Posts tagged ‘Hard’

Doc’s Draft Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider – Warwick Valley Wine Co.

Docs Draft copy

It’s fairly obvious to anyone with a taste for alcohol that the years of craft beer are in a new renaissance. Everywhere you turn, from the swankiest taprooms, to the lowliest dives, you’re going to be able to get your hands on at least a few solid alternatives to mass manufactured lagers. Something we’ve noticed in the last two years however, is among the beer ranks, there are plenty of fermented fruit options popping up as well. With ciders swelling in popularity, it’s not uncommon to find lists of flavor variations floating around, and pumpkin is fresh on the table to join its ranks. So if you just want some easy drinking along with your autumn offerings, here’s another option for your fridge.


Name:  Doc’s Draft Pumpkin Hard Apple Cider

Place of Origin / Brewer: Warwick, New York / Warwick Valley Wine Co.

Beer style / ABV%:  Pumpkin Hard Cider / 6.00%

Specialty Prep / Individuality:  Doc’s Pumpkin Cider is pressed from New York state apples and fresh roasted pumpkins in the fermenter. It features champagne yeast and malic acid, and is spiced with cinnamon, allspice, fresh ginger, and nutmeg. It is naturally gluten free.



A simple yet classic design, this label has an old world appeal. Nice touch with the gold foil wrap, and the artwork makes it very apparent that this is a pumpkin cider. – Rick

With a very Revolutionary War-era vibe, this label reminds me of a hanging shingle outside a pub circa the late 18th century.  A quote from Thoreau rounds things out – adding a very classy air to this cider. – Tim


Color:  6

Golden straw in the fall sunset. There’s a quick fizzy head and a ton of carbonation from the bottom of the glass, which is tinted eyeglasses clear. – Mike

Golden, almost like champagne in appearance. There are so many bubbles due to carbonation. The only inkling of haze is the condensation on the cold glass; this cider is super clear and glowing. – Brittney

M- 6.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 8 / R- 4


Aroma:  6

An unexpected amount of pie spice on the nose with cinnamon as the dominate flavor profile – after that it’s all apples for as far as the eye can see—or rather—the nose can smell. – Tim

Cinnamon, ginger, and clove apper quite bold over a slight touch of fruity pumpkin, but mostly the glass gives an impression of baked cinnamon apples, rather than pumpkin pie. – Mike

M- 5.5 / T- 6 / B- 7 / R- 5.5


Mouth feel:  5.5

Mellow apple and pumpkin flavoring washes over the tongue, and as expected there is a strong tart presence. Overall, this cider is clean, light bodied, and watery. – Rick

The carbonation is there visually but surprisingly not in the amount that you would expect in the mouth feel, obviously light bodied, no where near as syrupy as I would have expected. – Brittney

M- 4 / T- 5 / B- 7 / R- 6


Tasting notes:  6.5

This is not your European dry cider. It’s sour-sweet, with a one-two punch of cinnamon and clove. There is a bit of creaminess that I would suspect is contributed by he pumpkin, but a big spike of acid makes this more of a warm weather version of a mulled cider than a stomach warming pumpkin treat. – Mike

A touch dry on the initial sip with an explosion of pure apple juice that’s been spiked with a cinnamon swizzle stick, but immediate the sweetness kicks in and man it does not let up – reaching apple soda levels.  It’s far too much of a candy beverage for me – like those sparkling ciders that the parents would serve the kids table during Thanksgiving. – Tim

This is refreshing, it is first and foremost a hard apple cider (so keep that in mind you hearty dark beer drinkers) with notes of cinnamon and ginger and a touch of pumpkin gently found throughout. Tastes like an apple/ginger/pumpkin pie with great notes of brown sugar and butter. – Brittney

Nice tart red apples mixed with sweet pumpkin and spice balance well to make this a tasty imbibement. The pumpkin is just the right amount to compliment the pleasant apple flavor. The best aspect that I take from this brew is it’s pretty refreshing and light on the palate. – Rick

M- 5.5 / T- 5.5 / B- 7 / R- 7.5


Finish:  5

The finish is basic mulled apple cider.  You tend to loose the nuances of specific flavors in a barrage of spices, but it’s that sort of finish that keeps you coming back to try and figure it out. – Brittney

It’s a little too much like juice for me, but the carbonation does help put a bit of a bite on the end. The body finishes nice and tart as expected from a cider, but that doesn’t keep it from being too cloying after each sip. – Rick

M- 3.5 / T- 5 / B- 5 / R- 5.5


Flavor balance:  5

         Pumpkin to Spice balance: 4.5

If it didn’t have a pumpkin on the label, I wouldn’t suspect it might be in there at all. The spice, however, you can smell three feet from the glass. – Mike

It’s almost unfair to scale this.  The spice is prominently cinnamon, touches of nutmeg and allspice are in there but there is no pumpkin to be had.  It’s more like pumpkin spiced apple pie – and about the same level of sweetness too. – Tim

M- 1 / T- 4.5 / B- 6 / R- 5.5

         Sweet / Dry balance: 4.5

This one is hit and miss for me. The sweetness fits the overall cider style, but I feel it’s too pronounced. However, there is a bit of dry apple on the finish, but it’s just not enough to reel in this sugary drink.- Rick

Given the champagne yeast, I would have thought this might sneak in a dry finish, but it proves to be tongue coating sugar sweet one the bubbles have faded. – Mike

M- 3 / T- 4 / B- 6 / R- 4

         Multiple Drinkability?  5.5

Very light and easy to drink and, for the most part, complex enough to keep you interested. – Brittney

If I wanted to substitute soda for alcohol then this would probably hit the mark. It’s definitely more of a summer drink, but with the fall flavor profile it actually seems schizophrenic at best. – Tim

M- 5 / T- 4.5 / B- 7 / R- 6.5


Overall:  5.67

M- 4.67 / T- 5.25 / B- 6.75 / R- 5.67


Ace Hard Pumpkin Cider – California Cider Company

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.



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