While Colorado holds the wonderful title of craft beer leaders, we are also home to many local wineries, cideries and coffee houses. The Ultra5280 Lifestyle section has had the privilege to try almost all of our state's staples and we will continue to do so long as there are more to try! Tuesday night we took it upon ourselves to branch outside of our white IPA and saison obsessions and taste some local apple inspired hard cider. We ventured into RiNo for Stem Cider's weekly Tuesday's Cider & Sides featuring four ciders paired with four pies from Long I Pie downtown.
Stem Cider opened January 2014 with just three ciders on tap and now have over 20 ciders that they rotate weekly based on the season. In addition to great hard cider, they host fun events like Trivia nights, bluegrass bands and special tasting events. Stem Cider's Tuesday night pairings are different each week, matching hard ciders with sides such as cheeses, pizza, macaroni, pie, etc. from different local eateries. For $20 patrons get to try the four selected ciders with four samples of whatever the side of the night is at their own pace from 6-9pm.
Here's the lineup for last Tuesday's Cider & Long I Pie and our thoughts:
"Redhead's Revenge" (Sweet potato ginger pie) & L'Acier Cider
The pie was a typical sweet potato flavor and consistency tasting like mashed sweet potatoes with ginger and brown sugar mixed in and surrounded by a thick flaky crust. The cider was crisp, acidic and not very apple flavored, reminding us more of a white wine.
"Grandma's Pie" (Spiced apple cranberry) & Crabby Neighbor Cider
The pie was a blend of soft cinnamon apples and cranberries minus all the gooey, sugary pie filling in most apple pies, fully surrounded by a thick flaky crust. Paired well with the tart, fresh taste of the cider made from Granny Smith and crab apples and aged to soften the sour flavors up a bit.
"Honey Flower" (Salted lavender honey) & Remedy Cider
This pie was our unexpected favorite! Who knew a lavender honey pie was so divine?! This was our first experience with such a pie and we are fans for life. While this isn't a typical holiday pie because of the summer ingredients, it is just as decadent and delicious as all the pumpkin cheesecakes and pecan pies. It smelled and tasted like a lavender creme brûlée, but with more texture. The Remedy cider tastes very much like a white IPA. Very heavy on the hops for those who don't drink much beer as it is dry hopped with cascade and citra hops. We felt it overwhelmed and clashed with the delicate flavors of the Honey Flower pie. But we are excited to introduce this cider to our wheat impaired beer nostalgic buddies!
"Drunken Nut" (bourbon chocolate pecan) & Branch & Bramble Cider
I love a good pecan pie for the holidays and I especially love a pie with whiskey or bourbon in it, I've been making them that way since before I was 21. So kudos there! This Drunken Nut lived up to my expectations with a thick inside that wasn't just that sugary corn syrup filling, but flavor and pecan dense. The nuts had a nice toasty crunchy texture and a rich but slightly bitter chocolate to round out the overall taste that was somewhere between sweet and savory. The Brand & Bramble cider it was paired with was almost sweeter in comparison and didn't really match the flavors in the pie. Instead, it was fresh, floral and fruity, and would have been great with the Grandma's Pie. Luckily, no one is orchestrating the tastings so you are free to taste and pair as you please.
We were surprised to learn that the Ciders and Sides was a weekly occurrence and could not be more excited to see what our friends at Stem roll out for the next pairing. On top of their weekly events, Stem is also host to a plethora of board games and day time activities... Your first Bumble date, girls night out, and friends in town activities just got easier to plan! See you next Tuesday!