Flatbed Cider Crisp Apple is a new cider from Oregon in the Pacific North West of the USA. It is aiming to be a dry rustic cider, does the Flatbed Cider hit the spot?
I hear so many things about what’s going on in the American cider market thanks to twitter and podcasts. But it is a rare opportunity to taste any. So when Flatbed Cider offered me some samples I jumped at the chance.
Flatbed Cider is made from Red Delicious, Golden Delicious and a few old fashion American favorites like Newtown Pippins and Gravensteins.
The bottle is decked out in red flannel like a proper Portlandian lumberjack/ hipster, I can never tell the difference. What’s more exciting is what’s on the back of the label. An ingredients list! I don’t know if this is by law or good will, but full credit to them. The downside is that it lists my nemesis – Apple Juice Concentrate. It is listed after hard apple cider so I hope that real cider can carry the flavours.
The first thing that hits your nose is the smell of an apple that has been cut and left to oxidise. There is a strong presence of the green apple flavored boiled lollies, that would be hard candies to State Siders. At first, it seems unnatural but under that top layer there is more of a red apple skin scent mix with a good handful of white table grapes
My first impression is this isn’t as sweet as I thought it was going to be from reading the ingredients list. The tannin structure is impressive if not a little one dimensional. There is more of that boiled lollie flavour minus the sugar. There is a little bit of bitter cherry in there too.
If the Flatbed Cider was a band, the tannin would be on the lead guitar, shredding hard. The mouth feel is the drummer keeping beat with a gentle sparking of the high-hat on the offbeat. He needs to be hitting those symbols harder, a little more fizz would not go astray. But the balance is off, the keyboardist and the dude on the bass didn’t make it to the gig. There is a hole in the cider. It’s missing the deeper complexity.
I want some more acids highlighted, give me more earthy bass notes. The balance is off, the band has lost its rhythm. The tannins are great thick and powerful but as soloist I’m not sure it works. They hang around after the gig is over which is where some balance from the acids would help, particularly if it’s called “Crisp Apple”.
Final Thoughts on the Flatbed Cider
First let me start with a caveat, Flat Bed cider sent me some bottles as a sample to write about from the US. Some work colleagues flew it back from San Francisco to Sydney for me. From my experience ciders don’t fly very well. They tend to loose CO2, meaning they are not as fizzy as they should be. I put this down to being in the unpressurized baggage hold. The CO2 increases the acidity and the bubbles have a cutting effect on the heavier flavors. So I’ll give the benefit of the doubt that some bubbles have been lost in transit.
The fact of the matter remains that this cider uses Apple Juice Concentrate(AJC). In my humble opinion in the process of removing the excess water from the juice the heat applied kills off the subtleties in the juice. Aromatics get boiled off. Now the Flatbed does use some real juice to make the cider before topping off with some AJC but this isn’t enough to carry all the nuance through to the final bottled product.
Hopefully I can get over to Oregon in the next year and see how Flat Bed Cider has grown. And I hope trying it in the natural environment means there are a few more bubbles in my pint.
As this is Flatbed Cider’s first release I want to offer constructive feedback. It’s drinkable and enjoyable but it could be more. The tannin structure is a great starting place but it needs the support of some more acids. To regain the complexity that it needs, loose the concentrate and let those fine Oregon State apple shine.
|Crisp Apple Cider
|Country of Origin