Crispin Stagger Lee

Cider. I always tell the story about how I once helped judge the Cider category at the Miami Area Society of Homebrewers’ Coconut Cup. I had no idea what was supposed to be a good cider or a crappy cider; frankly, the vast majority of examples I’d had taste very simply like carbonated apple juice and a little alcohol. There’s a French cider I like called Etienne Dupont, but beyond that I had, for the longest time, found the entire style category entirely uninspiring.

This has now changed! As it turned out, all I needed was some cider with a bit of heart and soul. Enter the Crispin Cider Company. Crispin has me excited about cider. My first taste was of their Honeycrisp, a lush, unfiltered cider that looked more like a Belgian witbier in the glass, it was so cloudy with sediment. I tried The Saint, a stronger cider that had been fermented by Belgian abbey ale yeast. Their “Lansdowne” cider is fermented by a yeast strain commonly used in Irish stouts, and brewed with molasses – I have that one in my fridge awaiting a trial. Tonight, however, I’m trying Stagger Lee, a blended 6.9% cider with apple wines, aged in rye whiskey barrels. I’d seen @DailyBeerReview Rob drinking this one on the By The Glass show, and I was hoping I’d get a chance to pick one up. Well, a couple days ago at Total Wine, I got that chance, and here I am.

It looks as I now expect from Crispin – very cloudy with some visible sediment and a white-gold body. Minimal foam.

I’m not getting too much in the nose beyond straight up apple juice and a note of Sprite. Maybe the rye barrels won’t quite contribute so much flavor.

Well, that was some faulty conjecture. This cider is quite sweet and flavorful, with major juicy apple flavor up front, riding the lush mouthfeel I expect from an unfiltered product like this. The rye barrels contribute a note of spiciness at mid-back palate, and also a suntan lotion-y coconut-vanilla taste. It is very tasty, and drinks easily to say the least. I enjoyed this in all of 15 minutes. If I was in the mood to be picky, I might say that it’s somewhat too sweet, but I think that’s just the apples that were used here – obviously juicy sweet apples; lots of sugars were left unfermented. Maybe a Champagne yeast could have eaten them up and made for a drier cider, but then we’d be looking at some serious carbonation, much higher ABV, and probably the need for a thick-walled 750ml bottle.

Grab one if you see it, but be aware that it’s sweet.

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