Number 108: Ace Pineapple

I’ve always been able to separate out my opinion of something from the general hype surrounding it. When Netflix’s Stranger Things first arrived to the platform, social media was thoroughly abuzz with posts and articles about it, exalting its greatness and repeating the opinion that I “totally needed to watch it.” I waited a month or so, but when I eventually got around to watching it, I found it to be pretty good. Not revolutionary to the genre, nor by any means my favorite Netflix original series. It was just pretty good.

Ace Pineapple

Ace Cider’s Pineapple cider had been sitting in my queue for months, if not over a year. Of the ciders in my untested collection, it received the largest number of comments from houseguests. It seemed that everyone had an opinion on this cider. It was either the best pineapple cider they had ever had, or it was far too sweet and I was going to hate it. After trying it, I respectfully disagree with both opinions.

The Ace Pineapple does a pretty fantastic job of blending the apple and pineapple flavors, such that neither is battling too contentiously for the forefront of the flavor. Both are equally present, and the cider certainly benefits from this. Though the cider was sweet, I did not find it overpoweringly so. That is always a risk with such a saccharine fruit, but Ace does a nice job of keeping this in check. The aroma is full and fruity, and the finish is smooth and clean. Overall, as far as pineapple ciders go, I would say that the Ace Pineapple is not revolutionary, but pretty darn good.

The Ciderman’s Rating: 8/10

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Number 100: Ace SpAce

“At a cantina on a star in a planetary system far far away, the surviving beautiful sister, takes a hit on a hookah pipe and listens for incider information.” –Excerpt from the neck label of the Ace Space.Ace Space

Every May, in honor of May the Fourth, I expand on thosepithy “may the Fourth be with you” posts and commit an entire month to Star Wars-themed posts of pictures, questions, and witty thematic banter. A review of this, my 100th cider, seemed tangentially on theme until I read that caption from the bottleneck. It was only upon visiting the cider’s web page that I found out the owner of Ace Cider’s wife was an actor in the cantina scene in A New Hope.

The Ace SpAce is the first of its kind, a bold combination of flavors that are so diametrically opposite, they even have an aphorism based on their difference. Even the look of the cider is unique: a milky orange, reminiscent of Bespin at sundown. Perhaps the strongest quality of this cider is just how different and alien it tastes. The pulpy affect of orange juice is something not found in apple-based beverages. There is no suspension of disbelief in imagining drinking this at a cantina on Tatooine, a bar on Coruscant, or anywhere in the galaxy after a hard-fought victory against the empire.

The cider’s opening crawl features a hint of apple, but the orange flavor takes over shortly after and dominates the palate with its citrus notes. The flavor lingers on like a ghost, inviting you to experience more and complete the cider. Unfortunately, I do think that this cider could use more apple to bring balance to the overall presentation. But, for a special release, I feel that the SpAce certainly delivers.

The Ciderman’s Rating: 8/10

Number 89: Ace Berry

I have a very good friend who is a botanist. Whenever we travel for an extended period of time, we will challenge one another mentally with games involving naming a certain number of items within a category. It is in this way that I learned that a strawberry is not a berry: the category was berry, I named strawberry, and he just shook his head and muttered “not a berry.” And who was I to argue with a botanist?

I’ll be honest: part of me was hoping thatace-berry this one would be blue, or at the very least purplish. That was probably just the ambiguous berry on the label trying to deceive me. The Ace Berry delivered quite the shock, as it was much more tart than the ciders I’ve been drinking lately. At first, it was almost too tart, but as I became more accustomed to it, I came to realize that it was accompanied by a softening sweetness that really rounded out the flavor.

One of the flavor categories in my Cider Journal is “berry” and I can tell you with confidence that it received full marks here. Though I couldn’t quite identify which berries (be they traditional berries or aggregate accessory berries like the strawberry) made up the mysterious berry flavor, it was rather tasty. Ace has yet to let me down.

The Ciderman’s Rating: 7/10

Number 54: Ace Blackjack

An expression I have never understood is “the devil is in the details.” Generally, the devil is regarded as a bad thing, but any sort of work can receive praise for its exquisite level of detail. The expression comes from an earlier expression “God is in the details,” but they probably changed that so that it a) sounded edgier and b) conformed to the alliterative standards that compel a phrase to roll off the tongue better.Ace Blackjack

Something that has never struck me as extremely important in the cider world is the description on the label. Obviously it’s not unimportant, especially if the cider has specific instructions, or a particularly clever way of wording things. On the whole, it’s the visual appearance and brand identity that sell the cider, and the details of the description are just a light dusting atop the marketing display.

As far as visuals go, the ACE Blackjack killed it: matte-black 750ml bottle with white and gold lettering. The description, however, did very little for me. They mention it’s the 21st anniversary bottle, they use Gravenstein apples (unfamiliar), and that “only a very limited number of bottles have been made” (which, without any sort of idea of the production scale, means nothing). The detail that stood out to me, especially after the first few sips, was the mention of oak-aging the cider in chardonnay barrels. Ordinarily, this is the sort of detail I would dismiss as ephemera, but it ended up proving itself to be an integral part of the flavor.

The ACE Blackjack is one of the more complex ciders I’ve encountered. The chardonnay aging process contributed a dry, very wine-like flavor, which then makes a complete U-turn into a smooth cider finish. This was clearly a carefully crafted cider, making it a fine testament to 21 years in the cider industry. At 9% ABV, the Blackjack holds its own amongst wines and ciders alike.

The Ciderman’s Rating: 9/10

Number 49: Ace Honey

In writing this blog, I’ve come across a familiar but interesting quandary: the age-old balancing act between subjectivity and objectivity. Obviously, as a reviewer, I’m producing opinionated pieces and I do my best to support those opinions with objective facts. I also do my best to paint my opinions with figurative language so that you as the reader are entertained, and you don’t find yourself wasting your time by reading “this cider was good. I think I’d order it again” over and over.Ace Honey

The quandary in question came about last night when I was ordering. I asked the bartender her opinion on the two ciders on their drink list that I hadn’t yet tried. Another bartender joined in the discussion, and both bartenders preferred Ciderboys’ Strawberry Magic to the ACE Honey. I explained that since my local store carries the Strawberry Magic and not the ACE Honey, I was going to order the latter, but I asked why both preferred the former. It turns out they found the ACE Honey uninteresting, too sweet, and too alike in taste to the other ACE cider they carried (the Joker).

I found the ACE Honey to be very interesting, just sweet enough, and very different from the award-winning Joker.

Does this make the bartenders wrong? No. Luckily, we live in a world where, unless you’re trying very hard at it, your opinion is not wrong. It just might differ from the opinion of another. The bartenders are perfectly entitled to go home and write in their cider blogs about how much better the Strawberry Magic is and why no one should order ACE Honey. My opinion was that the cider was good, and that’s going to shape how I write about it. And, since you’re reading my blog, I should probably get on with my opinion instead of discussing semantics.

The Californian ACE Honey is a seasonal cider, with a warm, fruity flavor reminiscent of mead. Though the aroma was not as appetizing as I would have hoped, the cider had a gorgeous dark color and just the right level of carbonation. The Honey was sweet, but not overly so: just sweet enough to enjoy and not have to think about. And since I’ve been drinking more craft ciders lately, it was refreshing to switch it up with a cider that was intended to be served chilled. I do think that if I were to order more than one, the sweetness might become overwhelming, but it was just the right amount for a single serving.

Overall, this cider was good. I think I’d order it again.

The Ciderman’s Rating: 8/10