Crispin. (What is a company that makes cider? Not a brewery. Not a winery. A cidery?) I was intrigued because of the descriptions. One was made with honey, another with maple syrup and fermented with Belgian abbey ale, and another made with rice sugar and fermented with Sake yeast.
I have to admit something, to my eternal shame. I used to drink ciders. And wine coolers. My only saving grace is that I never drank Zima. What can I tell you? I was in my early twenties and wanted to get drunk without having to drink something that I didn't enjoy. I wasn't willing to chug beer or anything else that practically made me gag, as doing so struck me as the sort of a thing that an alcoholic would do. Ciders and wine coolers? Those were perfectly drinkable.
Once I became a craft beer enthusiast, ciders and wine coolers were a thing of the past, although I do admit to trying a pear cider that I saw at Trader Joe's. It was made by a small company, and I wondered if maybe there was something to it just as there was something to craft beers versus the standard macro lagers. Unfortunately, there didn't seem to be, and I never tried another cider...until the aforementioned Crispin ciders.
Maybe I went about it all wrong. I was thinking that maybe a good cider, just like a good beer or wine, would be complex and have all kinds of interesting things going on at once. I'm not much of a wine expert, so I'll only elaborate on beer. When you have a good beer, there's this balance between the sweetness of the malt and the bitterness of the hops. Some will lean more toward one way or the other. Then, of course, you have darker beers where the roasted malts give off various coffee, chocolate, biscuit, etc. flavors which adds even more complexity. Of course, there are also the Belgian ales, where the yeast creates all kinds of interesting aromas and tastes, which tend to change the more it warms up.
I was hoping for something kinda like that, but all I could think of when I tried them is that they all pretty much tasted like apple juice. I don't mean that in a bad way. They were good, and not as sweet as straight-juice would be, but I didn't really distinguish any significant difference with the flavors. It's not like going from a Pilsner to a Stout to an IPA. It's more like going from a Stout to a Porter to a black lager - all kinda different, but we're talking fine lines here.
I'm not saying that they were bad, but I just don't see myself getting these again. While I had no problem finishing them (which is more than I can say for some beers that I've had) I didn't feel eager for more. The website shows that they're good to cook with, just like beer and wine can be, so maybe I'll make some kind of marinade or something with my last bottle.
While Crispin might be filling a niche by creating a cider that's arguably better than what you normally find at the grocery store, I'm not seeing a big cider movement coming anytime soon.
Maybe we'll see something like that happen with mead?