After recently getting back into hard cider, I found myself wanting to try more. I know that I'll exhaust the locally available options pretty quickly, but while driving home one night I was thinking about the subject and wondered, "If the wine shops carry big beer, do they carry big cider?"
The answer is a delicious yes. In the little corner devoted to Russian Imperial Ales and strong Belgians, I found a sixer of Woodchuck that was a bit stronger than the usual and whose details were far more interesting than the hard-to-read yellow on yellow label. I love a really good ginger ale and in recent years have used the rhizome a lot more in cooking, so I was excited for the inclusion in the cider. Would it be hot and spicy?
I let it chill in the fridge, got out my tall pilsner glass, and gave it a try...
Woodchuck Private Reserve Ginger
6.9% abv., $10/6-pack
With low carbonation and a high alcohol content, this is approaching an apple wine. What's the difference? Hard cider is lower in alcohol and carbonated. Apple wine is still and higher in alcohol. (In fact, cheap, mass-produced cider can be made by importing apple wine from Canada and diluting it with fizzy water.) It has a glorious Golden Delicious aroma and flavor that is bright and full of sunshine. Crisp and dry with just a little bite from the ginger. Julia and I had some of the other bottles with a couple of hearty salads and it was a great accompaniment. Highly recommended and worth a little detour while you're at the liquor store.