The last time we tried the hard cider at Woodside Orchards’ Aquebogue location, it was October, and the tasting room also featured bins of apples and sweet cider drinks, plus cider doughnuts. This time, we were too early for the apple harvest, so all that was on offer were the hard ciders and the cider doughnuts. However, the five-year-old and the two-year-old we had in tow were pleased with the doughnuts, and worked off their sugar high out in the back yard of the tasting room, playing bean bag toss with a few other children who were also happily running around.
Meanwhile, the adults took turns going back into the tasting room to bring out samples of the four different ciders on offer, at $6 for all four, served in a plastic cup. Each couple decided to share one tasting, which worked out fine. Hard cider has a similar alcohol content to some beers, at 6.8% alcohol, and like beer from a brewery is also available to take out in growlers, $18 for 64 ounces. Unlike beer, hard cider is a fairly delicate drink, more like a sparkling wine than anything else I can think of.
- Traditional Hard Cider
The tasting starts off with this rather straightforward cider, a bit bubbly, with a clear taste and smell of apples. It is fairly dry, and would pair well with a pork roast, we decide.
- Sweet Traditional
Yes, it is sweet, more like a dessert wine in its sugar level than like a non-dry sparkling wine. However, our daughter finds it refreshing, and could see drinking it on a warm evening instead of a beer, or at the beach with prosciutto and melon. We also decide that, because it goes down so easily, more like a soda than an alcoholic drink, it could be dangerous. I think it tastes very like a Macintosh apple.
What a pretty color, we all agree. If you need a pink drink, this could be it. The raspberry smell dominates over the apple, and though the taste is on the sweet side it is, interestingly, not as sweet as the previous variety. If you happened to have some on hand, it would go well with spicy barbeque, or you could use it as a liquid when making fruit soup.
Here the aroma is a fairly even blend of apple and ginger, but the ginger is barely discernable in the taste. Our son-in-law, an expert amateur mixologist, wonders if one could use it to make a Dark and Stormy instead of ginger beer, but then we all agree it is not gingery enough. Like the others, this is a light, refreshing quaff.
Reasons to visit: you are ready for something different; you really love apples; the Traditional; you have children with you so don’t care to be involved in a more serious tasting experience, plus there is a back yard where they can run around while you sit at the picnic tables and do your tasting; in season, the chance to pick up (or pick!) some apples and cider doughnuts (though I think Harbes’ doughnuts are better).