Texas is on the right path to harvesting an expansive hard cider crop, with Argus Cidery launching it’s flagship dry champagne-style variety earlier this year,Leprechaun Cider out of Houston sneakily taking over multiple Austin taps recently, and now we have a new hard cider to celebrate — Austin EastCiders.
Austin Eastciders was founded by Englishman and former “struggling musician and mediocre graphic designer,” Ed Gibson, who turned his focus to hard cider in 2006 when he opened a bar in Bristol called The Apple.
“I think as well as a passion for great cider, I have a passion for great design. In the bar we stocked many amazing tasting ciders that hardly anyone bought because they looked all wrong, while the terrible mass-produced ciders that looked OK would fly off the shelves.”
Gibson decided he wanted to create his own brand of cider that “not only tasted so good, but also looked so good, that it could begin to change people’s perception of what cider is and can be here,” he explained via email.
He returned to Austin (after many visits) last month to launch Austin Eastciders. When asked why he chose Austin as the launching pad for the new product, he responded, “I didn’t choose Austin, Austin chose me! I love Austin so much it hurts. It’s probably the perfect place to do something like this, with the openness and curiosity of the people, their support for anything new, the value they place on local, independent businesses, I think that’s why I love the place so much. It’s an oasis of individuality in the nightmarishly homogenous world we live in!”
The first batch of “Gold Top” cider was produced in England, and employed 12 Texas apple varieties blended with more than 40 vintage varieties. Gibson claims the Gold Top is made from almost 100% apples, and doesn’t integrate anything that isn’t naturally found in the fruit. It’s also gluten free. Full local production will start up in 2012.
Gibson was kind enough to drop off a sample for me to try earlier this week. The flagship cider expands the canvas of local hard cider offerings with it’s rich, complex and slightly bittersweet flavor profile.
At 5.6% alcohol by volume the Gold Top has surprising depth. There are more rich sugar components present than typically found in other self-proclaimed “dry” and light ABV ciders, yet it’s definitely not sickly-sweet like Woodchuck, and has more flavor complexity than most other American options. There’s an underlying dryness that balances out the dark sugar notes and allows the tart perk of the apples used in the blend to still taste natural and not cloyingly sweet.
Gibson recommends to drink it chilled, but “never over ice, that’s sacrilege!”
You’ll be able to find the first batch at the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar, followed by all other Austin Alamo Drafthouses this week and various other Downtown and East Austin bars and stores including Haddingtons and The Longbranch. Check Facebook and Twitter for updates. Samples will also be available at the East Austin Studio Tour Preview Night Afterparty and several of the other free events during E.A.S.T as well. (Via Emma Janzen) LINK