As America's cider palate has expanded, brewers and bars have driven a renaissance of artisanal hard cider. Distinguished by yeasty complexity and crisp dryness, the style is a big hit at hot spots like New York's Wassail. Too bad for them that they don't have Argus Fermentables.
The trio behind Argus – Wes Mickel, Jeff Mickel, and Jules Peterson – began crafting wine-style ciders in 2010. Fermentables' Ciderkin and pear-based Ginger Perry grew from their desire to offer a year-round product. While their first product requires up to two years to age, they can now brew a consistent product that only requires a five-week production cycle. Launched in March, the funky drinks have hit the shelves in time for summer.
"Ciderkin" is the traditional term for cidermaking by fermenting reconstituted apple pulp. Since the pulp is diluted, the alcohol content is greatly reduced. The result is a dry apple cider with straightforward fruit flavors. The Ginger Perry is fermented from pears, ginger, and other natural aromatics.
The taste of both may be surprising, however, to those only familiar with national cider brands. "Everything we make is going to be dry," explains Wes. He notes that consumers often perceive ciders as being soda-like. "Steps are taken to make it sweet," he warns against products with added sugar or even corn syrup. By contrast, "fermentables are made with carefully sourced ingredients. ... The finished product is bottled without pasteurization or filtering," he says. The result is a drink that is still alive and active, with nothing to detract from the fruit.
Both varieties are tart, not unlike sour beer. The Ciderkin offers a clean apple flavor and earthy notes, while pears bring roundness to the Perry. Wes says that it could act as an alternative to ginger beer for cocktails.
Unlike their nationally distributed Cidery line, they are keeping this line strictly local for the time being. But they did recently acquire a new bottler and are working to increase capacity. The curious can find the vintage-style amber bottles at major retailers like H-E-B and Spec's, as well as independent spots like Drink.Well, Odd Duck, and Quickie Pickie. And if our cider-crazed New York friends quote the right price, we might just start taking orders.
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