My birthday cider
A Review of Ace Hard Pumpkin Cider by California Cider Co.
Posted on 12/17/2011 by Doc Sally
Some background before this review: my birthday is on November 23rd. This means that my birthday always seems to fall within a few days of Thanksgiving. So, as could be expected, on more than one occasion I have had a candle ceremoniously placed into a slice of pumpkin pie and presented to me as a wedge-shaped birthday cake. I'm actually ok with this--I'm not sure if it is some Pavlovian conditioning when upon tasting pumpkin I think ''Oooo, it must be mah barthday!'' or if it is a genuine affinity for pumpkin. Regardless, I love the flavor of pumpkin, so readers can consider the merit of my review here in light of this bias. This is the first time I have tried a pumpkin cider. Considering that the California Cider company has routinely knocked my socks off with their offerings AND this is a pumpkin cider...well, I was really hoping this cider was going to be a win.

The pour was very exciting to see--a deep amber with a slight head that disappeared after a minute or so and crystal clear. The appearance was strikingly like a rich lager. The scent was surprisingly faint; I had been expecting more aroma considering the rich color, but the faint apple scent did not give much of a hint as to the flavors to come.

I deliberately avoided reading the ingredients to try and see how well I could dissect the flavor. The front end carried the expected crisp apple flavor I've experienced with previous Ace offerings, with the pumpkin adding a richness to the middle and backend. I was surprised to see the predominant flavor note was apple, but the pumpkin flavor played well with this and didn't overwhelm. I was also happy to find the mouthfeel remained light and refreshing with just the right touch of carbonation. But the entertaining part of the tasting for me was playing the ''what's this spice?'' game. My first impression was that the cider was mulled with several spices--for me, the predominant notes were pepper and ginger, but it wasn't quite the full picture. Sip after sip I was thinking '', that nutmeg?'' The best way I could describe this was like a mulled hard cider was combined with ginger ale and infused with pumpkin. The mystery was solved when I caved and read the ingredients--allspice! What a clever, fun choice for the Ace team. The chameleon-like quality of allspice worked so well in this cider, and made this the most dynamic cider I've enjoyed to date.

All in all, I loved this cider. It was refreshing, complex, and not overpowering with the alcohol profile. Often in my cider reviews I'll muse on food pairings. But this yourself a favor and enjoy it all by its lonesome. It stands by itself very well, and some of the subtle flavors playing off each other may be missed if paired with a strongly flavored dish. Next year on my birthday I may have to figure out how to stick a birthday candle on this. Does anyone know if cider is flammable...?

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Ace Hard Pumpkin Cider by California Cider Co.
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