Crispin Cider at The Four Firkins


On Friday night I headed down to The Four Firkins for a tasting of Crispin cider. There seems to be a lot of hype surrounding Crispin right now, at the very least on the Internet. With Joe Heron the CEO in the house pouring and talking about his cider, it seemed like a good time to see what all the talk was about.

As it  turns out, Joe being there was quite advantageous, since I learned all kinds of interesting things about cider and cider manufacture. Some of them being:

You don’t actually need a special license to produce ciderthe bodies regulating liquor sales don’t require one and won’t issue one. Since alcohol distributors were wary of selling unlicensed booze, Crispin obtained a license but were only able to do so by claiming to produce apple wine. You will notice that Crispin cider has a nutrition information label, while beer and wine never do: this is because Crispin cider is regulated by the FDA, rather than the liquor authorities. So that’s why I don’t know how many calories are in my beer! It is also illegal to carbonate cider to the level of beer–it has to be slightly less.

Crispin over RaspberryIt’s really hard to find cider apples in the US. Sweet apples are not good for cider. As Joe said, the more edible an apple is, the worse it is for making cider. He fantasizes about making a barrel of Cider from crabapples. Crispin uses a blend of apples including Granny Smith, Gala and some others and finish their cider with concentrate. Apparently some brewers make their cider exclusively from concentrate, and this is to be poo-pooed.

There were four ciders available to try. I started with the regular, which was slightly dry but pretty fruity, like a tangy apple juice. Next up was the brut, which as you might expect was drier. This was my favorite. The third was a limited edition that won’t be available in stores for a couple of weeks: the Honeycrisp. Don’t let the name fool you, it’s not actually made with honeycrisp apples–according to Joe you could hardly find a worse apple to make cider with: too sweet and hardly any acid. Instead, the Honeycrisp is regular made with honey. The honey was quite strong; it was the dominant flavor. Finally, after I had had enough free samples to ensure my bike ride back home would be an interesting challenge, Joe offered me a sample of the final variety of Crispin: Light. I liked the light because it was dry like the brut and without a very strong apple flavor.

As is always the case when I’m offered free alcohol, I bought some to take home. I would have liked to buy the brut but they were sold out; instead I bought a four-pack of the Light. Joe recommended to several people to drink the light over ice with a wedge of lemon. After visiting the farmers’ market the next day, I didn’t have any lemon, but I had a bunch of raspberries, so I made a cocktail that I think Joe would approve of.


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7 comments on “Crispin Cider at The Four Firkins”

  1. Linda 3 August, 2009 at 9:30 am

    Tom, I like this posting. Did you every try cider while in Spain? We attempted to drink it right out of the barrel without spilling any. Apparently it’s at art to be developed. I wasn’t a big fan of the cider there. Maybe I’d like this one you bought.

  2. Tom 3 August, 2009 at 9:33 am

    I am sorry to say that I never did try sidra (not to mention vermut del grifo) even though it was fairly ubiquitous in the bars around my house. It would have been a nice point of reference, and surely would have upped my cider cred with Joe. There are a lot of interesting cider traditions in Spain: the one you mention and also pouring it out of the bottle from a great distance to the glass. Early sobriety tests?

  3. julia 4 August, 2009 at 2:45 pm

    My brother’s made his own hard cider in a not-very-complicated (but I don’t remember it) process involving cider from the Wedge in the fall. I don’t know how it compares to other cider, but it’s certainly really tasty.

  4. Tom 4 August, 2009 at 7:00 pm

    Do you need brewing equipment? Because I need an excuse to buy some…

  5. Joe Heron 16 October, 2009 at 2:03 pm

    Hey guys – wanted to invite you and everyone else to join us at Brits for our annual St Crispin’s Day celebration. Saturday 24 October from 7 pm at Brits Pub. We will have a great evening, Trailer Trash will be playing, there will be prizes for best dressed man, woman, couple (if they wear blue & orange), more prizes for teh best rendition of the St Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V (our own Blakespeare will be there to help anyone who is shy). Crispin on draft. Entrance is a suggested $10 donation to Second Harvest Heartland. We will also be collecting warm winter shoes for those in need (St Crispin is the patron saint of cobblers after all).

    Cider baby.

  6. Joe Heron 16 October, 2009 at 3:04 pm

    By the way – forgot to post this a while back. The Raspberry addition is sublime. Beach in a bottle. For sure. Then I cheated and did raspberries with Brut. oi vey , beyond delicious.

  7. Tom 16 October, 2009 at 3:09 pm

    Lucky you for having a supply of brut on hand!

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