As Ned Stark told us so many times, “winter is coming.” Well, yeah. Winter is here. And I’m not very happy about it. I never am. As sure as Sean Bean will die in any film in which he appears, I will loathe the oncoming of winter. And so, as I write, I am sitting in my (really cold) living room, looking out at my (really cold) neighborhood, doing my very best to transport myself back to the warm, wonderful days of summer. Days that are long, warm, and filled with barbecues, friends, and adventures. “My sweet, summer child,” you may say, “why not embrace the spices and flavors that are so wonderful in this cold season?”
Because I prefer summer. And I’m no basic bitch who drinks pumpkin spiced everything. Instead, I’m drinking pear cider, remembering the warmer days. Oh yeah, and because I had a hard time finding pumpkin spiced cider at the liquor store…(send me recommendations if you’ve got them!).
Pearsnickety: The Basics
Cidery: Colorado Cider Company (Denver, CO)
Pearsnickety: The Details
First of all, a little vocabulary lesson. The Pearsnickety is a Perry, or pear cider, meaning that it is made using fermented pear juice, rather than the apple juice used in cider. In many places, the term is interchangeable with the phrase “pear cider,” though technically, cider is made from apples, so if you wanted to get super persnickety about words (see what I did there?), “pear cider” would refer to cider (made from apples) with flavors of pear added. Of course, as with most controversy (and this is clearly a controversial disagreement), there are advocates on either side, with some saying that since cider’s commercial production has increased, the terms should mean the same thing, while others say that to use the phrases interchangeably is an insult to the craft of pear fermentation.
In either case, I was really stoked to crack into this cider. My cold afternoon was just that: too cold. Time for some summery flavors and a little booze to warm the belly. However, when I popped open the bottle, I was initially taken aback by just how boozy Pearsnickety smelled. Luckily, as I poured the pale, champagne-colored drink into a glass, the freshness and lightness of fresh pears swirled up into my nose. Paradoxically, I actually found that the Pearsnickety smelled quite a bit like apples as well, especially as it warmed up and the aromas opened up a bit more.
My first few sips of Pearsnickety were also filled with that light, fresh pear flavors, but again, as it warmed up a bit, it began to taste more and more like a dry apple cider. I was shocked by how dry it was – I’ve had a number of pear ciders before, and they’ve definitely erred on the sweeter side. But not this one. It was pleasant, especially because I tend to enjoy my drinks on the dryer side. Also in the beginning, there were lots of notes that reminded me of white wine, with long, lingering finishes that had strong notes of lemon. Indeed, a citrus-y bitterness sat squarely on my soft palate for most of the duration of my drink, even as it took on more apple cider characteristics.
I found that Pearsnickety was easy to drink, and found myself working through it rather more quickly than I expected I would. Part of this, I think, is because its carbonation faded pretty quickly, with the first pour being extremely fizzy with a more significant head that most ciders of any kind will exhibit. But as I drank, that fizziness faded pretty rapidly. This lower carbonation made the Perry go down smoother, but I think it also squished a lot of the flavors together, which might be why it was reminiscent of apple cider, rather than of the fresh pears it came from.
Okay, off the bat, it is worth saying that I really liked drinking the Pearsnickety. It was light, not too sweet, and a solid drink to sip on during a weekday afternoon. That said, I was sort of confused by it as well. I was really excited for fresh pears and that feeling of summer, and while the first few minutes with this brew gave me just that, the fact that it slid back into flavors of apples and citrus was a little disappointing for me. Not because those flavors were bad – in fact, this would be really excellent dry or off-dry apple cider – but because the big, juicy-looking pear on the label had set me up with different expectations. For what it was, it was excellent, but for what I wanted, it was just not there.
Maybe I should be embracing the cold and the pumpkin spice, because while I’m now a little bit buzzed, I’m not feeling the summer vibes any more than I was before I started. That said, maybe that shouldn’t be why you try Colorado Cider Company’s Pearsnickety. Instead, give it a try because it is truly lovely. But you might do better calling it Pear Cider, rather than Perry, because cider is more like what you’re gonna get.