Review: King Oliver’s Hard Cider by GrassLands Brewery

If you've been reading Pensacola Beer (and you should be), you're familiar with GrassLands Brewing Company out of Tallahassee, Florida. Slated for a mid to late 2014 launch, we've been lucky enough to have the opportunity to review several of their upcoming releases, including their Le Roi Rouge Imperial Red and Black Rose Immortal Imperial Stout.

Owner Gabe Grass has changed things up this time and given us King Oliver’s Hard Cider. Here's how he describes it:

King Oliver is a traditional German apfelwein (apple-wine) – brewed with 100% apple juices, organic brown sugar and champagne yeast – as well as pressed apples. King Oliver’s Hard Cider was brewed on Jan 7th and bottled on February 2nd. This sucker checks in at 8.8% ABV, so watch out! And full-disclosure, Oliver, the dominant and protective Pekingese, is most definitely the King of GrassLands’ household…he sends his regards and requests your serfdom.

Gabe's shooting for a "higher gravity, dry, and champagne-like cider that is somewhat tart, but not over the top with plenty of apple aroma".

My girlfriend, a big cider fan, will be joining me for the review, and we'll be using the Beer Advocate Ratings System. Remember, we are professionals. Do not try this at home.

King Oliver’s Hard Cider by GrassLands Brewery

Appearance: Pours nice and smooth with just a bit of foam. Nice golden color (apples, duh), not clear, but not cloudy. Heavy carbonation. Can't imagine a cider looking any more inviting.

Smell: Sweet and fruity. Subtle, and vanished quickly.

Taste: Like a dry, lightly sweetened champagne. Alcohol content perfect. Noticeable but not overwhelming. Medium finish.

Mouth Feel: Carbonated, light, flavor hits the back of the tongue. Feels alive in your mouth. 4.5

Overall: Gabe was going for a "champagne-like cider", and we'd say he succeeded. If you're a fan of wine with dinner, one could easily replace your glass of wine with King Oliver’s Hard Cider and be very happy.

Final Score: 4.0

Comments: My girlfriend is a fan of dry ciders and wines, while I generally am not, but there was just enough sweetness to win me over. Indeed, walking a fine line that kept us both happy is quite impressive. If anything, we'd kick the smell up a notch.

Oliver should be quite proud of his cider. Give that pup a treat.