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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

J. K. Scrumpy’s Hard Cider

J. K. Scrumpy’sCider is one of my favorite things. To me, cider is to autumn as maple syrup is to spring – a seasonal treat best enjoyed from local sources. The transparent, pasteurized stuff in the clear glass jugs doesn’t hold a candle to the rich, brown nectar made at area orchards and packaged in plastic jugs.

And while the idea of hard cider has always appealed to me, I’ve never found any of those sold in six packs from beer coolers to be particularly compelling (though I have enjoyed the occasional Woodpecker). Recently, however, I was given a 22-ounce bottle of an artisanal cider that will have me requesting it at my local suds shop. (Yoo-hoo, Zionsville Payless....)

J. K. Scrumpy’s Orchard Gate Gold is a wonderfully tasty cider, crisp, clean and deliciously refreshing. It retains the flavor of slightly tart apples, which is enhanced by its creamy fizziness. As long as I’m making comparisons, this stuff is to mass-produced hard ciders as a good Belgian ale is to Coors Light. Of course, at $6.99 one bottle of J. K. Scrumpy’s will set you back about as much as a six-pack of regular hard cider will, too. If you’re motivated more by quality than fluid ounces per dollar, it’s well worth it.

J. K. Scrumpy’s is made by Jim Koan of Almar Orchards, an organic orchard and vegetable farm in Flushing, Michigan that has been in his family for four generations. The name is derived in part from the name for an English farmhouse cider, scrumpy. Koan’s cider differs from the English variety (English scrumpy is usually still, not sparkling), but it is made from an authentic recipe made by his family since the 1850s. Koan credits cider sales for saving the family farm during the Depression, and says that people came from far and wide during Prohibition to take home some of their “special farm cider.”

J. K. Scrumpy’s recently became available locally at Kahn’s, and no doubt will be turning up soon at some other stores soon.
J. Silverheels Gray, 10:59 AM


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