Kudos to Mark Ciocco, not only for his efforts at reviving The Session but coming up with a great topic, Double Feature, where the basic idea is to compare and contrast two consecutively consumed beers. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m all for crystal ball gazing, thinking deeply on esoteric beer concepts, or waxing philosophical on beer culture. But I love his Session topic harks back to an earlier, simpler time of The Session, where the idea was let’s all drink a beer and talk about it. Maybe too many topics only a hard core beer geek could possibly care about, let alone write about, was a big part of why The Session was almost no more.
OK, back to today’s topic. Indeed, tasting two beers consecutively reveals the minute details otherwise lost on the brain through the fog of time. As a homebrewer, seeing how my brews measure up to the best examples the professional brewing world is both a great way to learn and often a deeply humbling experience.
Mark calls himself “a big tent guy” so I’ll put that to the test for this session with a post about cider rather than beer. I’ve had a had a few ciders here and there, some I’ve enjoyed, others not so much. Ciders remain hot, growing in popularity to the point where it’s time for me to figure out what all the fuss is about. I’ll be exploring this new world over the next couple months and exploration is a big part of what craft beer is all about. I suppose that is a bit of tenuous connection to this month’s topic, but hope you’ll all work with me here.
San Jose’s Gordon Biersch Brewing, sent me a couple bottles of their new cider line Wildcide to sample which seemed like a good place to start. I figured Gordon Biersch would be putting out a good product, but thought it would be good to compare Wildcide to Samuel Smith’s Organic Cider, which won a few awards over its time.
I tried the Wildcide first, hoping it wouldn’t taste like carbonated apple juice. It didn’t. I liked that it was rather dry, giving the apple flavors crispness and had a nice residual tartness. Then I tried to the Samuel Smith’s. Compared to Wildcide, it was a little sweeter, a little more complex, heavier, and also had a slight tartness at the end. I found both refreshing and pleasantly sessionable. And yes, it’s doubtful I’d have picked up the slightly noticeable, but significant differences without sampling these ciders consecutively. As for which one I preferred, I’d be fine with either of them, but I liked the dryness of the Wildcide, so that’s my pick.
One thing learned from this exercise is that ciders are a study in subtleties, without the booming hop and roasted malt flavors you get with beer. But perhaps more importantly for the long term health of blogging, simply drinking a beer, cider, or whatever and telling the world from our own corners of cyberspace may be pretty simplistic, but still has its rewards.