First out of the gate for Cider Week is Alexander Keith’s Original Cider. Right out of the box (literally) Keith’s wins the massively over-the-top packaging award. My two cans of Original Cider arrived in a 22″x14″x7.5″ wooden crate. Included was a glass, an insulated ice bowl with a partition to separate chilling ice and serving ice, a scoop and a spiral-bound booklet on the cider with pairing recipes. Zowie. This totally tops the locked wooden box I got a while back (and broke into). Now what you need to know: Made under the Keith’s name, this cider is actually brewed and packaged in New York state at an Anheuser-Busch brewery. I’ll be honest with you: I’m not down with that. At least they print it (in very small, low-contrast letters) on the side of the can, so it’s not “hidden”. Still. Part of the romance of Keith’s is the east-coast of Canada. If it’s made by Anheuser-Busch, why not brand it that way? Anyway, let’s give it a go.
From a 473ml can with some sort of batch date on the bottom, Alexander Keith’s Original Cider pours a light straw yellow, with a bit of foamy head that drops to a bit of film supported by a very active carbonation. Aroma is immediately apples, lightly crisp and a little tart. Maybe a touch of something floral. Taste is similar: juicy apples, hinting at granny smith. There isn’t a whole lot of complexity in the apples. I’m not sure what variety of apples they used (or if it was just one), but it seems a bit one dimensional. Lightly tart and quite sweet but very light on the palate. To be honest, I would call it thin. There is a little warmth of alcohol on the finish, which is otherwise fairly tart. If not for the alcohol, it would be very easy to forget this was a hard cider, and think your were sipping a sweetened carbonated apple “drink”. The carbonation, despite being very active, is much more inline with a traditional cider though, and is not prickly or reminiscent of soda-pop. It provides a pleasing effervescence, which in this case, adds some weight/interest, rather than cutting a medium bodied drink.
Over Ice – Aroma is still there, but is muted, it smells almost like apple peels. Taste is also still tart apples, but it is much less tart than refrigerated. The sugar is also less pronounced, and the body is even thinner (and thinning further as the ice melts). I know why people drink cider with ice, and this is a classic example. I could probably drain a pint glass of ice-cold cider in 3 gulps.
To be honest, this isn’t my kind of cider. It’s too sweet and light-bodied. The apple flavour is quite nice (not at all synthetic), and the tartness keeps it interesting, but I prefer a more complex cider. That being said, especially over ice, this is going to be a huge selling entry-level cider. Bright and refreshing I have no doubt it will sell very very well, and could possibly introduce a lot of people to the world of ciders. And I wouldn’t say “no” if somebody handed me one. I won’t hesitate to drink my other can happily.
About the Cidery
Alexander Keith’s maintains the quality and heritage first introduced by Alexander Keith himself in 1820. Only the finest barley malt and select hops are used to brew the Keith’s fine beers, which include the popular Alexander Keith’s India Pale Ale – Ontario’s #1 premium draught beer – Keith’s Amber Red, Keith’s Dark and Keith’s Premium White. It is with the same attention to detail and quality that Alexander Keith’s introduces its new Original Cider, a high-quality apple cider with a well-balanced and refreshing taste.