Woodchuck Hard Cider’s latest foray into boozy appledom is a planned collection of ciders called the 802 Collection. The concept: All ciders in the lineup will be made with only Vermont-grown apples.
All varieties in this collection will be traditional ciders made with only fresh pressed Vermont juice from our orchard partners. One of our biggest partners is Sunrise Orchards, and owner Barney Hodges recently told Cider Culture, “What the hard cider industry has done for farms in Vermont, and our farm, is that it has provided value to the lowest segment of what we grow as apple providers…That’s helping the economic viability of farms like ours.”
Installment #1 in the 802 Collection (802 is the area code for Vermont) is called Lil’ Dry, a semi-dry cider made with nothing but Vermont apple juice and yeast. Availability is very limited, largely in Maine and New Hampshire. (Sorry, Vermont!)
And even though I live in California, I wrangled a couple of cans for review. Let’s dig in!
No question, it’s a big winner for the cider category: Bold and clear apples infuse the nose, with nary a touch of that malty barnyard funk that mars many other ciders. It’s not at all sweet, just fresh with unadulterated apple notes. The palate finds a balance that is nearly perfect, with just the mildest amount of sweetness (though there’s no added sugar in the recipe), and a finish that hints at cinnamon. Sure, this is a straightforward, apple-centric cider, but if you can’t enjoy that, well, you should probably have a beer instead.
A- / $11 per four-pack of 16 oz cans