Apple-picking season may be over, but cider season certainly isn’t. Sprecher Brewery just released two new drinks for the fall: Cider de Pomme Cranberry Hard Cider and Perry Sparkling Pear Wine. I stopped by the brewery to learn more about the drinks, from how they’re prepared, to the best cheese to pair them with.
If I see cider on the menu, chances are it’s going to end up in a glass at my table. I’ll admit, however, if you were to ask me what I know about my favorite drink, well, I’d probably only be able to say that I know I like it. But luckily, I’ve got a much better answer to that question now, thanks to Sprecher Brewery’s president, Jeff Hamilton.
So what’s the first thing you need to know?
Ciders are carbonated drinks.
“Technically, they’re wine,” Hamilton explains. “Through the government, they’re considered wine. So, to make them, you need to be a winery. Most wineries don’t have the equipment to make carbonated beverages, especially in small bottles. So, years ago, legislators got together and decided to make a special part of the law that said things made of apples and under seven-percent alcohol would be taxed like beer, to allow breweries to make them.”
So, what about that pear cider you’ve got in your fridge? Is it the same thing as a perry? Check out Hamilton’s answer in the video below.
Cranberry cider, just like the pear cider, is technically apple cider with cranberry flavoring… and let me tell you, it was delicious! If you pick up a bottle, I highly recommend pairing it with the Wisconsin cheese Hamilton selected: Maple Leaf Cheese‘s Cranberry White Cheddar Cheese.
While the cranberry cider paired perfectly with a cranberry cheese, Hamilton was quick to note that doesn’t mean every fruity beer or cider will match cheeses that contain the same fruit.
“The other day, we sampled this Blueberry Lambic,” he shares. “I was sure that would go with this berry goat cheese that I love. Got in here with it, and it totally trampled on the beer.”
Hamilton says he tried another couple of cheeses with the Blueberry Lambic, and ultimately settled on a brie.
“A lot of times, what happens is that we find one that works with one thing, and it’ll end up working with something really different.”
He tells me that one time, the team tried a total of SIX cheeses before finding the right taste for one of Sprecher’s beers.
As someone who loves cheese and cider, listening to Hamilton explain the pairings and history of the drinks was incredibly eye-opening and useful. I love hosting get-togethers at my apartment, and I am so proud of my little brie and prosciutto boards. But thanks to my brewery visit, I know I can make my family and friends’ experiences in my kitchen even better.
Cheers to that!