A craft cider that surprisingly stands up to its maltier compatriots.
A few Saturdays ago, I was stumbling around the Grand Army Plaza farmer's market after enjoying a leisurely early morning off-leash stroll around Prospect Park with my pup, Miko. After picking out a fresh, disgusting dog bone from the butcher stand, we wandered over to a stand I had never seen before -- Bad Seed Hard Cider. They were perched right next to the cider donut stand, so I'm not sure how I missed them before -- I'm a big fan of those little donuts.
Now, I wouldn't describe myself as a cider fan. I'm about as interested in cider as I am wine -- it's not that I'm against it, just not so into it. A cold, crisp glass of cider or white wine has its place: a hot, muggy Summer day or a September afternoon spent apple picking in the country. But, I wouldn't order one at a bar. No, sir.
Despite my prejudice, something about Bad Seed caught my eye. Maybe it was the adorable typeface on the label or the cute apple farmers behind the counter. Whatever it was, I'm glad I stopped by. Bad Seed features a sizable fleet of styles most cider drinkers couldn't dream of -- things like Belgian-style cider, a bourbon barrel aged variety and a hopped cider called "India Pale Cider" or "IPC." Craft cider? This is a thing? Apparently. Maybe it's a marketing ploy to pull us craft beer geeks off of our high hoppy horses... but it worked! I picked up a bottle of IPC and ran home to give it a try.
While they don't have a website, with a little research I dug up an Almanac Weeky story that explains a bit of Bad Seed's background. Devin Britton and Albert Wilklow started the operation in 2012, housing a fleet of 150-glasson tanks on their Highland, New York property. Devin's a cook and makes all the recipes while Albert grows the apples. Like all great craft brewers, these fellas clearly aren't afraid of a little experimentation. Besides the requisite fruit, the ciders feature an array of other add-ins, like orange peel, coriander, wine and wild yeasts and of course, hops.
The cider pours a hazy tangerine-yellow, topped with a tiny bit of white head. The aroma is a little sweeter than I expected, with some grassy notes from the hops. It's fruit forward, with a big punch of sour apple juice that overwhelms the palate at first. Then comes the hops, cutting a clear path through the sweet-and-sour apples to thankfully dry out the whole experience. The citrus and the apple play nicely together on the palate and the cider smoothes out by the finish. I could have done with a bit more hops, but that's me and as I said, I'm not much of a cider. This cider does do a great job of balancing complex flavor with universal appeal, which isn't an easy feat. Hats off to the creators.
If you're around NYC, head to your local market and ask around for Bad Seed Cider Company. I'm thinking their bourbon barrel aged cider ought to be pretty damn good... like vanilla ice cream meets apple pie with a pool of Makers Mark on top? Yes, please.