cider Company
Cidery Location:  Middlebury VT
ABV:  5.0%
How Supplied:  four pack of 16oz cans
Style:  American commercial semi-dry cider, partially from bittersweet apples

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Availability:  only at Trader Joe’s

Cider Description:  Hard Cider has a history that reaches back hundreds of years in Vermont, where our Newton’s Folly is fermented and canned.  Newton’s Folly Semi-Dry uses bittersweet apples to deliver a cider that is not too sweet and leaves you thirsty for another!  We do offer a heads up, however.  Enjoy this fine cider under an apple tree at your own risk.

Price:  ~$2.50 / can ?
Where Bought:  Trader Joe’s
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  browsing

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First Impression:  Dark straw yellow hue.  Low carbonation.  Smells mild, of apple juice.

Tasting Notes:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Medium bodied.  Low tartness.  Low to moderate acidity.  Hints of bitterness and tannins.  No sourness or funk.  Notes of apple, honey, apple pomace, pineapple, and lemon.  Moderate apple flavor and flavor intensity.  High sessionability.  Low to moderate complexity.

My Opinion:  I liked it.  Easy to drink, but it had some complexity and wasn’t too sweet.  I thought it was far better than their previous “Authentic” version, which just tasted like a slightly watered down version of Woodchuck Amber.  However, although the can mentioned bittersweet apples, I believe only a small amount were used.

Most Similar to:  Bertolinos (except Newton’s Folly is lower carbonation) and Bite Hard Semi-Sweet

Closing Notes:  This was far better than I had been expecting, a nice surprise.

Have you tried Newton’s Folly?  What did you think?

Henry Hotspur’s Hard Pressed for Cider

Review of Henry Hotspur’s Hard Pressed for Cider, only available at Trader Joe’s.

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Cider:  Henry Hotspur’s Hard Pressed for Cider
Cidery:  Hard Pressed Cider Company, which according to some Googling may be part of Gordon Biersch Brewing
Cidery Location:  San Jose CA
ABV:  5.8%
How Supplied:  22oz (650ml) bottle

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Availability:  wide release, year round, only at Trader Joe’s

Cider Description:  Made from fresh pressed apples from the Pacific Northwest, Hard Pressed Cider company has a refreshing take on cider. Fresh pressed apple juice is fermented with brewing yeast and the resulting cider is slightly sweetened by adding back unfermented apple juice. That’s it. The finished cider is clean, crisp and delightfully enjoyable.

Cidery Description:  None found.  Have any information on them?  Contact me so I can add it.

Price:  $2.49
Where Bought:  Trader Joe’s
Where Drank:  home
How Found:  Browsing.  I had tried this awhile back and decided to revisit it.

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First Impression:  Light straw yellow.  Light carbonation.  Foam ring.  Light clean apple scent, slightly yeasty.

Opinion:  On the sweeter side of semi-dry.  Low acidity and tartness.  No bitterness.  Slight generic apple juice flavor.  Its definitely an easy drinking & refreshing cider variety.  Not too many identifiable flavor notes.  It could use more flavor (its a bit on the watery side).  However, I’ve definitely paid much more for cider I liked much less.  I commend them for not using any concentrates or additives, which is unheard of at this price point.  This cider per ounce would be equal to an $8.18 price point for a six pack of 12oz bottles, which is quite in line with commercial ciders.

Most Similar to:  Other light easy drinking flagship ciders.

Closing Notes:  This is a solid cider selection, especially for the cost.  I’d consider getting it again.  I’ve particularly been looking for an easy drinking affordable craft cider which is to my liking, as I can’t always drink the good stuff.  However, I think in this case I’d spend a bit more and get the Dan Armor Cuvée Spéciale Cidre Brut ($4.99 for a 750ml, French import) from Trader Joe’s, which I find truly impressive.  Its literally on my list of top ciders, along with a lot of ciders in the $10-$20 / bottle range.  If I didn’t like variety / trying new ciders, I’d pick up a case of that and call it done.

Have you tried Henry Hotspur’s Hard Pressed for Cider?  What did you think?

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?