Let me begin by saying that I never actually thought I’d be writing reviews of beers that I actually got for free, but it’s happening and it’s really pretty cool – everything I’ll be reviewing from Crispin was complementary. That said, I’m not going to tell you people that I love something if I don’t love it. I’ll always be honest with you, even when I know that I’ve got an unpopular opinion (say, for example with the Boulevard Tank 7: I don’t like it at all, but we sell a veritable ton of it at work – a lot of discerning beer drinkers love the stuff). So you can rest assured that if I tell you I love something, I do, and if I don’t love something, well, I’ll tell you that too.
Name: The Saint
Origin: Crispin Cider
Style: Cider (brewed with Belgian Trappist yeast and Maple Syrup)
IBU: completely irrelevent, as this is cider and cider is hopless
I drank this: poured from the bottle, provided to me by Derek Bean of Crispin Ciders (thank you!)
This is, flat-out, the most interesting cider I’ve ever had. Ever. My standard cider experience is either Woodchuck Amber (the Amber is their usual – you’ve had it, I’m sure), or Strongbow (which if you haven’t had, you should). Either way, they’re both totally normal fizzy hard apple ciders. They’re good (I prefer Strongbow), but they’re not really remarkable. They’re what you have when you want something apple-y rather than something beer-y. (Or wine-y. Or whiny.)
Crispin’s The Saint is absolutely NOT like either of those ciders. It’s honestly not like anything I’ve ever tried before.
The Saint is apple cider that has maple syrup added and has been fermented with Belgian Trappist Yeast (think Chimay Red Label – that’s the Trappist that most people have tried, if they’ve in fact ever tried one at all). Going in, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was interested.
So, to start out, it’s yeast. The first two sips were absolutely 100% total yeast. To be honest, it wasn’t pleasant. It was, well, yeasty. I stuck with it beyond two sips because brewers’ yeast is pretty much 100% vitamin B12, and I figured a few more sips could be nothing but good for me. I wasn’t, however, anticipating that I would enjoy said sips.
But something happened. After my mouth adjusted to the yeast, the apple flavor came pouring out, and the cider magically became one of the best I’ve ever had. It’s weirdly, wildly, intriguingly different from every cider I’ve ever had, but it’s excellent. The apple flavor is along the lines of a green sort of baking apple, not quite Granny Smith, but something of that ilk. I never really noticed the maple, but it may have helped smoothe out the taste. Like I said before, the yeast flavor is prevalent, but it isn’t so strong after a few sips, and the strain they use in fermenting the cider creates amazing champagne-style bubbles.
So. This stuff is good. It’s different and interesting and fun and something I can wholeheartedly endorse. And, being cider, it’s gluten-free, which means those of you on that sort of diet can enjoy it (instead of trying to find some sort of gluten-free beer, because, from what I can tell, those kind of tend to suck). If you can find it, grab it and try it. If you can’t but find yourself curious anyway, bug your local liquor store to order some for you. It’s definitely worth it.