We’re almost there folks, just one short review away from the end of the season for us, and we’re pleased to find a diamond in the rough for our final approach. We’ve seen a few pumpkin ciders along our way so far, and not much good has come of it. Sonoma County’s own Ace seems to tip the glass in our favor though, opting for a more traditional spiced offering that just might beat the odds.

 ___________________________________________________________________________________

Name:  Ace Hard Pumpkin Cider

Place of Origin / Brewer: California, USA / California Cider Company

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Cider / 5.0%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Ace is a fall seasonal cider made from fermented apples, pumpkin and allspice, ideal for harvest time holidays. It’s also Gluten free, which is a nice alternative if you can’t rock the grains.

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Packaging:

There is something to be said for simplicity and starkness–and Ace is saying loud and clear with this black label featuring an ‘Ace of Pumpkins’.  Simple and direct.  The neck also features some pertinent facts about the cider maker’s process–which is a nice addition and something we don’t often see in Hard Ciders. – Tim

Ace sports a clever and to the point pun based logo, with the high card on the front on a black field (in this case, the ace of pumpkins). Reflecting the squash in the neck as well, there’s no mistaking this one as a seasonal brew, and it’s straight to it attitude leaves enough room for a first in my book: nutritional information. It’s gluten free, and it’s reminding you that at 175 calories a pop, you’re gonna get fat after a few. Thanks? – Mike

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Color:  5.5

It pours a pale golden color like a bold lager, while maintaining a translucent body.  There is no head, which was expected, but it did have some lacing. – Rick

Crystal clear and bubbly.  It’s a very light straw to gold color that resembles…you guessed it… sparkling apple juice.  Also, it’s a cider so I didn’t really expect a head or very heavy lacing but when poured aggressively there was a small white head with a solid ring of lacing. – Brittney

Honey crisp gold, and clear as,well, apple juice, this cider is true to its style: clean and appealing. The Slight lean to the orange side of golden gives you a hint of pumpkin, if only in artifice, and the head pops down to a smoggy float across the top, and our favored white ring. – Mike

M- 5.5 / T- 6.5 / B- 6.5 / R- 4

 ___________________________________________________________________________________

Aroma:  7

The sweetness of apples greets with hay notes, pumpkin and allspice all follow thereafter. – Tim

Right away, I’m hit in the face with many aromas.  The fruity aspects flourish at first with pumpkin being bolder than the apple base.  There are sugary notes as well, and all together give off a sweet banana-like scent that I can’t wait to taste. – Rick

The aroma of apple from the cider is what hits my nose first.  The curious thing is that it’s not as overly sweet as most ciders smell.  You definitely find how the pumpkin sort of mellows out that characteristic and then get only a touch of the spice buried deep within. – Brittney

M- 7 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 8.5

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Mouth feel:  7

At first, it seems tart and becomes sweetly smooth with a bit of carbonation.  It feels syrupy and somewhat honey-like, but thin and watery coating my mouth well. – Rick

Very crisp and very active.  It’s refreshingly clean up front with only a hint of the syrupiness that could very easily take over with this style of brew.  – Brittney

M- 6 / T- 7 / B- 7 / R- 7

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Tasting notes:  7

Allspice and cinnamon kick to the front on this cooler take on the chilly seasonsal favorite. The sweetness of the apple juice and slight tingle of the alcohol separate nicely to offset the sour pumpkin presence that lingers on a bit with the spice, making this the more defined of our cider offerings so far. – Mike

This is a sweet cider, with the spice coming on much stronger on the palate, and noticeable cinnamon in the body.   But the spice feels out of place and presents itself in a more cloying manner giving this drink a bit too much artificiality.  Sadly, we’re stepping into ‘Yankee Candle territory’ on this one. – Tim

As I noticed in the aroma, the pumpkin really mellows out the possibility of any overtly sweet notes.  The allspice is very bright and seems to play a supporting role at the beginning and finish that really shines through as it warms.  – Brittney

It’s exactly what I expected a pumpkin cider to taste like.  The pumpkin flavor fits outstandingly well with it’s apple foundation, while the cinnamon and allspice sweeten it just enough before making it too spicy. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 6.5 / B- 7 / R- 8

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Finish:  7

The apple is the first to fade and the spicy dryness is a nice and bold aspect to this finish which makes me prize it. Accommodating it’s departure is the sour pumpkin, and you really get a fermentation feel here, reminiscent of the finish of a honey mead, but lacking the punishing sweetness. – Mike

The finish is nice, clean and crisp.  I was expecting that usual filmy mouth, hangover before you’ve even finished cider and got something completely different. – Brittney

A medium finish that lends itself to the sweet side which will work if you prefer your hard ciders sweet, but I tend to fall of the crisp/dry ‘white wine’ side of cider drinkers.  I’m looking for snap in the step that Ace is offering. – Tim

M- 7 / T- 7 / B- 6.5 / R- 7

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Flavor balance:  7

–         Pumpkin to Spice balance:

The cinnamon and allspice could overdo it here, but they are restrained to being sweet accents to a great pumpkin flavor.  Also of note, the pumpkin really shines with the help of the apple cider backbone. – Rick

This one is an entire experience, through the first half of the glass I would say that the pumpkin had a little more shine, as I got to the second half and it had warmed a bit the allspice really came out nicely. – Brittney

M- 6.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 8 / R- 8.5

–         Sweet / Dry balance:

It’s sweet in the front and finishes on a dry and sour spiced note, which keeps it evenly in check. Some might find it pushing a bit to the sweet side, but chances are, those people just don’t like cider in general. – Mike

The crisp dryness holds back the sweet from becoming overwhelming.  I think without this aspect keeping it in check this cider could be so sweet it would detract from the great flavors. – Rick

M- 7 / T- 7.5 / B- 7.5 / R- 8

–         Multiple Drinkability?

In a climate like ours here in Florida, this has all the appeal of the cool and crisp autumn and hot ciders that I used to have as a kid during getaways further north, with the added appeal of reducing the chances that I’m sweating out my shirt at the bar. Throw in a moderate abv and a solid tasty appeal, and I could punish six of these, no problem. – Mike

On a hot day, I could drink more than my fair share of these in place of soda and with the 5% ABV I’d probably not be any worse for wear, but if drinkers are looking for a ‘pumpkin cider’ an unbeatable hand, might want to deal again.  It’s good but it’s good in a ‘two pair’ kinda way.  You’ll probably beat most of the other hands, but it’s hardly a cinch. – Tim

This cider is probably the best cider I’ve had. I really enjoyed it for a fall pumpkin brew.  I could see this becoming too sweet after quite a few, but it’s a small price to pay. – Rick

M- 8 / T- 6 / B- 6 / R- 8

______________________________________________________________________________________________

Overall:  6.75

M- 6.58 / T- 6.58 / B- 6.83 / R- 7.08

Advertisements