If you’ve ever read literally any of my articles here, you know that I’m not a huge fan of the super sweet ciders. Sure, once in a while, a nice sweet drink is refreshing, but when it comes to ciders, I’m a bigger fan of keeping things on the dryer end. If you’ve ever read my reviews about STEM’s ciders, you’ll also know I’m a bona fide fangirl of the place. I try to keep my chill, but I never really can. So, when I was browsing for a cider to drink on these hot, hot summer evenings, I about died when I saw the STEM Real Dry cider – in a can! and just had to have it. I mean, when you find something that checks all the boxes – tasty, dry, and portable – is there really any way you can say no?
Real Dry: The Basics
Cidery: STEM Ciders (Denver, CO)
Style: Dry (yes, really)
Real Dry: The Details
Popping open a can of this stuff, you get the quickest flash of fresh apples on your nose. However, if you go in for a second whiff, you’re more likely to smell something akin to champagne than apple cider. It’s that crisp, sparkly, very slightly boozy smell you get after popping a bottle of your favorite bubbly, though the apples are still there in the undertones. In the glass, this cider is a pale straw color, with lots of carbonation – again, reminiscent of champagne. With nearly nothing to hold on to in this cider – it’s literally just apples and yeast – there is next to no foam, no lacing on the glass. Everything with this cider’s look and smell is clean and simple.
When I took my first sip, the word out of my mouth was also clean and simple, just, “Yes.” It’s exactly what the can promises: dry, dry, dry. It tastes like there is nearly no residual sugars in this cider, but it doesn’t dry your mouth out the way some super dry drinks – particularly wines – can, which I appreciated immensely. It’s bubbly, fresh, and the finish is clean and really, really short. This cider was aged in stainless steel barrels, which acts to preserve the natural flavors in the juice without imparting any flavors of its own (unlike the oak barrels that STEM is known for using in other cider varieties, which do quite the opposite). This lets you taste a bit of the apple from whence this cider came, particularly at the front of the sip, before your tongue is overtaken by the carbonation towards that short, clean, unlingering finish.
This cider isn’t trying to be anything it isn’t. What you see in the name is what you’re getting – Real Dry Apple Cider, real straightforward. And, you know, that was really refreshing. A lot of STEM’s ciders are oak barrel aged, which makes them really full, rich, and complex with their flavors, which is something I really love about what they’re doing. But this cider is stripped down, simple, and unassuming. It’s light, crisp, and perfect to sip the hot afternoons away with. And that, too, is terribly refreshing. There isn’t much more to say about this cider – it’s really solid, really tasty, and ought to be a standard in your refrigerator if you are like me and rebel against the candy-sweet ciders that often dominate the liquor store shelves.